When I conduct an agency search for a client one of the first things I ask them is does it matter where the agency is located? Some say within an hour air travel. Some say wherever the best agency is that meets our needs. And on one occasion a client selected an agency a couple of time zones away. I don’t think it worked out in the end. It may not have been a travel issue. There are all kinds of distance in the game. In the end though most clients like to stay pretty close to home in my experience.
Most agencies that reach out to me would like to think that where they are located doesn’t matter. But then again they like to rationale obstacles and they aren’t clients.
I think that distance is becoming less important in the New Normal digital world. Just like clients don’t really care if agencies use consultants or have freelance employees as long as there is continuity.
I am always surprised by the great agency talent that can be anywhere. I remember walking into an agency in Lincoln Nebraska called Swanson Russell and they had 125 people. I didn’t expect that on the other side of their door. I recently connected with a design agency in the LA area called Pastilla Institute of Design that did a lot of great work for Microsoft’s launch of their Surface tablet. They weren’t in Venice Beach or Culver City. They were in Monrovia. No that is not in the Balkans.
My daughter works in the business in Chicago. Her agency has a client that’s located close to where I live here in the OC.
I was having an early morning breakfast at Zinc in Corona Del Mar the other day with the President of a large agency with multiple offices across the country. We were talking about the challenges of building an agency culture where employees wearing ear buds and work at long table with six inch high dividers between them. At some point during our chat she said, “I don’t want my employees at the office. I want them with the client. I want them building relationships.”
That reminded me of a famous United Commercial called Speech. It ran in the Old Normal. It was a 60 second spot. No it didn’t run in the Super Bowl. It ran on any night of the week. In the commercial the head of a company walks into a room of employees and says that he had a call that morning from the firm’s biggest client who fired the company after a 20 year relationship. “The client said that he doesn’t know us anymore.” He lamented that communication between them had fallen into a routine of phone calls and faxes. He then proceeded to hand out a stack of United Airline tickets. That spot has always stuck with me.
Today, in our world of conducting business using texts and emails can create immediacy but it does not create intimacy. So does it matter where your agency is located? No. Not at all. As long as you aren’t too far away.
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