What Funeral Service is Really Selling: A Lesson from HGTVNovember 15th, 2012
I was visiting with a friend the other day and I noticed that she had HGTV on her TV… again.
It seems like this cable channel is on almost all the time. And she wasn’t the first person that I noticed watching this show.
In fact, recent ratings show HGTV ahead of the Food Network, SyFy, the Comedy Channel and CNN! What was the appeal?
After watching several hours of shows on HGTV (fortunately not in one sitting), I realized what was so compelling.
Many of the shows depict ordinary people dramatically transforming their environment in a very, very short period of time. Many people watch those shows and see how they can improve their living situation – either by buying the right home at the right price, or fixing up the one they live in.
Every show on HGTV features the ultimate transformation from before to after for people just like you and I. Or, for the outrageous or extremely expensive homes, we can dream about the possibilities shown to us.
In essence, HGTV is not really selling homes or renovation techniques. What they’re really selling is hope. Hope that someday, somehow, I will be able to dramatically improve not just my living conditions, but my quality of life.
The real marketing question: what are we really selling?
As funeral directors, what do we typically talk about when we market to the families we serve?
If we get past our history, facilities and staff, we are talking about how we will provide grief support during the family’s darkest hours.
We try and make sure our value is grounded in that emotional support, but how appealing is that? When we are not showing pictures of our buildings and staff, we show pictures of simulated services that look very sad. Is that supposed to appeal to families?
People know that we cannot wave a magic service wand and make everything better.
But, we can still sell something to families. That something is hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better, and the next day better still. Hope that they can find a way through this sorrow, to a time when they will be able to smile again.
We never show happy people because in funeral marketing, when people are dealing with us directly, they are very sad.
But why can’t we show what the end results could be… how events themselves can be very uplifting and hopeful?
The video below is a great example of showing both the problem and the solution with much positive imagery along the way:
Ps. I would like to credit Geno Mallo of funeralOne who produced this extraordinary video in three days!
The first time I watched this video, it was through funeral director glasses and I was initially appalled!
Where is their sadness? Where is the grief? How could you show all those happy people, happy events and even happiness during the process? And that’s my point exactly.
If we want to help people with their sadness and grief, we need to connect them to the hope of a better future first. Otherwise, we will not get the chance to serve them.
We need to show them what a hopeful future looks like. We need to show them before-and-afters a la HGTV. We need to show them real people struggling, but somehow, with the help of experts (read funeral director here) they get through to an amazing result.
You can’t make the sadness go away, but you can instill the hope that someday they will laugh again.
We are merchants of hope. It is time we marketed like it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lajos Szabo, a licensed funeral director in Ohio and Architect by training, has been involved in funeral service since 1988. His portfolio of work includes, Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service, PMP Rooms, Cut Caskets, Meaningful Memories, Funeral of the Future research and several US patents specific to our industry.[RR1] Currently, Lajos is the President of Funeral Operations at funeralOne. He uses his industry perspective to provide organizational leadership and develop several key projects in pursuit of his personal mission: changing funeral service to more effectively meet the needs of people touched by death. funeralOne’s solutions include: website design, aftercare, eCommerce, and personalization software. For more information about funeralOne, visit www.funeralOne.com.