Remember when the best communication tools we had available to us–both as “common folk” and as funeral service professionals–were a pen or pencil, paper, envelope, and a stamp? I sure do. Back then, letter-writing was an art form, as was penmanship. Today, everything is different.
Thanks to technology, we’ve got more ways to communicate with one another than we often have time for—ways like email, and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
And let’s not forget what many think is an outdated tool: the blog. I’ve seen funeral firms take to blogging like a duck takes to water! Just consider the O’Connor Mortuary blog—which I believe to be one of the best, most engaging; most enjoyable funeral firm blogs around. There are other great examples out there, too; but I’m sorry to say I’ve also seen some real blogging failures from funeral firm owners with the best intentions, but not enough time or expertise to “carry it off.” Still, I give them kudos for trying.
The crux of the matter is this: Really successful funeral firms take full advantage of these channels through the design and implementation of a well-organized communication strategy.
In a recent eBook, Get Personal with Personalization, I wrote that these same firms know this: personalization of funeral home services only begins with the arrangement conference; then continues through the funeral, and well into aftercare. And communications technology, in all its forms and channels, can be a real asset to any funeral firm choosing to boost their effectiveness in connecting with families in their community.
Embrace technology to automate your communication plan. The latest breed of contact management systems is robust enough to let you delegate tasks, set reminders and keep detailed contact history records. Taking advantage of these systems can help you create a fully-automated communication plan that runs like a well-oiled machine. (By the way, FrontRunner offers two fully-automated ways to stay top-of-mind with your families, through our proprietary year-long email series, 365 Days of Healing, and 52 Weekly Tips.)
Keep your communications consistent, reliable and, above all, proactive. What often happens to us? We get sidetracked or overwhelmed by our commitments, which can derail the best communication strategy. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably do. That’s a great philosophy for all of life; not just relegated to our professional lives, don’t you think?
Expand your plan beyond yesterday’s or today’s client families. Now is the ideal time to establish new relationships by effectively using social media. They are seeking proactive funeral service professionals who are not afraid to answer difficult questions. By stepping up to answer those questions, you’ll put your firm in a prime position to establish lifelong relationships.
A solid communication plan will ultimately save you considerable time and effort, and ultimately help you to preserve existing valuable client family relationships and attract new clients who want something more from their funeral service professionals.
Building a multi-channel communication funeral home marketing plan shouldn’t be overwhelming. Simply open a couple of channels to start, as the foundation of a plan you will continue to fine-tune over time (based on the response of your audience).
I was fascinated by some of the responses, and I know that many of you reading this now will also be willing to share your insights on the matter in the comment section below.
I think the most telling remark, made by a well-respected gentleman of funeral service, actually decrying the importance of “staying in touch” with families. “No one wants to hear from us after the service,” he said. “They simply want to grieve in peace, and move on with their lives.”
I, for one, do not agree. In fact, a friend who recently had to arrange services for a family member called me only to tell me that she was very impressed by the funeral firm she selected–because her funeral director called two weeks after the funeral to check-in with her, and to offer her additional grief support. “I felt really special,” confided my friend. “I didn’t think they would care about me so much!” My response was, “Of course they do!”
And of course you do too. So, tell us, what are you doing, using current communication technology, to stay-in-touch with families and your community? Leave your comments below.