What the Funeral Profession Can Learn From Steve Jobs


Today marks the 6 month anniversary of the death of legendary innovator and entrepreneur Steve Jobs. Jobs, who was best known for his achievements as co-founder and CEO of Apple, is considered the most influential inventor of our time.

But Jobs’ success wasn’t only in his ability to engineer and design quality products—it was in his ability to think differently, embrace change and to never stop improving.

Although you may not realize it, Jobs’ influences and innovations impact the lives of every one of us on a daily basis—even in the funeral profession.

There’s a lot that the funeral profession can learn from Steve Jobs. Let’s take a look at some of his methodologies and see how your funeral firm can put them into practice!

When Times Are Tough…Do Things Differently.

In 1997, Steve Jobs made the following statement:

“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”

We’ve all been faced with tough economic times, and the common reaction among firms both large and small is to cut costs. Jobs had another plan—to invest in new, innovative ideas. For example, when Apple was teetering on bankruptcy, instead of playing it safe and coming out with a traditional computer with a monitor and boxy beige tower, Jobs built the iMac—an all-in-one bubbly shaped computer that came in 5 bright colors. Although a risky option, within two years, Apple’s finances had recovered.

As a funeral professional, you can adopt this methodology by thinking outside-of-the-box and considering how you might differentiate your firm from the competition. Bring innovation to the funeral profession by offering your families unique products and services they won’t find elsewhere.

Technology Isn’t Just For Youth.

Steve Jobs died as the most influential innovator of the 21st Century—he was 56-years-old. Although a brilliant man, his goal wasn’t to build complicated products that only the youth or the most tech-savvy could appreciate. He tried to make technology more human—and he succeeded.

It’s easy to get caught up in the traditional way of doing things. But as technology evolved, so did your families. Statistics from Pew Research show 88% of adults ages 30-49 used the Internet in 2011, and 79% of adults ages 50-64 were online. Your families are researching funeral service providers on the web more than ever before. In fact, the phrase “funeral home” is searched over 4 million times per month – on Google alone. It’s time to embrace technology and start focusing your funeral marketing efforts on building a strong online presence.

Embrace An Opportunity When An Opportunity Is Presented.

A successful business owner is always looking for their next big opportunity, and Steve Jobs did just that. From computers, to mobile media players and telephones, Jobs embraced opportunities across various industries if he saw the potential in them.

As a funeral professional, you’re not only a funeral service provider, you’re responsible for providing your families and the community with services that can help them through the one of the most difficult times in their lives. By embracing eCommerce as an opportunity with an online sympathy store on your website, you are tapping into your communities’ desire to support the emotional needs of your families with sympathy gifts and flowers. The demand is there, the opportunity is presented—all you have to do is embrace it.

Empathize With The Needs Of Your Families.

The Apple Marketing Philosophy stressed the notion that Apple should empathize with the needs of the consumer. Jobs’ was known by many as the consumer’s advocate—demanding that all Apple devices be built as user-friendly as possible.

It can be easy to forget how difficult it is for your families coping with death to plan a funeral service for the first time. Put yourself in their shoes and empathize with their needs. With all the questions running through their heads, it’s likely the Internet is the first place they will go to find information regarding next steps. Make sure your website is easy for them to find and answers all their questions. Be sure to explain all the different service offerings and use images and videos to show your families how they can celebrate the life of their loved one in a unique and personalized way.

There’s Always Room For Improvement.

No matter how successful he got, Steve Jobs never stopped innovating or improving on the technology and services he created.

You may think you know everything there is to know about the funeral profession, and that you offer your families the best level of care of all your competitors; but the truth is there is always room for improvement. The second you become complacent and start believing you have nothing more to learn, is the second one of your competitors will improve upon the services they currently offer and gain the competitive advantage. Never stop listening to the needs of your families and your community, and start opening yourself up to the idea of learning from the competition.


There’s a lot we can all learn from a visionary like Steve Jobs. In his short 56 years of life, he transformed the way the world communicates, interacts and shares with one another. By choosing to think differently and embrace innovation and change, your funeral firm has the ability to impact the way your families and the community cope with death and celebrate life.

What have you learned from Steve Jobs? Did any of these methodologies inspire you enough to put them into practice at your own funeral firm? Please share your comments below! 🙂

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  1. Kim Stacey

    Very, very good post, Kelly. Thought provoking. Inspiring. I think the biggest lesson Steve taught me is “There’s always room for improvement.” In ourselves, our businesses, and in our relationships. Thank for the reminder! 

  2. Anonymous

     Absolutely Kim! We all need a reminder of this every once in a while 🙂

  3. Dave Waggoner

    Kelly, This article is spot on. There is alot of talk in this industry about change, but action is slow in coming. Tomorrow’s leaders will embrace change, today.

  4. Anonymous

     Thanks Dave, I agree! A lot of people are scared of change, but with change comes opportunity, and I believe those who are most agile and adaptable will succeed!

  5. Kim Stacey

    Hey, Dave – give us a “heads-up”! How are you “embracing change, today”? Not to put you on the spot, but often, I see that the dynamics within the funeral home can prevent innovative (change-oriented) thinking of one person being implemented. Are there obstacles to change that you’ve faced, in your business environment? If so, how did you overcome them – or were you able to? 

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