One of the first marketing agency searches we ran in 2010 was for Citrix. After years of working with a big, networked media agency they realized that they were nothing more than a little fish in a great big agency pond.

A carousel of account managers, the “B” team at best on the account, and inertia in getting things from the agency.

I’ve seen too many marketers get enamored by the prospects of working with a big-name agency.

After all, it’s the safe option, right? Whoever would question bringing on a well-known firm? You’d look super smart and super strategic for the move, right? At least until things start going South.

And I’ve seen just the opposite occur. Marketers coming to us feeling like they are the biggest fish in a very small agency pond. Maybe at one point in time, the marriage was a good one. Your needs weren’t as great as they are today, the marketing world wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today, and the competitive landscape looked a lot different “back then”.

You’ve grown and your needs have grown, but your agency hasn’t. Seen it, done it…helped many a marketer find their way out of the “big fish/small pond” conundrum.

So how do you avoid situations like these? The first step is to properly define your needs, the plusses and minuses of the agency you currently work with and the profile of the right kind of agency. We wrote a post about it back in September, called “Scope it.  Don’t hope it!”. Give it a read. It will provide you with some nice direction to help you start your search on the right foot.

The other thing we do when running a search is to ask the agency where our marketing client will fall in rank order relative to their other clients. We also ask about the longevity of their clients. Always good to know that an agency can effectively service large and small clients with equal value.

And one of the last things you should do is not let your ego get in the way of your decision.

Yeah, you might know the agency from a former life, or your boss may have recommended them.

But if they aren’t a good fit, they aren’t a good fit. You might look like the hero today, but at the end of the day, you might end up being the goat.

Remember how short CMO tenure is these days. Don’t become another statistic. Make smart choices or let us help you make the smart choices.