In the previous post, I set out to explore the ways funeral firms can provide an ultimate online experience for their communities using the wisdom of Scott Deming, a keynote speaker at this year’s ICCFA Convention. He asserts that a business’s brand is not derived from marketing and advertising efforts, but from customers.
In a brief exploration of what defines an ultimate online experience, I determined (with the help of a few Facebook friends and my own online experience) that it involves: responsiveness to inquiries; the ability to personalize the platform to provide the most relevant information for my needs and expectations; general ease-of-use; and finally, price and service-related value.
As part of my content writing and search engine optimization duties for FrontRunner, I have seen a lot of websites. I’ve become really familiar with the genre thanks to countless reviews of client websites and those of their top competitors. While I have witnessed a few ultimate online experiences, many others could generate an even better response by following a few basic tips to attract their target market.
- Fully engage in the review of any basic information. Funeral professionals, by and large, are truly passionate about what they do and why they do it. Let that passion out!
- Replace stock images. Showcase images exclusive to your firm and community to create emotive energy. Get out the camera! Load NEW, clear and high quality images of your firm, amenities and staff.
- Tailor web page content to reflect your brand. Customize the generic web content and add brand-specific, consumer-focused information.
- Create interactivity on the site. Avoid sounding like a boring instructor in a classroom, like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoon features. (See below) It can be challenging but try your best to write about death, funerals, cremation and burial in an engaging way.
- Avoid vendor provided sites. These do more to promote the vendor’s products than the funeral firm’s brand. A vendor-provided website (even if it’s free) will never come close to the ultimate experience for your families.
- Create opportunities to provide feedback or to read the feedback of others. Utilize online comment forms, links to social media and user-review sites. Cultivate a following; ask for reviews.
What Else Can Be Done?
I’ve been in this business for over a decade now and while this gives me a whole lot of insight into online marketing for funeral firms, I’m always open to learning. Thanks to my buddy Josh Shannon, the SEO Team Leader here at FrontRunner, I’ve undertaken a crash course in the latest search engine optimization practices. Here are my recommendations:
1. Choose to work with a website development company that is aligned with your funeral firm’s values. FrontRunner has a deep commitment to funeral service technology because we are led by Kevin Montroy, a seasoned funeral director with 30 years’ experience. Many of our branded marketing materials feature his remark that almost 20 years ago he set out to develop innovative funeral technology solutions which honor and respect the deceased, uphold the integrity of the profession, and reinforce the trust that families place in funeral professionals. His words continue to guide us today.
2. Get really clear on your brand. Engage in a rigorous brand development process with your funeral firm staff. And, if you’re attending the ICCFA Convention this year, be sure to sit in on Scott Deming’s Keynote presentation: review the convention schedule and register.
3. Tap into the passion that brought you to this profession in the first place. I know that your day-to-day workload can bury that passion under a long must-do list, but take the time to get back in touch with it prior to developing a new web presence.
4. Bring all that to the development process. There’s nothing finer than clients who bring their passion and clear brand awareness to the website development table. A creative synergy takes place and your new website will ring with this shared commitment.
5. Make sure your website content not only reflects your brand, but is really of value to site visitors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked through to a page on a funeral firm website to read a short, meaningless paragraph that is often unrelated to the page title. What a turn-off! If you don’t like to write or don’t have the time, hire someone who does. Don’t ask just anyone. This special someone must have a deep understanding of the funeral profession and share your commitment to exemplary service and yes, the ultimate consumer experience.
6. Make a real commitment to social media. After all, the families you serve are engaged. It’s not all about Facebook; include the practice of cultivating (and responding to) reviews on sites such as Yelp or Merchant Circle. If you don’t have time to do the work, FrontRunner provides social media services through our partnership with DISRUPT Media Group. For more information, visit the Socially Acceptable webpage.
Funeral firms today can’t afford to have a web presence that’s boring or of no value to their community. Pages devoid of relevant content, images that are out-of-date, and a navigation that is counter-intuitive all do more to undermine a firm’s brand than many funeral professionals imagine. The overall success of your funeral home can depend on your website’s responsiveness, ease-of-use, personalized user experience, and price and service-related value. To discuss these issues in more depth, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call a FrontRunner Product Specialist at 1-866-748-3625.
FrontRunner also hopes everyone attending the upcoming ICCFA Convention will stop at our booth (#828) to say hello.