With differentiated positioning and a strong brand, consulting firms can generate 20% more revenue.

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

With differentiated positioning and a strong brand, consulting firms can generate 20% more revenue.

June 27, 2021

Eva Manger-Wiemann (Cardea AG) and Susane Mathony (Mathony Brand Strategists)
Eva Manger-Wiemann (Cardea AG) and Susane Mathony (Mathony Brand Strategists)

Cardea AG and Mathony Brand Strategists join forces – What does that mean in concrete?

Eva Manger-Wiemann: For over twenty years, we at Cardea have been advising clients on consultant selection and offering project-specific “matching”. As a result, we have always been early to identify trends for consulting firms. In the meantime, we are increasingly being asked by top decision-makers in consulting to help shape realignments as well as sales or acquisitions. This requires clean positioning.

Why? Well, because 47% of consultants rate the market perception of their own consulting as only “mediocre”. As many as one in two buyers of consulting services say they have a hard time finding the right management consultant because clear differentiation between consulting firms is lacking or not apparent.

Our market knowledge on both the consulting and client side (over 1,700 project-specific evaluations, each with long lists of up to twelve consulting providers) is a key input for this. In the past, our support usually stopped when it came to implementation at the communication and marketing level. With Susan and MBS as collaborative partners, things are different now.

Susanne Mathony: There are market estimates that say:

With differentiated positioning and a strong brand, consulting players can generate 20% more revenue. With consistent implementation in extreme cases even up to 40%.

This #BeDifferentOrDie therefore decides about growth – or even market share losses. This is exactly why we now offer this “end-to-end solution“. Together we develop holistic positioning solutions.
They are much more effective and better aligned with the needs of the consulting houses.

Our goal is to work with our clients to sharpen their DNA – i.e. both their brand core and the products & services and business models derived from it – so that they remain competitive.
This is the only way they can generate growth in the medium to long term.

We support this with modern Marketing & Communication concepts. More than ever, companies expect to solve problems across disciplines in and after the pandemic. No one wants to buy individual projects like LinkedIn advisory, content marketing or PR anymore. That’s exactly what we deliver: Strategies based on many years of experience and their creative implementation. All of this pays off again and again in terms of the brand core and its stringent positioning.

To put it bluntly:
We don’t sell our clients LinkedIn blurbs because that’s hip right now, but aim for consistent thought leadership and market leadership.

How will the cooperation be visible to the outside world? Is there a joint website?

Eva Manger-Wiemann: Our two companies will remain independent in their market presence. We have developed an integrated, but also modular service bundle for the topic area of “Growth, Positioning, Branding & Marketing“. With this, we are tackling the consulting market together.

Susanne Mathony: We both love speed; that is, we believe more in rapid communication through social media posts and shared features on our corporate blogs than in the certain static nature of websites. Of course, we also do classic mailings about our cooperation, but the impact of joint pitches and workshops is higher.

What was the reason to move together now? What is the growth idea behind the project? After all, cooperation is like a relationship? Can you still remember how it all started?

Susanne Mathony: I can still remember my “very first time” with Cardea. As Head of EMEA Marketing at Booz (now Strategy& as part of the PWC family), I sat in the boardroom at Lenbach-Palais in 2006 with the then heads of Germany and Switzerland. We discussed the growth strategy and new business ideas for the Swiss market. Even then it was clear that without Eva (Manger-Wiemann), without Cardea’s insights, it would not work. We have been in contact ever since.

Why now of all times? One thing is clear: The COVID19 pandemic has set a lot of things in motion in consulting through #remotework, #remoteconsulting and the compulsion to change employer branding. Look at what’s happening right now at Accenture, for example. The house has completed more than 65 acquisitions in the last two years; that is, we are talking about an acquisition every week and a half. This beat rate is higher than some PE players. In that respect, now is our time. Also because Cardea and MBS are about the same thing: sharpening the core from the inside as well as the outside.

Those who do not continuously develop as a consulting brand will disappear from the market in the medium term.

Eva Manger-Wiemann: Susan’s commitment to the consulting industry has always impressed me. For years, we have had an exchange on topics that move the industry. Since Susan has been on the road with MBS, the idea has become more and more manifest that we bring our common positions and attitudes together and make consultants:ins strong together.
In addition to the industry female empowerment in consulting is also very close to our hearts. With Susan, I now have a passionate and successful consultant by my side in this matter.

