Has Funeral Home Marketing Lost Its Way?

Without hesitation, the answer to that question is yes.

The truth is, some funeral home marketing has gotten so bad that if you search for “worst funeral advertisement,” you’re going to get 2.6 MILLION results (and I must say, some of the results are quite interesting to say the least)!




Even if you ask people in our own profession, sadly, they feel the same way:




So the question is, what constitutes bad funeral home marketing and why is it happening? In this post, we’re going to find out!


A Few Examples of Bad Funeral Home Marketing

But first, let’s make sure your funeral home isn’t guilty… let’s check out some examples of bad funeral home marketing to find out!

Example #1: Offensive Print Advertising

Just about every funeral home out there uses some form of print advertising – whether it be business cards, brochures, postcards, newspaper ads, or billboard ads.

And you’d think by dealing with grieving families on a daily basis that all funeral professionals would understand the importance of advertising their services in a tasteful way… but as you can see in the image below, that’s not always the case!

bad funeral home advertising

This is a subway billboard advertisement in New York City.

This funeral home advertisement located in a subway has been making the rounds on the internet. While it might have seemed a bit amusing to the marketing team behind this, it is completely insensitive to the consumer. It’s especially controversial because there have been hundreds of suicides involving people jumping onto the subway tracks in New York City alone.

And trust me, with 2.6 million search results for the “worst funeral advertisement,” there are plenty of other outrageous funeral home advertisements out there.


Example #2: Blackhat SEO Tricks

With 7.5 million searches for “funeral homes” every month on Google, we all know how important it is to get found online. When you’re trying to increase your funeral home website’s rankings in search results, it’s tempting to buy those inexpensive SEO packages that promise you lots of backlinks (a link to your website from another website) for less. But what you will end up getting is something like this:


Here is an example of blackhat backlinking, which involves putting a link to your website on high-ranking blogs to get an SEO boost... a big no-no!

Here is an example of blackhat backlinking, which involves putting a link to your website on high-ranking blogs to get an SEO boost… a big no-no!


Above is an example of one blackhat (ie., against Google guidelines) link building strategy known as “comment spamming” that appears frequently in our blog’s comments. Not only will you frustrate our social media manager by doing this, but you’ll also make your firm look spammy and untrustworthy.

Trust me, these black hat SEO tricks aren’t worth the risk – they’ll lower your firm’s ranking on Google – or even worse, they could get you banned from Google all together!


Example #3: Crappy Funeral Home Websites

Crappy funeral home website


Way too many funeral homes out there focus their websites on themselves, not what they can do for families. The problem with focusing your website on you, your funeral home, and your staff is that it isn’t giving families what they want, which is information on your services, prices, etc.

I know this goes against the grain – you’ve built a company, and you’re proud of it. But you’ve got to stop and think about it for a minute. Sure you should let them know your firm is experienced, reliable and trustworthy. But first, you must let them know you can solve their problems

You know your families and community better than anyone else – you know their problems, questions and pain points – so make sure your website is a helpful resource through educational content.

Your website should answer questions people have about service options, pre-planning, personalization, pricing, the arrangement process, ways to honor life, etc. In the end, it’s all about giving your families more of what they want – or they will go somewhere else. That’s a given.


Example #4: Boring Social Media Updates

Funeral homes (along with many other small businesses) are making plenty of mistakes on social media these days. But one of the biggest mistakes in terms of hindering fan growth and engagement is posting things your audience isn’t interested in.

Here is an example of a Facebook page that only posts obituaries for their status updates:



While it’s great to show your community that you care about each individual loved one you serve, you need to post more than just that. Social media content is meant to encourage likes, shares, and comments. A page full of obituaries will not invite these types of engagement.


Why is Funeral Home Marketing So Bad?

Now that we’ve taken a look at some funeral home marketing mistakes, let’s consider the reasons why these mistakes happen. Here are the common excuses we hear from funeral home owners, and how we can combat them.

