3 Lessons Funeral Professionals Can Learn from Marketer Seth Godin

“Marketing is driven by better. Better service, better community, better outcomes,” writes world-renowned marketer, speaker and author Seth Godin in his latest best-selling book, This Is Marketing. “We can do work that matters for people who care.”

Seth Godin is heralded among many in the marketing community as a driver of innovation, responsiveness and creativity. He has written 19 bestsellers, including Tribes, Purple Cow and Linchpin. His work has been translated into 35 languages and his daily blog is one of the most popular in the world. His ideas have been instrumental in shaping much of what we understand about modern marketing – and was a keynote speaker at the 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo in Chicago.

In anticipation of Seth’s opening keynote address, we’ve compiled three of his ideas that are most relevant to funeral professionals.



“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic.”

Many funeral professionals view their jobs as a calling – not a career. You don’t work in the funeral industry – you work in funeral service. It’s demanding and exhausting and thankless. It requires sacrifice, often invisible to client families who do not fully understand the value of what you do.

Consider how you position your goods and services. Do you offer them up as line items on an invoice, or are you sharing with families the reasons you offer the services that you do and how you hope to serve them in the days ahead? When you think about your services, try to frame them in terms of the value they offer families – the story behind the service:

  • Do you provide limousine service to families? You likely offer this so families can travel to and from services together, enjoying some much-needed privacy and peace amidst an emotionally exhausting day.
  • Do you offer refreshments during visitations? You likely provide this so families have a comfortable, welcoming environment in which to share stories and mourn their loss.
  • Do you provide unique aftercare services? You likely offer these services because you know the grieving process can last months or even years, and you want to be there to meet the needs of your client families even after the conclusion of their services.

When you sit down with a family to plan a service, focus on the why – the story behind why you do what you do and who you do it for. Ask them questions, build a relationship with them and then focus on how to bring a little magic to their loved one's service.

“Fitting in is a short-term strategy that gets you nowhere. Standing out is a long-term strategy that takes guts.” 

Finding ways to stand out in your market place is critically important. According to Homesteaders’ latest policy owner survey, 72% of consumers consider only one funeral home when making prearrangements. That number is likely much higher at the time of need when there is little time to investigate funeral service providers. In today’s competitive marketplace, it is essential to implement funeral home marketing that keeps your firm top-of-mind when a death occurs.

There are a number of ways to stand out – and what works best will depend on your market. For your firm, standing out might mean offering goods and services families cannot find anywhere else. It might mean offering families a more cost-effective way to honor their loved one with dignity. Or, it might mean focusing on the customer experience and making it as easy as possible to do business with your firm. Whatever it is, make sure you identify the ways you stand out in your market place – and then communicate those things to your community.

“People hear things differently. They see things differently. You’re not going to change the way they hear or they see – not at first. But you can earn their attention by going where they are.”                         

This is, perhaps, the most critical lesson for funeral professionals. Consumers are changing. The traditional customer isn’t traditional anymore, and finding ways to meet their needs – on their terms – presents challenges for a profession that is steeped in ritual and tradition.

“If we are truly committed to meeting the needs of the families we serve, we need to provide as many paths to working with us as we can,” explains Homesteaders CEO Steve Shaffer. “Our goal should always be to connect the interested and inquiring consumer to a funeral professional, in whatever way possible.”

One of the ways funeral professionals can start to meet consumers where they’re at is by looking into ways to interact with them digitally. “We know that there is a growing group of people who want to engage with service providers online,” Shaffer continued. “We have to acknowledge that for some people, engaging through a digital portal facilitates an experience that is more convenient and more tailored to their specific needs, making it a more personal experience.”

One of the ways Homesteaders is helping funeral homes engage consumers digitally is through our new eFuneral sales and lead generation platform. “The eFuneral platform maximizes market share by connecting funeral providers with consumers who are already comfortable making purchases online,” explains Luke Frieberg, President of eFuneral. “We give our partners access to families they are unlikely to reach through traditional advertising methods and help them attract, convert and close sales.” Click here to learn more about the eFuneral platform.

eFuneral Partner: Learn more about capturing online leads

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