AgencySparks - A New Company Is Born

Posted by Joe on Sunday, February 2, 2014 Under: AgencySparks
I could not be any more excited to announce that I have launched a new company - AgencySparks!  

AgencySparks provides business development and communications consulting services to marketing agencies.  

I want to share the story of how the company was born:

Very soon after I left my agency of the last six years, in early January of 2014, I felt VERY fortunate to have several excellent opportunities.  Most of them were with small-medium sized agencies looking for me to help them grow, like I had helped Spunlogic/Engauge.

As I weighed the different options, I talked to several friends and mentors.  Several of these friends (being entrepreneurs themselves) asked me if I would consider starting my own agency.  As I pondered that idea, I thought through the amount of capital and time it would take to begin from scratch with a new agency.  Also I began to think about whether my passion was truly the agency business, or just helping agencies grow.  

Around this time, I got a note from a friend (thanks Kelly), who is a brand marketer, asking me for advice about which agency she should select for a specific marketing challenge.  I helped her by recommending some choices, but that got me thinking about the idea of helping not one agency, but multiple agencies, find opportunities and nurture them.

Frankly most agencies do a terrible job of bringing on new clients and most clients do a terrible job bringing new agencies on board.  Agencies rely on referrals from past clients or friends of the agency, which is great, but not scalable.  Clients put agencies through a grueling RFP process, rather than choosing agencies they know and trust to do great work.

My long time friend and colleague, Jeff Hilimire recently expounded on the subject of the broken relationship between agencies and clients at an AMA Atlanta event and blog post.  It is a must read for anyone in the brand or agency business.  I will paraphrase two points Jeff makes that are directly relevant to my new business:

  1. The way that clients bring on new agencies (and vice versa) is horribly broken.

  2. Agencies that claim to have every capability are at best naive, and at worst lying to themselves and others.
Jeff also makes a few other excellent points such as there are only a few key people within each agency that are truly deep thinkers, and neither clients nor agencies can keep up with the pace of consumers' usage of technology.

Since there are some problems with the agency model, as I have personally experienced it (from inside a small, single-discipline agency; inside a medium-sized, independent full-service agency; and inside a massive holding company agency), it made me remember why the scrappy, independent agency is so powerful.  They are truly experts in their craft, and are laser focused on delivering the best service, technology, and approach, and in my opinion provide the best bang-for-the-buck.

Knowing that the single biggest challenge that agencies face (especially small/medium ones) is growing, I began to think about how I could have a significant impact on these smaller agencies.  While helping one agency could be fun and interesting, helping several is more interesting.  

Most agencies see the value in bringing in new clients (promotions, new hires, acquisition opportunities, etc.), but few have a repeatable, sustainable process.  This is where I have thrived in the last six years.  Not only have I built strong relationships with major brand marketers, but I have also developed processes and tools that have helped sustain those relationships.  This experience has resulted in huge new business wins for Spunlogic/Engauge over my years there.

Now it is time to apply all of these years of experience, relationships, and tools to a new venture.  I appreciate your interest in AgencySparks.  I hope you will join me on my journey!


In : AgencySparks 

Tags: agencysparks  "business development consulting"  "marketing agency consulting"  "agency growth" 
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