Partnership: How an Embedded Model Attains the Impossible

Speed, quality, and value—as the old adage goes, in advertising you can’t have all three. If you want quality and speed, it’ll cost you. If you want value, time will not be on your side. But rules were meant to be broken. Enter the embedded model. 

In a nutshell, an embedded model puts clients shoulder to shoulder with their agency teams. Unlike the traditional and clearly segregated client-agency relationship, the embedded model has clients and agency teams brainstorming together, editing each other’s work, talking daily, and often sitting in the same offices.They have shared goals and an environment of openness and trust, and they end up working together as teammates and often friends. As a result, work gets done faster, there’s less room for error, and it ends up costing less. And there you have it: speed, quality, and value.

At Firewood, the embedded model was a natural outcome of our core belief that good people are good business. This applies equally to people who work at Firewood and to the clients we work with. We’re proud of the numerous successful partnerships we’ve had in the past nine years, and the industry has taken notice. The power of partnership is what keeps our business thriving. 

Today, a number of Firewoodians are embedded within our clients’ teams. We spoke with a few to get their take on the benefits of sitting shoulder to shoulder with clients. Here’s what they had to say.

Gaining speed through proximity and access

Being embedded means we have access to ecosystems and, more importantly, the clients themselves. Working side by side translates to huge time gains and levels of knowledge that would be impossible to get any other way. Instead of having to wait for feedback or an answer to an email, we can just walk up to a client and resolve things with a  five-minute, on-the-spot sync.

“I enjoy working embedded with my client, because we are able to be more efficient in getting things done and in working together as a holistic team, as opposed to as a separate agency.” —Senior Digital Marketing Manager, US

Working side by side translates to huge time gains and levels of knowledge that would be impossible to get any other way.

With the embedded model, our team becomes an extension of a client’s team. Working in lockstep with our partners from day one gives us the ability to be nimble and adapt to strategy changes quickly. In a world that’s moving faster than ever, this speed is invaluable.

“This model works well from a communication standpoint. Being around the day-to-day activities and as close to the work at hand allows us to move quicker and with accuracy. Simply put, we are as close to their goals as they are, and it allows us to deliver in a way that may not be possible for others.” —Senior Account Director, US

“Simply put, we are as close to their goals as they are, and it allows us to deliver in a way that may not be possible for others.”

Mutual buy-in leads to quality work

One team. One goal. Our partnership is a two-way street. Just as our clients value us as members of their team, we value their business needs and objectives, and understand them from the inside out.  

“You build an in-this-together attitude and, to quote a client’s recent feedback: ‘Firewood can only be viewed as having your back. In my experience, that is THE ingredient to make anything successful.’” —Senior Account Manager, UK

Working closely alongside the client instills a sense of collaboration and buy-in. We end up viewing the client’s goals as our own. When they win, we win. This feeling of camaraderie—coupled with a deep understanding of their wants and needs, and the ability to have quick conversations—greatly reduces errors and miscommunications, and leads to high-quality work and integrity. Ultimately, the embedded model helps bring the Firewood “we partner” philosophy to life.

“By working so closely together, we’re able to build a level of understanding and trust with our clients that more quickly leads to more happiness on both sides of the relationship.” —Creative Director, US

Above all else, humanity 

Perhaps the most important ingredient in the Firewood embedded model’s secret sauce is the shared sense of humanity that comes as a result of people working closely together. In addition to firsthand knowledge of our clients’ goals, objectives, and processes, we end up having a deep understanding of their daily struggles. As a senior digital marketing manager in the US puts it: “I provide value, but I also provide entertainment—jokes, anecdotes, etc.—to really help foster a productive partnership that goes far beyond the traditional, more formal, agency-client model.”

Speed + quality = value

In the embedded model, rather than being the third point of an impossible triangle, value becomes the natural outcome of speed and quality. The efficiencies from working closely together and having the same goals are gained in terms of cost too. But value is also added in many other ways.

“With a deep understanding of our clients and their goals, we can find solutions quicker than any outside agency could.” —Creative Director, US

“The added benefit of being embedded is that, along with empathy, we still have an emotional distance that allows us to see the bigger picture and suggest different and creative solutions to get the clients to where they want to be. I’m considered a member of their extended team, so they fully trust that I have their best interests in mind.” —Senior Digital Marketing Manager, US

Firewood has always been an agency that puts people first. The two mottos we live by are “we partner” and “good people are good business.” We take these to heart.

“My client team and I are able to connect on a personal level, share experiences, and deepen relationships, which makes working together more productive and enjoyable all around.” —Manager of Media Strategy, US

The embedded model is what allows us to bridge that gap between client and agency to deliver results in an always-on world with speed, quality, and value. What the embedded model boils down to is true partnership. And at the end of the day, relationships are what make the difference. Building ones based on trust, respect, and shared goals can make the impossible possible.

The embedded model is what allows us to bridge that gap between client and agency to deliver results in an always-on world with speed, quality, and value.

Vivian Huang is a digital marketing manager on an embedded team leading national and local market social strategy and brand creative projects for a Firewood technology client.

Liza Mock is a senior copywriter working closely with a Firewood technology client to create both internal and external emails, decks, and other communications.

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