How will you measure the success of your collaboration? What goals have you defined?

Eva Manger-Wiemann: Quite simply: Satisfied clients and a corresponding demand for our services. As mutual sparring partners, we already benefit from each other. Our goal is to translate the skills, competencies and underlying philosophy of consulting companies into a USP, into the brand and the corresponding communication.

Susanne Mathony: Spot on! Perhaps a concrete example will help. Up to now, German CEOs or senior partners/practice leaders of consulting and auditing firms came to MBS and wanted a positioning as a corporate or personal brand. With more than twenty years of leadership experience at EMEA level, I’ve done this across the board from strategic positioning, messaging, media training, Tier 1-placements and social media advisory incl. personal branding on LinkedIn.

Now I’m going to take it one step further with the concentrated knowledge of Cardea. It is our brand promise to align these elements strategically:

  • What does the market look like?
  • What do my clients and prospects really want?
  • How should the relevant stakeholders, such as the media, decision-makers or CEOs and supervisory boards, perceive me?

For us, success means making the two sides of the same coin shine in joint projects.

If you were to create a Venn diagram together: Where are the clearest overlaps? Where would you like to benefit from each other instead?

Eva Manger-Wiemann: On the one hand, it is the market and competition perspective that Cardea brings to the table. It enables a coherent as well as differentiating, strategic positioning of consulting firms. This includes the “what”, the “how” and the “why” of the market presence. On the other hand, MBS brings the customer-oriented marketing and communication view.

Susanne Mathony: Consulting firms – and this applies to the MBBs as well as the mid-sized players or the hidden champions – want (and need) to be heard in the market and perceived in a differentiated way. This requires customized B2B marketing in the force field of ‘brand, people and services’. Combining our two perspectives allows for future-oriented strategic positioning and customer-focused branding.

Conclusion: At the end of the day, we are two passionate #ConsultantsConsultants. Eva peels out the brand essence with Cardea in the knowledge of competition. I make sure that this core and the corresponding reputation become so visible that the consulting brand really gets into the relevant set of consulting service buyers – and stays there.

I often have the feeling at consulting firms that Marketing – as long as the revenue is right – plays a downstream role. How do you convince consulting firms that they need Marketing and positioning advice?

Eva Manger-Wiemann: I share this assessment only to a limited extent. The current market and market movements show: From the different intentions, positioning AND marketing are very relevant. We sometimes observe that in the day-to-day life of a consultant, the positioning and the actual revenue-generating business drift apart. In the medium term, this can lead to an inconsistent image to the outside world: Marketing and positioning no longer fit together properly. Therefore, it is essential to know your own positioning core. Start where the DNA is and strengthen it.

Communicating the “how and why?” and not just the “what (service offering)” is the order of the day for consultants.

Consulting firms that successfully leverage their positioning in customer acquisition clearly stand out from competitors. We just had a project in the area of “Digital Customer Acquisition”. Here, a client in the banking sector hired one of our featured consultants. This digital agency was able to prevail over some of the big strategy players. Why? Because it was the offering comprehensible, authentic and with a real added value in the project approach and the form of cooperation. This has inspired corresponding confidence in the customer.

Susanne Mathony: Are you alluding to the WGMB’s “Management Consulting” study? Here, the topic ‘general reputation’ holds the final lantern in the ranking. The top 3, on the other hand, are analytical skills, implementation skills and specialist knowledge. Of course, a company is first and foremost interested in whether its consultant is adept at solving a problem.

However, at the latest when two providers can do the same thing, awareness, perception and concrete competence attribution become decisive. This is where brand differentiation comes into play – as well as its aggressive communication. And this is perhaps still sometimes underestimated by some professional services players.

Those who set up their marketing along their brand core and a clear positioning goal clearly only have advantages. Those who are positioned in a clean – and i.e. never metoo – differentiated way can charge their brand authentically and emotionally. The communication and marketing strategy can be derived from this in a wonderfully stringent manner, whether through classic CEO positioning in the leading media or storytelling on LinkedIn for corporate influencers.

Let’s talk on the phone on how to raise your profile. Strategic brand positioning for Professional Services is my USP due to a two decades careers at brands like Accenture, AlixPartners, Booz & Comany, as well as Russell Reynolds Associates!

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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