Started my career working for DDB Needham in Chicago in 1985 (oy, that was a long time ago!).

The agency had the Sears account.

Could have been a great account had they gotten their act together inside their stores.

Needham produced beautiful creative that painted the picture of the “new Sears”, but the stores simply didn’t deliver.

Walked into one and it would look like your grandmother’s Sears.  Campaign did nothing to juice up the sales of the stores.

That was part of the frustration with Sears.  The other was the local nature of the account.

We spent more time at Sears than we did talking with any other account.  When they wanted to discuss something with us, it was a call to request a visit, and never just a call.

I think at the end of the day it was the ease with which they could call on us at their will that made them a more tactical bunch and made us not think about the implications of what they were trying to do with their “make-over”.

In some respects we resented it.  We probably made less money on that account than most because of all the man (and woman) hours dedicated to driving to Sears to deal with the next fire drill.

I think there’s a tendency for a Marketer to take advantage of a local firm (even if they don’t mean to) and dominate a firm’s time (even if they aren’t doing it consciously).

What happens is the agency will tend to get frustrated, resent the fact that they are being pulled at will to the client, and then tend to think smaller about the client and not be there to help them think strategically about the decisions their making relative to their business and how marketing fits into the overall picture.

So going local can be good…but if you’re one of those marketers that likes their hand held all the time, get a marketing assistant, not a local agency.  Reality is you really only need to see your agency about once a quarter, if that.

What’s key is finding the right agency, with the right set of creds, that matches your personality, and has proven successes of working with clients outside of their local market.

They’re out there…you just need to work a little to find them.