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Industry leaders share what they are committing to spending more time on in 2024 and what they going to stop saying yes to to ensure that it’s possible
The new year brings with it a moment of self-reflection and an opportunity for change. It is a time to reset, to think about what matters and to reframe for the year ahead.
In the always on marketing ecosystem the important can all too often be ignored in favour of the seemingly urgent. The annual January reset allows for the opportunity to think about what is truly important. Be it making time to go out and be creative outside the confines of the desk, deciding to make a real impact on DEI goals, or connecting with others through mentorship, now is the time to think about how to make such goals reality.
Yet while many resolutions come in the form of learning or taking on a new challenge, it’s important to remember that time is a precious resource. In order to make true progress, being kind to ourselves and realistic will make these goals more achievable. Sometimes, there is nothing more powerful than saying no.
With this in mind for the year ahead, we asked industry leaders what they are committed to spending more time on in 2024 and in turn what might they be saying no to.
I'm spending more time interacting with…people. Simple, right? I was never a huge talker or remotely sociable before the pandemic, but I've found that post-Covid the world, especially in the creative industry, has become less… human.
So, here's the plan: I'm diving headfirst into connecting with diverse minds, seeking out those cool collaborations, and immersing myself in discussions that light up the imagination.
I’m tossing aside the idea of isolation because, really, 'no man is an island,' and that's been ringing in my head lately. I want to create an environment where ideas fly, feedback flows, and inspiration hits. It's all about fostering a space where diverse exchanges - not time behind a screen - fuel creativity, unlocking new ideas and building a formidable clique for creative innovation.
In 2024, my focus is giving back time to our senior team members - including myself! Time is a precious commodity for us all, but the pressures of an ever-changing attention economy mean that more than ever we need time to think, reflect and evolve, thereby fully unleashing our creative and strategic power.
This involves stepping back from the day-to-day intricacies on a regular basis, but the passion for what we do can often make it hard to pull ourselves out of the weeds.
However, by continuing to embrace AI tools it gives account directors across all areas of the agency from studio to insights, media and account management, the ability to step back and have meaningful time to analyse industry shifts, explore external influences and further embrace cutting-edge trends and technology.
So, I believe it is about saying ‘yes’ more in 2024 to those tools that will give us all more time to think...and then having the discipline to keep that time clear and not get buried in the minutiae of agency life!
Like every department head, or team leader, my work vocabulary has filled up with new terms in the last few years: Well-being, mindfulness, work-life balance and self-care are just a few of my new word friends. They’re an important part of our agency fabric and rightly make an appearance at workshops or management presentations.
But here’s my take on this subject and answer to the question – I plan on committing more time to professional development and growth for my team. And what will take a back seat to allow this? The stuff I listed up there.
Don’t get me wrong. I totally see the value of my team’s well-being and I urge them to prioritise some self-care whilst balancing life and work. I get how important these things are and welcome the openness with which we all talk.
However, I’ve decided that where I can have a bigger impact for the brilliant people I work alongside is in helping them grow in their professional roles.
Clear development plans, training and inspiration to help them expand their thinking, and strategies to make them creative machines devouring any brief. My theory is that this will do wonders for their self-belief, confidence and progression, and have a pretty shiny impact on their well-being too. More so than a weekly team sound-bath in meeting room 2.
I’m committing to stepping away from my laptop more often. By this I don’t mean less work time, instead, I'm allowing myself creative thinking time. So often when conceptualising ideas or tackling client challenges, I find a short walk to allow processing time is the best thing for my creativity and output - yet so much of our perceptions of productivity are tied to being on our laptops without a moment of pause. Therefore allowing myself more time to step away, get outside and think creatively without guilt is my commitment in 2024.
2024 – The year of No.
We were promised 2023 to be the year of true reestablished normalcy: normal travel, normal dining out, normal gigs, normal football matches, normal holidays... normal office hours? Good luck with that!
But as 2023 meme queen Cilla Black says: “Surprise, surprise!”
We didn’t really do the math, did we? We didn’t factor in the slight obsession with fullness the pandemic would engender in us, an understandable trauma response when so much of life has been restricted or erased, for years on end.
The result is a hardwired need to make the most out of everything, there is no longer “just” doing.
We are no longer just going to the post office, oh no.
You’d better plan that journey effectively and efficiently.
Verify if there are any grocery stores en route, perhaps you could fit in a bit of Christmas shopping at that peculiar, has-a-little-bit-of-everything, I-would-never-have-stepped-foot-in-it-before-2020 card shop.
Time is a gift not a given!
In perfect Italian form, I do miss the moments dedicated to doing nothing. I am not the only one, surely, and this whole repletion of Time is not sustainable anyway.
Nature does not abhor a vacuum; it rather needs it to regenerate and make space for the new.
So, my New Year's resolution is to spend more time doing absolutely nothing.
My 2024 mantra will be “no”.
No to making holidays productive, no to perfectly non-vital calls, no to carelessly donating hours of my life to litigious strangers on social media, no to tyrannically organised shopping trips, no to academy-award styling my hair to go on said shopping trips.
No! No! No!
I will battle this modern-day plenism with all the power of my yawns and stretches.
I intend to be successfully very, very bored.
Without doubt, the priority in 2024 is growth. Growth of our revenue, reputation, output, culture and talent. We’re hyper focused on this and are investing in the people and processes to enable it.
But to grow sustainably, we cannot ignore the value we bring to our clients’ business. We literally exist to make things more efficient, more effective and hopefully, a little more exciting. Commerciality cannot come at the expense of creativity. It’s not why we turn up to work every day.
To build and maintain the Buttermilk creative spirit, 2024 will see us stop and start behaviours and initiatives across recruitment, professional development, new business and operations. As an agency that is sitting at the centre of the creator economy, we need to be close to culture and understand creativity in this new context.
We want to work with brands that talk, think and feel the same way as we do about creativity and creators. So our filter for saying yes to new projects and pitches will allow us to make work we are proud of.
We want to hear, appreciate, build on and learn from diverse voices, so we will attract talent that allows us to develop work that is authentic and relevant.
Having made senior hires from some of the best creative agencies, we intend to share with our staff that perspective on what good looks like through internal training sessions. But we will be actively encouraging external training and ‘time for inspiration’ for staff to visit galleries, go to gigs and anything else that gets their creative juices flowing.
Post-pandemic the way we work has changed, allowing us to adopt the hybrid model full-time. We’re experiencing flexibility and more convenience, and online calls and remote collaboration have become the norm.
While the tools available to us have undoubtedly enhanced efficiency, we face an issue, particularly in client servicing. The reduction in face-to-face interactions has, in turn, diminished client-facing time. This shift in behaviour can impact relationship rapport with day-to-day and senior clients and the ability to really get under the skin of client’s needs or problems. Doing this goes beyond securing new briefs. It helps us become a trusted partner, understand clients as a person as well as at a professional level, knowing what really motivates them.
Recognising the importance of fostering meaningful relationships, we need to recalibrate our approach in the upcoming year. The goal is to strike a balance between virtual and physical interactions that suits both agency and client, deliberately prioritising in-person meetings when it matters. This does mean we’ll have to sometimes say goodbye to the minute commute from the bed to home office or doing the school run in the middle of the day but the creating opportunities by in-person interactions will build accounts and relationships organically.
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