Now is the time to activate that plan to be better in 2015. Driving the plan, no doubt, is a piercing analysis of the opportunities provided by the coming months, aided possibly by the seasonal supply of crystal ball gazing, from a wide variety of sages, as we embark upon a tricky year to call, all things considered.

Hopefully there is a dynamic strategy in place, tight enough to guide strong, clear thinking, flexible enough to encourage inspired, agile doing. As ever, growth on some dimension will be paramount with a focus, therefore, on business development, innovation, acquisition, operational efficiency and talent nurturing as the most influential levers.

Will this be a year, though, in which the management of business relationships firmly establishes itself within the realms of strategy? Indeed, will we talk about relationship strategy per se? I certainly hope so and James Murphy, founder and CEO of creative agency Adam & Eve/DDB, seems to think so.

In his recent piece for Campaign magazine, ‘The Year ahead for Ad Agencies’, Murphy predicts “the renaissance of the full-service agency”, reflecting trends within client organisations and the desire from individual marketers to conjure and from “the good old consumer” to enjoy a single, coherent brand experience.

As Murphy concedes, this is largely a client-driven shift. Firstly, there is energy for simpler, more streamlined corporate structures and brand portfolios, including, within this model, a consolidation of agency rosters. Result: clients working with fewer agencies.

In addition, there is renewed interest among clients in the ‘lead agency’ concept, where a small team within one provider in effect curates the thinking and output of a wider group of specialists. This has previously fallen foul of creative parochialism but this time around it is more likely to be supported by credible, more open-minded practitioners within the lead agency who can genuinely embrace the breadth of technology and execute ideas across traditional and new media. Result: clients working closely with fewer people (within fewer agencies).

The relationship impact of “these emerging agency arrangements” is less about the number of agencies in the mix. Rather, as Murphy suggests, “It signals a return to more profound relationships between brands and marketers and their key strategic agencies”. Result (surely): the need for relationship strategy.

What does this mean, what defines a more profound relationship? Fundamentally it’s about where we set the bar. Forget about client satisfaction (to my mind, simply the absence of negatives) and think about striving for client commitment where you advocate on each other’s behalf and earn the status of a trusted advisor. The best definition I have heard of a trusted advisor goes like this: ‘You know you are a trusted advisor when a client calls you for advice in an area where you are not an expert’.

There lies a deeper, richer, more rewarding relationship, starting with the establishment of rapport, fuelled by unshakeable trust and ending, potentially, with a client for life.

In practice, the twin deliverables of relationship strategy are understanding your client/customer needs (professional and personal) and relationship behaviour. Both trip off the tongue, neither is as easy as it sounds. In fact they have never been harder to deliver, given, for example, pressure on time, the demand of more for less, the habit of social shortcuts rather than personal contact, the trimming of training budgets and, critically, a consequent short-termism rather than important consideration of future client needs and how to meet them.

If the CEO of one the UK’s most lauded creative businesses believes that 2015 will see a shift to a fuller service agency offer with significant implications for the client relationships which will underpin this arrangement, then we can’t be too far from a tipping point.

But let’s take it further. Let’s agree that relationships have never been more important in business and truly deserve to be regarded as one of the powerful strategic drivers of a successful enterprise.