Does It Matter Where Your Advertising Agency is Located?

Standard

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.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Watch: Why Agency Principals Need to Get Out of the Game.

Read: Creating an Agency Culture in the New Normal.

What Kind of Client are You?

The Most Powerful Word in Agency New Business is NO.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Does It Matter Where Your Advertising Agency is Located?

  1. Interesting perspective. FaceTime is so important and if an agency is committed to earning business from a client half way across the country then they also need to be committed both financially and physically to making that trip often. Another solutions old be to have an employee embedded in the client’s building or closely so that agency is involved daily with the clients business up lose and personal.

  2. Interesting perspective. FaceTime is so important and if an agency is committed to earning business from a client half way across the country then they also need to be committed both financially and physically to making that trip often. Another solutions old be to have an employee embedded in the client’s building or closely so that agency is involved daily with the clients business up close and personal.

  3. Michael Miller

    I think the time zone thing is very important. It is easier for a client on the west to work with an agency in the east, than vice versa. At the end of the day (you know, the 5-6pm day) you want your clients to have a work afterlife if at all possible. Face time can be addressed with a field office near the client, with production out of the agencies headquarters.

  4. I also love that United commercial, “I am going to see an old friend.” But I would say it does matter where an agency is located, it’s just that proximity does not matter. Markets draw certain kinds of talent. Cities have personalities, capacities and attitudes. As long as these measures at your agency align with what you are trying to do, then you are looking at the right agency. But their home does matter, it’s just not necessary that it is your home, or even close.

  5. stevefawthrop

    Hank, that United commercial is classic and, thanks, to our good friends at YouTube available for viewing:

    You also got me to go look at the Microsoft Surface campaign since I was not familiar with Pastilla and Msoft is, of course, local to me.

  6. I agree with you in a very general way. If the agency has a good understanding of your business, it really doesn’t matter where they are located. On the flip side, if what you are promoting or selling is more of local product, it might better with an agency that is closer and knows the market itself

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s