“The era of ‘Deutschland AG’, where you met clients on the golf course or with the Rotarians, is long gone.”

“The era of ‘Deutschland AG’, where you met clients on the golf course or with the Rotarians, is long gone.”

February 26, 2020

Susanne Mathony - Strategische Positionierungs Beratung

Is it sufficient to go golfing as a consultant or is it important to build a “personal brand” at LinkedIn?
On which social media channels should you be present? And how should one act there?
In the second part of the interview, we talked about these questions with Susanne Mathony, CEO & Founder of Mathony Brand Strategists. She has more than two decades of experience in Marketing and Communications for Accenture, Strategy& and Russell Reynolds Associates, among others.

CONSULTING.de: How important is personal branding for the individual consultant? Is it not enough to maintain the classical professional network?

Susanne Mathony: In my experience, there is no way around personal branding. We live in the era of human-to-human Marketing. Companies do not buy an abstract professional services brand, but rather the people, the consultants, in whom they have long-term trust.
The era of ‘Deutschland AG’, where they met new customers on the golf course or the Rotarians, is long gone.

We live in a fast-paced world characterized by digitalization and agility. If Professional Services players opt-out here and hope for classic print mailings as the only way to cultivate relationships, they miss the enormous leverage of social media. On a platform like LinkedIn – and only this platform currently makes sense – they are the curator of their own history. They showcase there experience in specific fields and what canon of values stands behind them as a human being.

Important to stress: Consultants need the triad. The classic corporate account, flanked by both a very visible CEO/country manager and the so-called “LinkedIn Brand Ambassadors”. These are active consultants from the individual practices and industries. It is a misconception that LinkedIn is a pure recruiting channel. It is the world’s most important business network platform where CEOs and board members also operate.

CONSULTING.de: Which consultants do good self-marketing in your personal opinion? Who might want to look to for inspiration?

Susanne Mathony: Have a look at the Social Selling Index (SSI) bei LinkedIn! Management consultants are not always the best ‘self-promoters’. Their individual score is currently an average of 32 out of 100 points. Hence there is still plenty of room for improvement. This is also the reason why consultancies are currently investing so heavily in social media training and tools across all hierarchy levels.

Please let me name two people from outside the consulting industry – Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz and Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO VW China.
Both meet the Top 5 requirements for me:

  1. Their content mix is convincing; i.e. they do not continuously promote their corporate brand, but additionally cover topics that are important for their business.
  2. They communicate highly professionally – and yet allow a short glimpse at the semi-personal.
  3. They also always take a stand (“Haltung”) and demonstrate clear, sometimes even edgy, perspectives. Take a look at the extremely high engagement rates of Stephan Wöllenstein on COVID19. He underlines that China is not only the most important sales market for VW, but also shows human sympathy. This has brought him more than 1,000 new followers per week. In contrast, others so far have only uploaded traditional Powerpoint slides on the influence of the pandemic on the supply chains in the automotive industry.
  4. Both, or rather their Marketing teams, have understood the power of images. They don’t just buy boring exchangeable stock photos, but invest in professional shootings with photographers. This strategy make the brand and the CEO behind it come alive with all its nooks and crannies.
  5. Both of them appear authentic.

CONSULTING.de: Which media channels and genres are particularly important for consultants?

Susanne Mathony: A killer solution – a one size fix all tool – does not exist for the success of a consulting brand. What everyone needs – whether a hidden champion or a global player – is a well thought-out, profound strategy as the basis for Marketing and Communication activities. Only with a clearly defined USP can a consulting brand continue to grow and flourish – and differentiate itself from the competition.

There is no way around a good marketing mix in a multi-channel strategy: This includes classic PR as well as social media posts or tailor-made events, be they in-house or global platforms such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. There is a good reason why all major consultancies act as sponsors here, i.e. they invest between one and three million euros for their presence there. Advertising, employer branding and targeted CRM measures are also part of the mix.

About the interviewee:
Susanne Mathony, CEO and Founder of Mathony Brand Strategists.
The international marketing and communications consultant looks back on more than two decades of management experience in the field of professional services. She has worked in EMEA and globally for Accenture, Strategy& and Russell Reynolds Associates, among others.
The trained journalist and political scientist kicked-off her career in a Washington-based think tank.