I’m going to start this with a story—and I promise to keep it short. Last September, my estranged father died, and his wishes were carried out by a local funeral firm he had designated years earlier. A few days after I heard of his passing, I went to their website to leave a message of condolence for my dad’s wife, using the Book of Memories™ the firm had created as part of their service to her.
It was a sad sight. No one had left a message, had placed a donation, or sent flowers to his widow. His profile image was there, but no one had uploaded any additional pictures of him. I honestly felt no one had ever visited the site but me.
Fortunately, we’ve all also seen the opposite situation; where a Book of Memories™ is an active, engaging, and healing place. With lots of messages of condolence, pictures, and sweet stories to read of times past, a Book of Memories™ can really be a very meaningful testament to ‘a life well-lived’, for years to come.
What Must Happen
Unfortunately, many online tributes (like my father’s) are virtually empty, and have little value to anyone, now or in the future. I think this is simply because families don’t yet fully understand the potential within the many features of their loved one’s Book of Memories™.
Here’s the crux of the matter: if families are to accept (and embrace) online memorialization as a new standard, three things need to happen, and it’s up to funeral directors to lead the way. Families must:
- Realize the Book of Memories™ is available to them
- Learn the actual value of its many features
- Know how to effectively use these features
So, let me ask: are you taking the time to personally introduce your families to their loved one’s Book of Memories™? Here’s another: are you publishing their Book of Memories™ within 24 hours of the arrangement?
These are important questions, as they relate directly to revenue generation. If your firm isn’t realizing a stream of revenue from the Book of Memories™, it’s probably because you don’t consistently:
- Create the Book of Memories™ during the arrangement conference, engaging the families in the process.
- Spend 10-15 minutes to acquaint families with the social media sharing and other features within their loved one’s Book of Memories™.
Surprisingly enough, a lot of funeral directors I’ve spoken to recently don’t take the time to do either. And…guest what? It’s not only hurting their families, it’s hurting them. And we’ve got the numbers to prove it.
Just the Facts
According to the fact-finders here at FrontRunner, you’ve got a 72-hour window of opportunity to maximize the returns from the publication of a Book of Memories™ (both for the emotional health of the family and for your firm’s bottom line). Here’s what they’re telling me, specifically related to floral sales (and really pay attention to that first bullet point):
- Creating a Book of Memories™ within 24 hours of the date of death (a delay of 0 or 1 day) maximizes flower revenue.
- Between 24 and 48 hours, the frequency of orders drops to 77% of that maximum number.
- Waiting 3 or 4 days, the frequency drops to 55% and 47% respectively, and in 5 days it drops to 31%.
- Waiting more than 5 days drops the number of orders to under 10% of what it could be.
Happily, the guys behind the scenes let me know over half (55%) of our clients post the record either on the date of death or ensuing day. But that leaves a whopping 45% who are not maximizing the opportunity for families of the deceased to send flowers (and their firm to earn revenue). For shame!
Involve and Educate Families
Ok. So, now you know: create a Book of Memories™ within the first 24 hours of service to a family. But, is that all you have to do to maximize its value to all concerned? No. There’s one feature you want to stress in your short presentation–can you guess what it might be?
Charles Castiglia, of Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home in Hamburg, New York, knows the answer, having learned it from experience. “We include a presentation about our website in every arrangement. The family gets to choose the Book of Memories™ theme that best suits their loved one,” shared Charles via email. Now here’s the really important part he added, “And we instruct them on how to post the link to our site on Facebook and Twitter.”
Did you get that? They take the time to teach families how to effectively use social media to promote their loved one’s Book of Memories™. “This is an amazing tool to advertise at no cost to the funeral home. Each one of the family members post on Facebook and all of their friends see the post. This has become our single largest source of traffic in less than a year.”
And yes, Charles, success with online memorialization (and online traffic generation) is about taking the time to educate and engage families. But, it’s your enthusiasm that’s contagious! And so that’s my final suggestion for today’s post: enthusiastically show families how much you believe in this relatively new remembrance medium. Remember those three words: enthusiastically show them. Because if you don’t, who will?