What Does The Perfect Funeral Home Advertisement Look Like?September 17th, 2013
OK, someone needs to say it… most funeral home advertising sucks!
Phew, glad I got that out.
But seriously, funeral homes have a (well deserved) poor reputation when it comes to promoting their business. Whether its creating a bad advertisement that’s boring and depressing, or skipping out on marketing and advertising altogether, some funeral homes are making some really bad marketing decisions.
But, in my eyes, that’s all ancient history – so the question is, how do we move on?
Today, I’m going to take you on a journey to help you create the perfect funeral home advertisement, looking at some successful advertising examples from other industries. By the end of this blog, you will be able to identify where you’re going wrong with your advertising so you can start creating ads for your funeral home that you can actually be proud of.
Before you begin…
Before you even put your pen to paper, it’s important that you think about the overarching idea for your ad or marketing campaign. Here’s how you can do that:
1. Get to know your audience by creating personas for them. This involves doing research and interviewing your target audience to find out their pain points, goals, background info, and demographic info. You can read more about creating buyer personas here, and use this template from Hubspot to create your own.
2. Figure out your goals. Whether you’re creating a full out marketing campaign, or a single page ad in a magazine, you’ve got to understand your goals. More often than not, the goal for your campaign or ad will be used as your call-to-action for the ad (we’ll get to this later).
3. Find the essence of your ad. Once you understand your audience and your goals, it’s time to start thinking about how every element of your ad – the images, and the copy- will tie together. You’ll want to answer questions like:
– What feelings do we want to communicate in this ad?
– What information/key messages need to be included?
– Describe (as best you can) the look and feel you’d like to achieve in this ad. Will it be bright and inspiring? Thoughtful? A story of a family’s experience? Get specific!
– How much content do you want on the ad? Create a “wire” or sketch of the ad you’re imagining. Sketch out where you envision your headline, sub headline, images and logo.
– What assets do you already have that can be used in this ad? What assets do you still need?
– How will the image and copy work together? This is important to think about, since images are a great way to stress points in your copy.
Ok, now that we’ve got an idea who you’re creating your ad for, why you’re creating it, and a general idea of what it will look and feel like, lets dive into the most important aspect of your ad… the copy!
How to Rock Your Ad Copy
“Copy” is marketing speak for the words in your ad – and it’s one of the most influential elements of any advertisement, whether it’s for the latest tech gadget or for your funeral home. Your words are a key sales tool. Here are four rules that the best brands use to sell their products and services effectively:
1. Keep it simple
Rule number one is to keep ad copy simple. Take a look at this ad for a literacy campaign in France:
See how it uses minimal copy, short sentences (even broken sentences) to make its point? This makes the ad more readable and memorable. It’s a technique that Apple uses very well, like in this ad for the iPhone 5:
The thing Apple does best (especially here) isn’t what they write, it’s what they don’t write. Instead of overwhelming you with features and information about the product, they leave drooling at the edge of your seat, wanting to learn more about this new iPhone. While you might not want to go that far for your funeral home, using simple copy so people understand what you offer is a great way to start.
2. Make it conversational
When client families come to you, they’re already experiencing one of the toughest moments of their lives. The last thing they need is a “corporate” sounding ad – that doesn’t bring comfort (and that’s what they need most). If you want to form a connection with people, be… human. Make your language conversational and readable to build trust. John Caples calls this type of copy “You and Me”. Here’s what he says about it:
“The language here would be no different than a salesman sitting down for lunch with a customer and talking through a sales presentation. It’s a straightforward approach that tries to identify with the reader.”
Since you know the conversations you typically have with client families, you’re ahead of the game in writing this type of ad copy. Here’s a good example from copywriting rockstars, Gymit.
See how it addresses the reader directly and speaks to their real behaviors? I also love that they add a little humor into the copy too – again, making them seem more human.
For more help with writing conversational copy, check out this Copyblogger article to help you to get the language right.
3. Tell a story
If there’s one thing funeral directors have a plethora of, it’s good stories. But are you using those stories to advertise your business? We’re not talking about a dry-as-dust website or ad copy, but good copy that brings your business to life, using real human experiences. Storytelling is as old as time and really works for marketing your business. After all, we’ve been conditioned to listen to and read stories since childhood.
How could this work in your funeral home? Perhaps you can get testimonial stories from families who were blown away by your services, and use their story and experience to market your firm. Or maybe there’s a story about your future direction. Whatever type of story you decide to write, make sure you commit to it and insert passion and emotions into it.
Here’s a good example of a story from Leica, a camera company – it was voted one of the best ads of 2012-2013:
The story begins by saying:
“In my past life, I was a Leica. But not just any Leica. I was the Leica III that was in the hands of one of the bravest photographers this world has ever seen. Together, we faced the heat of many wars… “
While it breaks rule number one (keeping it simple), it’s still fascinating because it takes you back in time to help you understand the true value of Leica cameras, and their role in history. A story similar to this one might be perfect for your funeral home to tell.
4. Focus on the headline
While the main ad copy itself is important, the most important part of your copy is the headline. As David Ogilvy points out in this Kissmetrics blog, “Headlines are as close to a magic bullet as you’re going to get, and if you’re going to be perfect in only once place, do it here. “ Your headline is the part of your ad that most people are going to read, so you have to get it right.
Even a simple headline can tell a story and list benefits, but mostly make people want to read on. Here’s a great example for Volkswagen’s 60th anniversary – the headline grabs attention and tells a story about the durability of the product:
Want to grab attention the way Volkswagen did in this headline? Here are some ways you can come up with great headlines:
– Keep a folder or file of the headlines from other ads that grab your attention.
– Add headlines from your firm’s most successful ads to that file.
