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The Guardian Media Network

Our year so far

In business terms, how have you found the first six months of 2014?

Relentless. That's not meant as a negative. It's just the first word that sprung to mind when I think back on the first half of the year. I don't feel like we've had a moment to draw breath and reflect on what we've achieved.

The good news is that there is plenty of work out there and businesses are keen to spend. But the consistent challenge is that everyone is looking for more, for less. And they want it last week. Which means that across the board clients and agencies are finding themselves caught in an endless cycle of delivery with little or no time to stop, think and plan.

What has surprised you in the first half of the year?

For the last couple of years there seems to have been less ebb and flow in the market. Certainly for most of my time in the industry there have always been typically busier and quieter periods of the year. But, increasingly, this seasonality is disappearing to be replaced by a more constant demand for work.

This year in particular, the consistency of new business opportunities is striking. Clearly this is a great opportunity for agencies to grow, but at the same time it really highlights the need for change. Not something our industry is great at if we're honest. We love to preach it to clients, but we're woefully slow at affecting it in our own businesses. But the truth is, clients' demands and expectations are shifting and agencies need to make sure they are set up to respond if they want to survive.

Which trends make you optimistic for creative and business success for agencies?

The focus on strategy. And, more specifically customer strategy. Businesses seem happier to spend their money on strategic thinking. The challenge is, as I've already said, finding the time to build this thinking in early enough or respond quickly enough to impact what's going on. But the will is there and that's a huge opportunity for agencies to build value into their client relationships.

Agency strategy doesn't have to stop at developing a great communication.  The opportunity is to get further upstream in client planning and to help shape and evolve the broader customer experience – helping businesses to interpret data, build an understanding of their customers and develop an experience that evolves in the interests of their customers.

Read the full article published on The Guardian Media Network

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