Joe Koufman is on a mission to play matchmaker between brands and marketers seeking well-vetted experts in specialized disciplines. The new twist has resulted in AgencySparks, which connects numerous Atlanta-area agencies in an effort to produce the best possible product for clients’ needs. Koufman launched the idea in 2014 after working as a seasoned professional and seeing firsthand how agencies and clients fall short when trying to find one another.
Koufman, who is armed with 20+ years of marketing, management, and business development experience, uncovered his passion for helping agencies grow after working at Engauge (now Moxie). He works alongside hired gun Stephanie Peterman, Director of Business Development, who holds expertise in business development, marketing, and media relations. We recently spoke with Koufman to hear how the team soothes marketing heartaches and sparks connections.
AgencySparks connects brands with thoroughly-vetted specialist marketing agencies that are best-of-breed in a single discipline.
What problem are you solving?
Marketers want to work with specialist marketing agencies (rather than generalists), but often have a hard time finding them. AgencySparks helps set the “first date” and it’s up to the brand and the agency to decide if they want the “kiss” at the end of the first date.
Describe the market/industry impact:
AgencySparks is the conduit between brands/marketers and specialist marketing agencies. Both parties would like to connect, but have a hard time finding each other.
How’d you get the idea for it?
I spent eight years working for a dotcom (KnowledgeStorm) that connected business software companies with buyers/leads, then spent six+ years leading business development and marketing for Engauge, a large, independent marketing agency (now Moxie). While our agency was good at a lot of things, there were still services we promised to clients without having real expertise. I hated that and wanted to work with agencies that are experts in their discipline. I was passionate about helping agencies grow and solving marketing problems for clients, so AgencySparks was the result of my vision to solve both problems.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
There are many companies that help connect clients and agencies, but most of them are paid by clients to conduct an RFP (request for proposal) process. Those that are paid by agencies, typically keep their processes and other agency relationships veiled in secrecy. AgencySparks is very transparent about which agencies are in our network, where their expertise lies, and how we connect with brands. There is no magic, it’s hard work building transparent relationships. We’ve been publishing great content on the AgencySparks blog to explain how brands and agencies can work better together.
Who are some of the companies/agencies that you are working with in Atlanta, what experience do they bring to your clients?
We are fortunate to work with some of the top agencies in Atlanta that are hyper-focused on being the best at their craft. The Atlanta-based agencies in our network include Creaxion (public relations and events), BrightWave (email), Vert (social and mobile marketing), THINK (web design and user experience), Dragon Army (app. development), Hencar (video), and Capitol Media Solutions (media planning & buying). We will soon be adding two more agencies – one focused on creative and one focused on analytics and search engine marketing/optimization.
How have you seen your idea thrive?
We have had a number of success stories. One involves a major company in Atlanta that used to work with agencies that claimed to be good at everything. Now they are working with several of our agencies, and are excited to have their expertise. Another example involved pulling two of our agency partners together to solve a particular client challenge. It’s always fun when our agencies collaborate!
How does Atlanta weave into your story?
I have been carefully building relationships with major brands and agencies in Atlanta for the last 16 years. I serve on the boards of the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AIMA) and the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Atlanta has been an integral part of the AgencySparks story, and we feel so fortunate to live in such a wonderfully supportive city.
What’s the future for you and your agency?
AgencySparks recently launched services that directly assist clients, but still support our larger mission to connect brands and specialist agencies. For example, we are working with a large point-of-sale/payment processing company to build a roadmap to the perfect digital marketing ecosystem. Once we get buy-in from the senior leadership, they may need help finding the right agency partners to solve their marketing challenges. We intend to continue growing our relationships with brands and connecting them with the right agency partners, but we can also help those brands solve their marketing challenges (which often leads to a need for additional agency support).
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