– Focus on the one key point you want to make, just as reporters do when writing the news.
Perfect these four tips and you will be well on the way to appealing ad copy. Now it’s time to fix the next aspect of the equation – the images in your ad.
Images – Mistakes to Avoid
These days, using images in your ad is a “must do”. But despite the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words, did you know that images can actually drive people away?
This article looks at the principles David Ogilvy, one of the very first (and most famous) advertising geniuses, discovered about image use in ads. He found that you need to place the image in the right place and use captions to be successful. Sadly, most funeral home advertisements don’t manage to do this.
Here are some other errors to avoid when it comes to images:
– Don’t use stock photography because quite frankly, most of the time it’s terrible. Not only are you paying for cheesy looking photos, but you’re using photos that aren’t tailored to your funeral home specifically. If you’re going to use stock photography, be picky. Otherwise, try taking it to the next level and hiring a professional photographer to shoot some images at your funeral home.
– Using images that are outdated immediately tells potential client families that you’re not keeping up with the times and probably won’t meet their needs. Even worse, using the wrong image can be insensitive and in poor taste (such as these ads for a 9/11 movie right near the Twin Towers).
– Unless you’re writing the copy for your about page on your website or introducing your funeral home, avoid using pictures of yourself or your staff. You want your client families to see themselves in the situation you are portraying in your ads. That’s why it’s good to keep yourself out of the picture – it could be distracting.
– Just as bad as the wrong image is a poorly edited image. If you’re doing your own editing, make sure you avoid these Photoshop mistakes and other editing errors (like the one below). Making these mistakes ruins your credibility and makes you look incredibly unprofessional to client families.
So if that’s how you do it wrong, how do you do it right? The best ads feature simple, clear images that tell a story (yes, pictures can tell your funeral home’s story too).
Here are a few examples of great image use in advertising for you inspiration:
1) Land Rover
Land Rover uses powerful imagery in this award-winning campaign to illustrate the adventurous side of their brand, showing they’re not afraid to try just about anything from every far corner of the Earth.
Or check out this picture of a Duracell battery (brand recognition) showing the positives and negatives (play on the product) of battery power. And if you notice, there aren’t many words, complying with rule number 1 of good ad copy.
3) Kirk and Nice Suburban Chapel
Even more relevant to funeral homes, check out this funeral home ad with positive images and clear calls-to-actions. We also love this ad because it states the benefits of this firm’s services for the reader in an engaging way.
4) Nishinihon Tenrei Funeral Parlor
This ad from Japan was dubbed the world’s “loveliest advertisement for death”. Not a dark, drab color in sight. The inspiration for this ad came from the creative director’s own experience with death, where he was “left with profound feelings”. “If the funeral is an occasion to show your gratitude to those you are leaving behind, you’d want it to be colorful and festive,” he explains.
Where Should You Advertise Your Funeral Home?
Once you have your headline, body copy and image sorted out, then the next thing to consider is the best place to advertise your funeral home. Your choices are print, broadcast, online and social – or your own funeral home website.
Here’s how they stack up:
1) Print advertising and billboards set up a one-way communication with your client families, and that’s not the most ideal way to market your firm. Print may not be dead, but if declining ad revenues are anything to go by, it’s dying, so don’t waste a lot your advertising dollars there.
2) Radio and TV ads, in my opinion, are also a waste of money for funeral homes. Who’s going to remember your radio ad when they need your services two years from now? Unless you are advertising an event at your funeral home, which you might be if you make it available to the community, then forget broadcast advertising.
3) Social ads are a better bet because people can respond to them, and you can get a clearer idea of whether the people you want to attract have seen your ad. Social ads, especially on Facebook, where you have a potential audience in the hundreds of thousands, are very targeted, making them a good bet for your funeral home. Of course, it’s still difficult to be clear about ROI in this still evolving medium, as a study on the Marketo blog found out. But, still do consider this form when it comes to spending your ad dollars.
4) PPC and Online Ads – Digital ad revenue is growing and that means pay-per-click ads (PPC) could be a good ad choice for your firm. PPC basically means that if someone likes your ad enough to click on it, you pay for that click. Examples of these are the contextual ads you see on websites, next to your Google search results, or in your inbox if you’re using Gmail. They show up when someone is already looking for a related topic, increasing the chances that they will click on your site. For example, if someone is looking for funeral services and your PPC ad pops up, that could bring you business.
5) Your website is the best marketing tool of all. As one Unbounce article points out, this is a space that you control, that boosts your authority and allows you to tell your story your way. Since potential families expect you to have a professional online presence and will be searching your site for relevant information, don’t leave this out of the advertising mix.
Additional Tips on Funeral Home Advertising
Finally, don’t forget to pay attention to these other advertising rules to help your funeral home ad stand out even more:
1) Make sure that you use bright colors that inspire happiness and complement your images and words in your ads– take a look at this study of what colors do to get some ideas. As you can see from the image below, incorporating colors like yellow, blue or green might be helpful in conveying the message you want to get across in your advertising.
2) When creating ads, make sure that they’re consistent with your funeral home’s branding. By matching the look and feel of your ad to your website, visitors will feel a sense of trust towards your ad and be more inclined to pay attention to it.
3) Include a call to action in your copy so that readers know what action you want them to take.
Now go forth and create the perfect ad!
I know it’s a lot to take it in, but you can do it! Start with an eye-catching image, a great headline and a few words, and in no time you’ll be increasing your revenue thanks to your advertising efforts. Here’s a little more inspiration to help get you started.
Finally, if you’re looking for a way to attract and engage families like never before, get a free demo of our effortless, all-in-one website platform, f1Connect by clicking here or calling 800-798-2575, ext. 5!