Excuse #1: I don’t have the time.

We know, your schedule is busy. You’re taking calls all day, everyday. Between arrangement meetings, services, removals (and many other tasks), there just isn’t enough time in the day. Don’t worry, you’re not alone on this one.

How to combat this: The good news is that there are plenty of resources to help you. First, choose a local reputable ad agency to help you with print advertising and media placements. Next, find someone to put in charge of your social media (whether it be your secretary, funeral directors or a mortuary school intern). Finally, hire a website development company to get a tasteful,  professional website up and running for you. These key finds will take the guesswork out of your marketing so you can focus on what counts.


Excuse #2: I don’t have the money.

It’s no secret that funeral homes everywhere are seeing their revenues decline. And sometimes it’s impossible to think that it’s worth it to spend your precious money on marketing (we’ll cover this in a later point).

While not all forms of marketing are cheap, inbound marketing presents a great opportunity if your marketing budget is limited. In fact, research shows that the average cost of a lead is only $15!




How to combat this: If you have to choose, invest in inbound marketing channels like social media, your website, and blogging rather than traditional advertising. Inbound marketing is cheaper (on average), usually takes less time, and is easier for you to track your ROI.  If you don’t have the time, take the budget you would have spent on one area of marketing and spend it on someone to handle your inbound marketing for you.


Excuse #3: I’m advertising something people don’t want to learn about.

It’s true. Most people do not want to think about planning a funeral. But the fact is, they eventually have to. If not for themselves, then for their loved ones. It’s your goal to convince people that this is something that is both valuable and isn’t a grueling task.

Also, remember that your focus doesn’t have to always be on funeral planning. You can market your funeral home as a resource for family members who are taking care of the elderly or the sick. Your funeral home can be the place grieving families turn to for counsel. You can be a source of inspiration for those who are sad.

How to combat this: Instead of simply trying to get families to plan a funeral with you, sell them on the “why” of funeral service – or the true benefits for your families. Lajos Szabo covers this subject in his article “What Funeral Service Is Really Selling: A Lesson From HGTV”. After reading that article, I guarantee you’ll have some inspiration for putting life into your funeral home’s marketing!


Excuse #4: I don’t want to offend my families.

Your reputation is paramount, and you don’t want to risk it by doing something that could offend a grieving family. That is completely understandable. So how do you avoid this?

How to combat this: Put yourself into their shoes. Research what your families want to know from you. For each message you plan to post on your marketing materials or online presences, ask yourself, “If I were grieving the loss of a loved one, how would I feel about reading this?” If you do these things, you shouldn’t offend anyone.

Of course, you have to also realize that every individual is different, and the things that might not offend thousands still might offend that one person. If you do offend someone, it’s not the end of the world. The best thing you can do in the eyes of the public is sincerely apologize. That will go a long way in boosting your reputation within your community.


Excuse #5: There is no ROI in marketing.

This can’t be further for the truth. There is plenty of ROI in marketing, especially inbound marketing. In fact, inbound marketing leads cost 61% less than traditional outbound marketing leads! But, usually the problem isn’t the ROI of marketing… it’s measuring your ROI from marketing. Without the right analytics tools, this can be hard to do.

How to combat this: Use analytics tools like KISSMetrics or Google Analytics. Not only will they help you track how your marketing is doing, but you can figure out the ROI for something as granular as a Facebook status or tweet!




Final thoughts

No matter how much time or money you decide to invest in marketing, just make sure to DO IT RIGHT!

A wise man once said “”If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” and this is especially true for your funeral home’s marketing.

Maybe once funeral service starts putting more effort into the quality of our marketing and advertising, we’ll stop scaring families away and start being understood and valued.

PS. Want to amp up your funeral home’s marketing? Get a free demo of our all-in-one website platform, f1Connect by clicking here!


What do you think, has funeral home marketing lost it’s way? How can we fix it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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