5 Ways To Help Your Families See The Value In FuneralsJune 22nd, 2016
I remember the first time I attended a funeral like it was yesterday.
It was my grandfather’s service, and I cherished him like he was my father. I was only 13 years old, and as an aspiring writer, I asked to give the eulogy for his ceremony. Although it was just a small ceremony, and he was being cremated, I’ll never forget the power that I felt in the words I said about his life. The connection I felt to him, standing there, next to his remains, felt like I was honoring him in the highest way possible. I shared what made my grandfather’s time on this Earth precious and unique, and I can still hear those words – the stories and memories – echoing in my head. Had I missed the chance to share these words, and to release them into the world, I don’t know that my heart would be healed in the way it is now.
Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, there’s been a “devaluing” of funerals and the traditions that surround them. Now, loved ones just want to be “cremated and put in a Folgers can” with no service. But why? Have we forgotten how important life is, and not to mention death? Have we forgotten the importance and fulfillment of cultural traditions? Have we just decided to let life pass by and not take a moment to stop and remember, and grieve?
I’ve had enough of the dark and harsh attitude towards funerals. It’s time to reclaim the funeral profession’s importance and value in families’ lives. That’s going to take some work, though. We can’t do things the way they’ve always been done. So what do we do?
Here are 5 tips for reclaiming your value – and making your families love the idea of funerals again:
1) Show families YOUR value, not just the value of a funeral
The most valuable aspect of a funeral, hands down, is the support offered to the family by a funeral director. After all, a funeral director is just about the only human a grieving person can count on to hold space for them during their grief journey. While everyone else around them is also mourning, and trying to “fix” things and turn them into butterflies and rainbows, a funeral director knows better. A funeral director knows that denial of grief isn’t healthy, and that it is incredibly necessary to face the anxiety, the anger, the sadness, and everything else that comes along with the grieving of a loved one. That’s why your role is to strategically and tactfully put together a ceremony that allows your families to face the reality of the death, the harshness of grief, all the while celebrating a life in a meaningful way. No one else in this world can do what funeral directors do, and it’s time to prove that value to families.
So how do you? That leads us to our next tip…
2) Use emotion-driven marketing to convey your value
One of the most famous advertising campaigns of all time is Apple’s “Think Different” promotions. Instead of simply asking consumers to “think” about the decisions that they were making (like their competitor, IBM, was doing), they challenged people to think different by appealing to them emotionally. They created a commercial that personally called out to their audience (“ Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes”) and connected with their consumers on a one-on-one level. This is why their campaign became one of the famous and memorable marketing efforts of all time.
Instead of emphasizing your competitive edge, low prices or convenient cremation center, try changing up your marketing and focus on the emotional aspects of a funeral. After all, your value does lie in the emotional support you offer, so why not focus your marketing on it?
Plenty of companies use this type of emotional messaging – think Nike, Airbnb, Chevy, and Google. Remember all the times you saw commercials that gave you goosebumps, and try and create that feeling yourself in your marketing. Start with that feeling, and how you’d like to convey it, and let the marketing ideas flow. Not only will you appeal to people more, but you’ll show your competitors that you don’t have to outwit or outprice each other for better business.
Need some inspiration? Check out this ad by Google:
3) Focus on the future, don’t get stuck in the past
If there’s one industry that’s more afraid than any other of change, it’s the funeral profession. Maybe because it’s such a delicate profession to change. But have you noticed the businesses who have been more focused on change (rather than avoiding it) have catapulted past everyone else?
Think about when cremation first popped up in our profession. Many funeral professionals rejected the idea out of hand because they were never convinced that families would want something that went against the tradition that they had always known and loved. What could be more important or valuable than saying goodbye to your loved one at an open casket funeral, or the sacred act of lowering the casket and giving a final farewell? Well, for many people, the opportunity to keep their loved one close to them in an urn, or to scatter their ashes in a meaningful place offered more value than a traditional funeral ever could.
Right now the Baby Boomers are front and center, and of course we want to focus on their needs, but what ideas that are surfacing now will stick with Gen X, Y and Millennials – the children of Baby Boomers? Instead of diving in frantically to whatever trends have surfaced, be picky and choose the timeless ones. Think about the future of the funeral profession, and choose wisely.
4) Change your channel, change your perspective
No, not your TV channel. Your marketing channels. Have you always put ads in your local newspaper, but never tried Facebook or Instagram promotions? Is a current marketing effort not helping you prove your value to families? There are SO many ways to effectively market your funeral home. If one isn’t working, why not try something new, or a new strategy all together? Dare yourself to try something new, and soon.
It’s easy to become stagnant, and when you do, it shows in your marketing. Chances are, when you try a new marketing channel, you’ll come up with new, fresh ideas as well. Think about how you’d like to find information on planning a funeral. Most likely it wouldn’t be on a billboard, or in a phonebook, but something that’s more interactive, and more convenient for you. What about videos? An interactive planning guide? What does value look like to you – and to your families? Figure it out by trying something new, and don’t forget to test, test, test! Testing is key – to make sure that whatever you’re trying is worth the effort.
5) Treat your website like your storefront
For the most part, your funeral home website is like the storefront of your funeral home. When families are searching for local options for their funeral needs, your homepage is often the first impression they have of your funeral home, and the feeling that they are left with may very well decide whether or not they choose you over another local provider.
So if your website is your storefront, are you proud of the impression it makes on your families? If you’re not sure, look at your website with a “beginner’s mind” – as if you’ve never seen it before. Does it communicate your value? Does it show families that your funeral home can help them celebrate the life of their loved one in a meaningful way? Does it give them a glimpse of what separates you from the competition? If not, it’s time to consider changing your website. Every aspect of your website – the content, the design, the layout – should communicate to families why you’re unique and what value you provide to them.
Take O’Connor Mortuary below, for example. The first thing you see when you land on their website is a statement that proves their value and offers families an opportunity for education. It is not bogged down by an endless list of obituaries or outdated design. Every element invites you to take off your shoes and stay awhile. If your website doesn’t inspire visitors to do that, it’s time for change.
When it’s all said done, the question isn’t whether or not funerals are valuable, it’s whether or not you prove their value. Families can connect with the idea of celebrating the life of their loved one, they’re just waiting on us to show up in a way that means something to them.
So do the work. Take the risk. Trust us, it’s worth it.
And while you’re at it, why not dive right into to the hardest part… your website! We’ll take a look at your website, and show you where your opportunities lie, and create a new website that’s guaranteed to build your business. The best part? We’ll do all the work for you. Take the first step here or give us a call at 1-800-798-2575.