Over the past several weeks, our Funeral Home Marketing Series has looked at ways to better understand your customers, build an effective funeral home website, delve into the world of funeral home social media, and develop a well-structured funeral home marketing plan. Essentially, this is the background stuff; all the aspects that your funeral home needs to build and promote your brand. The next step can be daunting for many, but it’s a critical element for any business. You need to put (and keep) yourself out there.
Put a Face to the Name
You can’t assume that people know who you are. Just because your funeral home has been around for ‘X’ number of years, doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve connected to the community. Sure, they may have heard of your firm, but do they know the caring people who make the firm an important and successful business in the community? As summarized in Part 4 of this series, in today’s world, you must work smarter, not harder, and if there were ever a time to properly work ON your business and not IN your business, it is today. Here are five basic tips to better connect the people in your firm to the community.
1. Build Local Partnerships and Promote Them
Network. Network. Network. There’s no better way to ‘put yourself out there’ than actually leaving the confines of the funeral home and meeting people face-to-face. Become a member of a service club like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Optimists, etc.; register with your local Chamber of Commerce or professional business group and attend the events; join a board of directors of a local not-for-profit organization; engage your staff with a volunteer or fundraising opportunity for a local charity; or sponsor a high-profile fundraising event like a golf tournament or community event. The possibilities are endless, but you will make invaluable connections that will serve you and your funeral home well. Building partnerships begins with networking; demonstrating that your care and compassion extends beyond your client families to the community at large is priceless.
2. Track Print Advertising with Unique URLs
Print ads are just another tool in your funeral home marketing arsenal. They create what’s called a brand impression or a snapshot of your firm to those who see it. The goal is to build brand loyalty or trust among potential clients. But, how do you know if it’s working? One technique is to include a unique URL within the ad and then track the visits to that particular web page. Instead of using www.yourfuneralhome.com in the ad, direct those who see the ad to the page on your website related to the ad content: www.yourfuneralhome.com/cremation or www.yourfuneralhome.com/pre-arrangement or www.yourfuneralhome.com/quote-builder. Keep track of which ad promotes which service and check your Google Analytics to determine the effectiveness of the advertisement.
3. Develop a Monthly or Quarterly Electronic Newsletter
Sending a newsletter via email to the families you have served and potential clients is an unobtrusive way to stay connected. It doesn’t have to be long and involved. Take the opportunity before holidays to wish your readers well; let them know about a program, service, or event offered by your firm or in the community; or raise awareness about trends related to anything… funerals, cremation, burial, grief services… the list goes on and on. It’s all about top-of-mind awareness – subtle reminders that you and your firm are there for families and providing a public service.
4. Write Media Releases and Make Sure They’re Seen
Establishing a positive relationship with the local media will pay huge dividends… for free. While newsrooms may be small and understaffed, they are always looking for stories to write. Find news angles and grab their attention. Make a local connection to a national or international story that will encourage a reporter to reach out to you as the ‘go-to’ firm for reaction. When writing a release, keep it simple, use quotable quotes, and position your firm as the authority on a list of various topics regarding current events and trending topics. A media release is also a great way to promote your connection to a local charity or initiative and the benefits to the community.
5. Host Local Events & Prepare Materials for Before and After
Hosting an event at the funeral home or at another location will show those attending that you care. It’s that simple. Again, venturing into a non-funeral environment will allow you to meet people in your community who may have never heard of you or your firm. Becoming a host and then providing basic take-away materials as an option for those who wish to learn more about your services is a bonus. The attendees will put your face to the name, and turn to your firm at their time of need. The event can be anything: an annual community memorial, grief counseling sessions, or pre-planning seminars. Take a look what type of events are offered elsewhere in the community and plan an event that will address a particular need.
Putting yourself out there can be an intimidating prospect, but it’s the only way to take your funeral home marketing plan and run with it. Your website and social media options are the building blocks; they are incredible online tools. Face-to-face contact and engagement with your community will take your marketing plan and notch it up to a whole new level.
Ashley Montroy, Marketing Director at FrontRunner Professional, has committed herself to helping funeral professionals understand and excel in today’s digital age. With a long-standing history in the funeral business and her father being a licensed funeral director for over 30 years; she grew up learning the family funeral business. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton University and diploma from Algonquin College. Today, she continues to speak to over 15 state and provincial funeral association groups each year on funeral marketing in the digital age and protecting funeral firms online using experiences and examples from working with thousands of funeral homes in North America through FrontRunner Professional.