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From Brief to Delivery: How An Agency Handles Projects

From Brief to ...

Our UK team got the amazing opportunity to speak with Arnold Ma, CEO of Qumin, about the journey of a project at an agency, from receiving the brief through to delivery. It was posted over at Campaign magazine and they were kind enough to let us repost it.

Read on for some great insight on how each role interacts and why good planning is crucial to a project’s success.

Can you tell me about a typical project brief at your agency?

As a Chinese creative digital agency in the UK, the briefs we get are normally very different from the average UK project brief. We receive numerous briefs for Chinese social media work on platforms such as Weibo and WeChat. It’s an interesting amalgamation of web and social media work.

What are the stages involved in a project and what key roles are involved?

The brief: Agency projects typically start with a brief, which is normally obtained by the account manager. This includes key information from the client such as business objectives, insights, a timeline, technical specifications, KPIs and brand guidelines. The account manager needs a deep understanding of the client’s business objectives and will manage the communication and approval process throughout the project.

Content: The account manager obtains any available visual and text-based content from the client or looks to get it produced within the agency. For social media projects, the social media manager will also have a leading day-to-day role on the account. Social media managers need a strong understanding of social media strategy and tactics and an excellent knowledge of current digital trends.

The nature of our work means that our social media manager must possess a thorough understanding of the opportunities and limits of WeChat/Weibo. As the most popular Chinese social media platforms, these platforms are vital in reaching Chinese online consumers, yet the vast majority of social media managers in the UK are not familiar with either.

Copy: Usually following a brainstorm with the whole creative team, the first article draft will be produced by the copywriter who needs to have excellent attention to detail, a creative flair and solid proofreading skills.

Creative: The overarching creative is produced by the creative director or art director and designers. The creative director is responsible for the overall creative direction of the visual and copy, and provides creative consistency throughout the project. The designer is responsible for creating the visuals, including any photography, typography and illustrations. The creative director will also need to be familiar with the tastes of the Chinese consumers, which often differ to those of a Western audience. If it’s an online project, the creative is then passed on to the technical and production teams.

Production: Led by the web project manager and developer, this involves pulling all the content and visuals together and building the layout from the previous stage. The web project manager needs strong technical expertise and an ability to work with a CMS. It is vital for the developer to have strong front end experience, a strong understanding of the CMS and the various formats that can be implemented. For most big social media projects like ours, HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript experience are vital.

User testing and launch: Led by the web project manager and supported by the account management team, the solution is tested for quality and speed and final updates are made to the layout before the creative is officially launched.

Reporting: The data analyst will establish a measurement plan to ensure the project is measurable and that audience / content segmentation is in place if required. Once the project is live they will extract data from the CRM relating to acquisition, engagement and audience profiles. They will also measure open rates and conversions.

Which job roles are the most critical to ensuring the project is a success?

The key role for any project is the account manager who brings the project together with strong planning and day-to-day liaison with the team and client. But from a production point of view, you need a strong creative and technical team.

For our agency in particular, it’s crucial that all roles grasp how the appetites of the Chinese audience sometimes differ to those of Western audiences. We specialise in helping Western brands appeal to Chinese audiences and this can be a complex process as brands often have little understanding of the Chinese market. All of our staff must grasp the intricacies of the Chinese market, while at the same time excelling in their own individual specialisms.


What factors are key to the success of a project?

Every project needs good planning, strong audience insights and an understanding of current trends and capabilities relating to the platform you are using. It is also vital to have the right team and skills in place. A large team with very varied skill sets are required for many of our projects and each person needs to focus and be able to deliver on their specific tasks.

Why is good planning particularly important?

Good planning is absolutely vital to the success of a project of any type or size. Our social media projects require a lot of work for every single post, so there are many people involved from start to finish. The larger the team, the more risk there is of a communication or implementation breakdown, so planning becomes even more critical.

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