Last week I attended the opening of what has to be the most expensive and impressive dealership in the United States.
Mercedes-Benz Manhattan is a factory store -- and I must admit that only factory ownership could afford to do something that grand in Manhattan.
Mercedes has been a global company with global products. Most Mercedes cars are made in Germany and exported around the world, although the company has added Alabama to its small elite list of factories.
Today most vehicles are engineered and designed in a central location with input from everywhere. The goal is to create a product for a global market. Companies might build vehicles in their home country or scatter the assembly plants around the globe.
But even though those vehicles may be engineered and designed for a global market, each of them must be marketed and sold locally.
The old saying has never been truer, "Think globally but sell locally."
That can be difficult for many executives to embrace. Each market must make its own marketing decisions on creative platforms and media.
It may be frustrating for the home office, but each market -- just like the local dealer -- knows far more about a particular marketplace than anyone back at corporate headquarters.
It is too easy for top executives to second-guess the folks with their feet on the ground around the world. Although it is difficult to develop vehicles for a global market, it is impossible to develop a marketing plan for the world. It just won't work.
When you go to the next international motor show, regardless of the country, you'll see vehicles that by and large are sold in a variety of nations. But when you visit the individual countries you will notice that the smart manufacturer has tailored its marketing pitch to local consumers in a way that might be radically different from the pitch used in the country right next door.
Dealers know their customers best, and local manufacturers and importers know what works and doesn't work for their national markets.
The smart marketer leaves the selling and marketing to local executives, who in turn listen carefully to dealers.
It must be difficult for top executives to keep their hands off local marketing. But for their own good, they should.