A Quick Bit of Feedback - it Might be All You Need

By Dave Waddell

The first bit of indirect feedback I ever received came a few hours after I was born. My grandmother passed by a room where a few babies were sleeping. She asked them to point me out, strode onto the ward and addressed my mother in her distinctive Geordie accent with, “Eeeee - WHAT an ugly baby!”.


A few years later I got a piece of unsolicited feedback while playing in a teenage punk band. In the interests of full disclosure, I should state that the band was woefully low on talent, and even in that company I stood out for my lack of ability. The feedback came in the form of a glass bottle, hurled with considerable force and no little precision at my head. A better musician would have seen it coming, but - even though I only had 2 notes (A & E, ironically) to play - I had to look at the strings on my bass to work out where my fingers should be. Had we not played loudly - to drown out the customary audience hostility - I would have heard my band members yelling at me to get my head (which is a decent size - ask my grandmother) out of the way.


When I woke up in hospital, I was given 2 pieces of direct feedback. Firstly, the noise of the bottle hitting my skull was the most pleasing sound I had ever made during my entire tenure with the band. Secondly, my undignified collapse into the drum riser had generated the biggest cheer of my “musical career”. The band were keen for me to go out on a high, so I was fired. My promise to master a third note - I fancied a go at ‘D’- was politely declined.


We don’t always need to conduct a large-scale survey to find out what people think. A grandmother with a sense of aesthetics and a desire to share her opinions was all I needed to establish how easy on the eye I was. And a music lover with a good ear, a strong arm and unerring aim provided all the feedback my musical skills merited.


Some people fight shy of market research, thinking it is too pricey, or that a minimum sample of 1,000 nationally representative people is mandatory. That is the case in many instances, but if you just want a steer on whether an idea is worth pursuing, it could be that quick and small-scale will tell you all you need to know. And at some point, you do need to know.

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