Jaywalking in consulting: Be smarter than your competitors

Op-ed piece on the leading B2B portal Consulting.de with ~ 55.000 readers and ~ 95.000 page views monthly

Jaywalking in consulting: Be smarter than your competitors

January 19, 2022

Leaving the mainstream and taking unusual paths in communication – that’s what I recommend to companies in times of multi-crisis and in a BANI environment. (Image: Bastography / photocase.com)

It’s called “jaywalking” in the US-speaking world when …

… people like I jump the red light – at least when there are no children or police around. I’m probably too impatient or my mind is elsewhere.

Targeted rule violations in communication – especially in social media – are also increasingly referred to as jaywalking. The more complex the stacking crisis becomes, the less sense traditional patterns make.

Top business leaders seem to think so, too. Many are no longer waiting dutifully. They go on the offensive, break norms or communicate their own narrative.

Are you interested in examples of communicative jaywalking?

Instead of relying on the media’s interpretation, Donata Hopfen secured communicative air supremacy. On LinkedIn, she posted why the DFL and she are going their separate ways .
Pro-actively, she seized on speculation about the ‘wild ride‘ of her eleven-month tenure. “For all of this, you need staying power, the backing and joint action of all stakeholders. This one I did not feel at the end.”

This makes it no exception. Also Herbert Diess communicated his view on stepping down as CEO. Ditto Tina Müller. Under the headerIt’s time for a changeshe explained her move to the Supervisory Board. Confidently, she highlights her five achievements as CEO of Douglas. In this way, it preempted the interpretation of third parties and shaped media coverage.

What unites them? The acceptance of the BANI world!

All three practice jaywalking with their communication strategy and respond to the new BANI world. BANIBrittle, Anxious, Nonlinear & Incomprehensible – comes from futurist Jamai Caisco.

We live in situations where conditions are not only unstable, but chaotic. In which outcomes are not only difficult to predict, but completely unpredictable.” he argues.

When nothing is linear anymore, the chain of cause and effect no longer necessarily applies in communication and marketing either. Jaywalking can therefore be a smart move for professional services players as well.

Three reasons why jaywalking is also a powerful strategy for consultants and accountants

1. The pandemic has eroded visibility by 37 percentage points – even that of top consulting brands

Studies show: Perceptions of even excellently positioned, highly visible top consulting brands have fallen from 23.1% in 2020 to 14.6% in 2022.

In Marketing and Sales, this leads to the question:

  • Do enough potential clients even know who we are?
  • Are we still in the relevant set?

This is where the correlation between relevance and visibility becomes a pain point.
Consultants and auditors who are considered highly relevant have high visibility. But only those who have something to say become visible in the media noise. That requires more than mainstream truths.

2. Maximum shortened decision horizon

Decision-makers look for solutions for the next quarter. According to a study by Grist, one in five top decision-makers is focusing on the coming quarter. 38% are looking exclusively to the next three to twelve months for their company.

The consequences?
Not only shorter pitch and sales cycles, but also a significantly smaller relevant set.

This closes the circle to #1:
In times of crisis, it is precisely those strategy consultancies and accounting firms that are established – and visible – as quick solution guarantors that have a competitive advantage.

Trust like pitches are won by those players who can solve problems in the short term. Long-term outlooks á la “eMobility 2030” are of less interest right now; liquidity bottlenecks at the end of the month, on the other hand, are.

3. Thought leadership as a witch’s cauldron: more and more, faster and faster – but sometimes BANI-unsuitable

Even before the pandemic, 71% of decision-makers criticized: Only every second study provides valuable insights.

The current poly crisis makes thought leadership even more important. But: Noise and content expectations have increased exponentially. More than ever, the curse and blessing of the Gartner study applies. According to this, 83% of a typical B2B purchase decision is made BEFORE the first contact is made.

In B2B, sales-associated partners have only 5% of the total time a client spends on the entire buyer journey. You need to score “spot-on.” Otherwise, they are out.

Jaywalking – for example, crisp theses with a strong stance – is much more promising than 120-page PowerPoint. Finally, 81% of board members want provocative insights that challenge their own thinking.

