LPL focus11: The Advisor's Guide to Effective Branding

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During a recent visit to Chicago, I had a chance to catch up with Maribeth Kuzmeski, president of Red Zone Marketing, Inc., who is also a well-know author and speaker.  It turns out she was giving multiple presentations at LPL’s national conference and she shared some insight on what she was going to talk about.

A uniqueness worth promoting

When Kuzmeski does speaking engagements she often poles the crowd to see if they believe they have something to promote and most of the attendees say "yes." However she recognizes that only a few are truly unique. 

“They think it might be their four-step investment process,” said Kuzmeski. The problem is that the client does not think it is unique, as they just assume most advisors have the same thing.  Kuzmeski said the confusion is caused by advisors having their heads too close to the business.

Kuzmeski shares an example of a gas station called Buc-ee’s that has figured out how to be unique. They knew that people like bathrooms the least about gas stations, so they fixed them up and hired a person to keep them clean. Through promotion of the feature they have created fans.  Kuzmeski asked, “If a gas station can have rabid fans, can’t an advisor?”

How to get brand fans

Kuzmeski insists that advisors can create sound brands. She shared an example of an advisor that created a half-page ad that ran regularly in a newspaper about giving away a free retirement income book. Through the exposure he became known as the retirement income guy, differentiating himself from other advisors.

Kuzmeski asks, “Do you have a brochure that nobody reads? Or do you have a one-page hand out that is short on words, but strong on power words?”  Do not use lines like ‘We offer peace of mind.’  Instead talk specifically to and about the person.

She says that if an advisor is at a business function and says, "I am a financial advisor" that makes the attendees want to talk to that person less. “It is not compelling,” she said.  She says to use different words and explained that designations care little weight unless they are used like this: "I have my CFP.  Let me tell you why that is important."

Using social media to improve a brand

When it comes to social media, Kuzmeski worked for with John Hancock to create three things to remember:

Know -- Get exposure to through social media.

Like -- Get folks to like what you are all about, before they even talk with you.

Trust -- Get followers, connections and fans to feel comfortable with you.

A few tactical pieces of advice Kuzmeski shares are to create actions, plans, measure results and hire a social media intern to have someone take other messages and get them out in the social media universe.

Most advisors do not have blog, but that is a mistake.  Kuzmeski said, “The reason prospects hire an advisor is because they want to work with the advisor, not because they want to work on the firm. They want to know what you know.”


Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful.  His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas.  Read more at




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