In today’s competitive marketplace, funeral home marketing is an essential component of a successful long-term business strategy. Many of our funeral home customers have limited resources to devote to marketing. In fact, 44% of respondents to Kates-Boylston’s latest marketing survey spend less than $15,000 on their annual marketing efforts. The same survey found that only 29% of funeral home owners write an annual marketing plan for their business, meaning that nearly three fourths of respondents don’t have a strategy in place to allocate those limited marketing dollars.
Peter Drucker, an American management consultant and prolific author, penned the famous adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This is absolutely true when it comes to marketing. If you don’t know where your money is going – or you don’t have a plan in place for where you want it to go – you can’t effectively reach your target market.
So, how do you implement a more strategic approach? We’ve compiled some statistics to help you get started.
Why does marketing matter?
Seventy-two percent of respondents to Homesteaders’ 2015 policy owner survey considered 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.
How much should I be spending?
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your business’s gross income on marketing. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, in 2014 the median cost of a funeral with a visitation and burial was $7,181. In theory, a firm that does an average of 50 calls a year at the median amount should be spending at least $25,000 on funeral home marketing each year. This will obviously vary based on your marketplace – the level of competition, the demographics, your current market saturation, etc. – but it’s a good benchmark to get you started.
What should I be saying?
It depends. If you want to focus your marketing messages on increasing your firm’s name recognition, it’s always a good idea to include messaging about your firm’s services, staff and facilities. Including testimonials is also a powerful tool, as peer recommendations carry far more weight with today’s consumers. If you want to focus your marketing on your preneed program, you would be well served to focus your content on the benefits of prearranging.
Nine out of ten respondents to Homesteaders’ policy holder survey reported eliminating the emotional and financial burdens for their children as extremely important motivations to prearrange. When you’re designing marketing messages, incorporate content that highlights this key benefit – make sure your community understands that preneed is a loving and generous gift to leave behind for surviving loved ones.
Eighty-five percent of Homesteaders policy holders cited locking in today’s prices as an extremely important motivator to pre-arrange and pre-fund their funerals. While emotional motivators are important, the financial incentive to prearrange also has a powerful impact on a consumer’s decision to preplan and prefund. To be effective, you need to incorporate the financial benefits of prearranging into your marketing messages.
How often should I send out new messaging?
One in four respondents to Homesteaders’ 2015 policy owner survey reported two years or more between first considering pre-arranging and filling out the paperwork. When designing your funeral home marketing campaigns, it’s important to keep this in mind so you don’t get discouraged by a potentially low response rate and give up too quickly. Often, it takes several months – and several exposures to your funeral home’s messages – before an individual is ready to make their final arrangements.
Where should I focus my messaging?
Sixty percent of respondents to Homesteaders’ 2015 policy owner survey use the internet to search for information. While traditional advertising messages like direct mail have a role to play in your funeral home marketing strategy, it’s also important to ensure that your digital presence measures up. Make sure your funeral home website is user-friendly and you’re effectively using social media to build relationships with your community. As an increasing number of consumers go online to search for information on funeral services, these tools will only become more important.
As you can see, marketing is an essential component of your funeral home’s long-term business strategy, and effectively and strategically targeting your budget is the best way to ensure maximum effectiveness.