Your funeral business provides a timeless and necessary service to families in your community. People will always need your services, and that is exactly what creates competition. According to the 4th edition of Homesteaders’ Preneed Motivators, 72% of policy owners only considered one funeral home when they were thinking about making prearrangements. So, if it wasn’t your funeral home they thought of, it means it was your competitor’s.
Staying top-of-mind is essential for customer acquisition, and there are several things you can do to become a well-known funeral business in your area. Take a look at three tips to help you become the top choice for families in your community.
1. Amp Up Your Digital Marketing
In today’s digitally minded world, your website is almost as important as your physical funeral home. Younger generations no longer use phone books or newspaper ads when they’re looking for a local firm. Instead, they are turning to search engines like Google and Bing to find the information they need. Their first impression of you is going to be online.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a web developer to have a sleek and modern website. There are many companies and agencies that can help you build and customize your website, and you can find and compare them by doing an online search of your own. Some of these companies even work exclusively with funeral home websites, which means they have expertise in the profession’s unique digital needs.
There are a few other important things that factor into how well your website will perform online. One of the major keys is search engine optimization (often referred to as SEO). Giant search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo, use “crawlers” to read your website. These “crawlers,” which I like to imagine as tiny, judgmental robots, are the deciding factor on where your website will show up in search results. To please these robots, you feed them keywords that are relevant to your funeral business.
It may sound like a lot of technical work, but studies have shown that 75% of searchers never go past the first page of search results. That means if your firm is on page two or three, at least three-fourths of all online traffic is going to one of your competitors that maybe ranking higher than you. You can learn more about the details of SEO in a previous Homesteaders blog.
We know you’ve heard this over and over again, but social media really is an important part of every firm’s marketing strategy. Even if you only have time to manage a Facebook page, any type social media footprint can still help your brand. Not only can social media profiles please search engine robots, but they also function like free advertising. Facebook is a great way to keep your firm in the thoughts of families that you hope to serve, and the more authentic you can be, the more people will be attracted to the things you have to say. When a family you have previously served needs the services of a funeral professional again, your name and the atmosphere you created on Facebook will be remembered. Still not convinced? Find out more about why social media matters.
2. Dive into Community Engagement
Community engagement is like the real-world version of Facebook. It’s something that you need, but there isn’t always time to get your hands dirty with it. Some of my favorite community engagement stories from funeral professionals happen when a firm does something simple, but out of the ordinary.
One of our account executives told me a great story about a firm in Kansas that hosted a low-cost movie day to help bolster leads for their preneed services. They rented out a theater at a local cinema for a few hours one morning and promoted the event to a retirement-aged crowd. The firm provided doughnuts and coffee and asked visitors to fill out a card with their information for a chance to win a prize. The bottom of this card had a checkbox that asked whether the entrant would be willing to learn more about prearranging their funeral. Of the 60-plus attendees, one-third agreed to be contacted by the funeral home about their preneed services. That is 20 leads that the funeral home would not have had before.
A large-scale version of community engagement occurred just a few years ago when P.J. Staab of Staab Funeral Homes spearheaded a project to recreate President Lincoln’s hearse for the 150th anniversary of the president’s massive funeral. The story made national news as Veterans across the country worked from the only remaining photograph to create this ornate vehicle. The hearse was finished in time to be the main attraction during the days-long reenactment of the funeral in Springfield, IL. The Staab Funeral Home was referenced in multiple local and national news articles and in funeral service publications, positioning them as a thought-leader, as well as Veteran-friendly in the community. You may have had the chance to see the impressive replica during the 2015 NFDA Convention in Indianapolis.
3. Expand Your Services
Many funeral professionals are offering different services to client families and community members. Not only are firms expanding their properties by adding additional rooms, but they’re using these rooms for events like weddings, community meetings and public forums. Some funeral homes have even added additional staff to manage these non-funeral events.
Funeral homes are also seeking to include value-added additions to their locations, including outdoor focal points like gazebos and ponds, onsite flower shops and even bars. The steady increase of celebration of life receptions in recent years has encouraged many funeral directors to adjust the type of services they host. While a celebration of life service is still somewhat rooted in funeral service, the rise in religiously unaffiliated Americans has transitioned many families out of churches, synagogues and funeral homes and into event spaces, restaurants and recreation centers.
Becoming a staple in your community takes time and effort, especially if you are a relatively new firm without many ties to your location. But with patience and perseverance you can become the funeral home that people want to choose. Keep these three ideas in mind as you plan for future years at your firm, and don’t be afraid to try something new!