4 Misconceptions Funeral Pros Have That Are Killing Their Business


Alright… we’ve got a confession to make. This article isn’t about funeral trends, Baby Boomers, cremation vs. burial, or any of the other funeral misconceptions that we regularly debunk here on the funeralOne blog. Today we’re talking about a topic that is much more controversial in the funeral profession … digital marketing.

BUT WAIT!  Before you click off this article, dismiss the topic all together, or write us off for even suggesting the idea, let us explain…

There are a lot of misconceptions out there in the funeral profession about what digital marketing is and why it’s something that funeral directors should care about. In fact, just a few weeks ago, we posted an article about 5 Traditions That Funeral Directors Should Let Go Of, and we got a lot of backlash for suggesting digital marketing as a necessary supplement to traditional marketing methods. Here are just a few comments that we received:

“Making us into gimmicks with marketing campaigns is a fool’s errand.”

“Every funeral home I serve … [they’re] fully reliant on word of mouth advertising, wasting zero dollars on marketing schemes.

Now, we’re not writing off traditional marketing all together. As we mentioned in the article, word-of-mouth marketing and newspaper advertising methods can be successful for small businesses who are looking to spread the word about their services… but it shouldn’t be the only marketing methods that your funeral home uses (especially in this day and age). That’s where digital marketing comes in.

Digital marketing (or online marketing) is a great way for businesses — big and small — to connect with their audience, build up relationships, learn more about their needs and, yes, even educate them on the value of their services. But just because something can help bring in revenue or advertise your business doesn’t mean that it’s a “gimmick,” “scam” or a “scheme.” It just means that small, local businesses (like funeral homes) now have the tools to reach their families in a way that was only available to big budget businesses in the past.

To help you see the truth for yourself, here are four of the most common misconceptions that we have heard from funeral professionals about digital marketing:

1. “Online marketing is a scam.”

Okay, we understand where the root of this concern is coming from… there are a lot of bait-and-switch and grimey tricks out there in the digital world where people promise or advertise something, and then the next thing you know you’ve downloaded a computer virus or you’ve been added to an email spam list. But one thing is important to know about these kinds of tactics – this is not digital marketing.

Online or digital marketing is a marketing method that everyone from Fortune 500 companies to local small-town businesses use to help put the name of their business in front of the eyes of their audience or local community. A successful online marketing campaign should do three things:

  1. Spark the interest of your audience through a specific piece of content. (For example, a social media update, a blog post, a newsletter, or even an email.)
  2. Create need, interest or curiosity in your audience through the content that they are reading. (This could be as simple as listing all of the reasons why a person should pre-plan their funeral on your blog.)
  3. Fulfill the needs of your audience through a related product or service that you offer. (Include a phone number that families can call to learn more about your pre-planning services.)

As you can see from the steps above, with online marketing, funeral homes are addressing and satisfying their customer’s needs. Families are attracted by a piece of content, and that content helped to fulfill a need that they had. No scams, no bait-and-switch. Just a satisfied, educated customer.

2. “My families aren’t online.”

We’ve got some news for you: these days, everyone is online… even Baby Boomers. In fact, more than a quarter of all people over the age of 55 now use social media in order to communicate with brands and businesses online. So your families aren’t just online, but they’re using sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn about the services your funeral home offers and decide whether they should contact you over a competitor.

This is why digital marketing is so valuable… especially for funeral homes who don’t have the budget to invest in huge advertising campaigns. Not only is it free to create business profiles on the majority of social media sites, but having a Facebook, Twitter or Google + presence can actually help introduce your funeral home to new families. This is because your profile on these sites will appear in search engines when families search for funeral services in your town, or search your funeral home name. So considering the fact that the phrase “funeral home” is being searched more than 7.5 million times per month on Google, this is a digital marketing advantage you can’t afford to ignore.

Want to learn more about how you can become a social media rockstar on your families’ favorite apps? Read this → 4 Powerful Social Media Apps Your Funeral Home Isn’t Using (But Your Families Are)

3. “Online marketing is too expensive.”

It’s true that paying to promote your funeral home through online marketing can help you reach your full marketing potential. But there’s no reason that you have to invest thousands of dollars a month in Facebook promotions and Google Ads in order to see results. In fact, some of the most powerful (and most attractive to families) online marketing methods are completely free.

Here are just a few ways that you can promote your funeral home online without spending a dime:

  •  Create a blog on your funeral home website that educates families on the value of different funeral services
  • Share relevant, interesting articles with your followers on social media
  • Upload behind-the-scenes photos and videos of your funeral home on Instagram or YouTube – just remember to be respectful of the privacy of the families you serve and keep your images staff-focused
  • Release a press release every time your funeral home introduces a new product or holds an event
  •  Claim your Google + Business Profile so that your families can discover your funeral home more easily when searching online
  • Leave helpful, valuable comments on funeral-related blogs and social media posts

Each of the online marketing methods above are completely free for your funeral home to do, and go a long way towards helping to establish your firm as the go-to resource in town for everything funerals.

4. “It’s not appropriate to share things like obituaries on Facebook.”

Despite the fact that most of the world now has profiles on sites like Twitter and Facebook, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of sharing their personal life online… and that is perfectly fine. Every person has their own comfort zone about sharing personal information on the internet, and it’s up to each individual to decide what is and isn’t appropriate for themselves and the family member they are honoring.

However, just as there are many people who may not wish to share personal information online, there are just as many who value the support and sharing that comes with getting personal on social media. In the case of funerals, many families are grateful for the opportunity to share their loved one’s service information online. Not only does it help to get the word out about funeral services quickly, but it also creates a social space where people can gather, share stories and memories, upload photos, and remember their loved one. Your funeral home can even take this one step further for your families by creating a Social Memorial Page on your website that becomes an all-in-one remembrance space for friends and families (who can then easily share it online).

To learn more about how your funeral home can embrace Social Memorial Pages and Obituary Sharing to better serve today’s families, click here to talk to one of our funeral success specialists.

Do you have any other misconceptions about digital marketing? Be sure to leave any questions you have in the comments below and we will be sure to answer them!

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  1. Lynne Johnson

    I don’t like it. It is way before it’s time. You are at least a generation too early. Most prefer tradition, comfort from directors they’ve known and trusted and cared for forever. Most are also offended at “advertisement” for something that is a difficult transition at best and an emotional meltdown at worst. Maybe your generation will enjoy letting this part of life to become “just another digital task on the TO DO list of life”. We are not ready. Perhaps your heart is in the right place – I’m not even sure about that. But, for sure your head is not.
    Have a happy day and stop trying to fix things that are not broken.
    Lynne Johnson

  2. Todd Haley

    Maybe it is a little before it’s time but better to be ahead of the game. How much will it cost to come up on organic searches after the competition has been doing it for years? I have had these conversation with the owners over and over again and I always hear exactly what is in this article. The one thing I would add is who is making the plans for the loved ones who have passed away? 40 year olds? 30 year olds? They definitely do research online before making a decision.

  3. Bastian König

    Lynne Johnson – you are completely right.
    A funeral home should be professional and discrete. So that means I privately would never trust a funeral director who posts my or my families personal data online.
    It is still a thing of the family to tell someone about the burial – or even not to tell.
    What funeral homes should do is a good and professional online info about their services.

  4. Patrick Mahoney

    I originally thought these comments were being sarcastic. It’s amazing to me how many funeral homes are stuck in the past. We have worked on our digital marketing presence for many years and are now reading the rewards. Fellow funeral directors keep it up, we are eating your lunch while you are still deciding where to eat.