For more on how to leverage your sales with smart studies, find out more here:


5 tips on how to practice jaywalking yourself

1. Speed, speed, speed

New news situations every day demand speed! Time is money. What is true in peacetime – plannability and controllability for content and messages – can be forgotten in times of crisis.

Speed and agility are in demand. Openness to new thinking, new approaches and real change helps. Act and communicate as a sleek speedboat, not a heavy tanker.

2. Genuine appreciation of LinkedIn – also at partner level

Even though Professional Services has invested millions in LinkedIn coaching and corporate influencer programs over the past three years:
70-80% of partners still do not value LinkedIn; that is, they secretly do not believe in its relevance.

Thereby, it is the #1 news channel when it comes to fast visibility through serious aggravation. On LinkedIn, there’s no need for long lead times with editors or in-house voting, just laser-sharp opinions.

The prerequisite: knowledge of how social media works.
Everyone could see how fatal non-knowledge is from Christine Lambrecht’s New Year’s Eve video. Anyone who can live with this “expectation radicalism” and avoids “Erlebniswurstigkeit” should play their trump cards on LinkedIn.

3. Courage to take a stand – even if this makes you vulnerable to attack

The Jaywalker is characterized by the courage to take a clear stance. This is connected with curiosity, openness and almost childlike joy to discover one’s own way and to try out new things. This is how the Jaywalker develops himself and his organization.

If you’re wondering: How do I find my own voice, use “Pain is the pitch” as inspiration.

Those who experience their clients’ pain points on a daily basis have the competence – and the right – to extrapolate bold solutions. The fact that truth also hurts once in a while is part of the deal and the value proposition.

4. Focus, focus, focus

Despite the current mishmash, I sometimes see clients who continue to try to develop thought leadership on all industries, topics and countries.

To be honest, this is not without risk – especially for smaller and medium-sized players without a huge intellectual capital base. Especially longer study formats often take too long – see #1 “Speed, Speed, Speed”.

Rather, focus on specific problems that are plaguing their clients right now like:

  • What do I do if logistics chains collapse again due to the Corona wave in China after the New Year?
  • As a large SME, what do I learn from the German government’s new China strategy? The fact that “change through trade” has not worked in the case of Russia and should not be repeated naively has, after all, been repeated too often.

5. Partners/senior partners as successful non-mainstream Marketers

Taken to its logical conclusion, jaywalking is a smart visibility strategy – albeit one for experts. En passent assignments to the PR team: ‘Write visionary byliners and scribble quotes guaranteed to be printed by every leading medium‘ don’t work. The same is true for 100% outsourced LinkedIn accounts.

Jaywalking is something for advanced walkers. And not because in-house teams aren’t fit enough. They often act too far away from clients and their pain points.

Therefore, my appeal to the partner/senior partner level: Show your expertise yourself – with a pointed pen and without a thousand data points, but decades of experience on the “front lines”.

Conclusion: “Act! Act! That is what we are here for!

Already in 1794 called Johann Gottlieb Fichte “Act! Act! That is what we are here for! in his lecture. In crises, the winner is the one who takes his fate, his visibility – and his sales – into his own hands.

Of course, jaywalking – the deliberate breaking of rules in marketing and communication – can also cause irritation at times.

But it increases brand awareness and opens doors to new communication spaces. In these, fruitful controversial discussions are held. And above all: clients feel picked up in the confusing world by courageous pilots.

If you are looking for a senior sparrings partner to act and make higher sales now: Let’s have a phone call!

Author: Susanne Mathony

Susanne Mathony
Susanne Mathony

The positioning of brands and people are my passion. For more than two decades, I have lived out my calling with CEO positioning, strategic marketing and communications consulting, PR and business storytelling.
Added in 2014 was the Social Media Consulting. Here, the focus is on #SocialCEO and personal branding and positioning of boards and teams on LinkedIn.My home is Professional Services. At GSA and EMEA level, I worked for AlixPartners, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), Strategy& as well as Russell Reynolds Associates, among others.
As a political scientist and trained journalist, I started my career at a Washington, D.C., think tank.

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