Marketing your firm looks a lot different these days. With social media and digital marketing, there are so many new ways to reach people in your community. However, it remains true that one of the best ways to build lasting connections is to get out in your community and meet people.
We have compiled a few successful community outreach events that are working for funeral professionals across the country.
Organize a Senior Movie Night
Homesteaders Account Executive Lynn Bewley has helped firms host a Senior Movie Night centered around The Unknowns, a documentary about the training and tradition of the Sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. This event honors Veterans in your community and helps bring awareness to the service and sacrifice of the Unknown Soldiers. “It’s been wonderful to see the grandparents/parents bringing their grandchildren/children to these events so they can learn about the most respected and honorable duty a soldier can do for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," Lynn explains. "These events have proven to be unforgettable by the people that attend. Families speak of it often."
The event includes recognizing Veterans in attendance, having an Honor Guard for the Presentation of Flags and can feature a former Tomb Guard as a speaker to host a Q & A session after the documentary screening. As the host of this event, your firm can show appreciation to Veterans in your community, bring publicity to your funeral home and generate leads for future preneed sales.
Sponsor a Holiday Event
John M. Ireland and Son Funeral Home hosts two annual holiday events in their community of Moore, OK: the Halloween Haunt and a Christmas Parade. Annual attendance at these events has grown to more than 12,000 people. John provides all the candy and popcorn for the events through another one of their family businesses, the Candy Castle and Popcorn Palace. “We have a big reputation in the community … this is his life,” Johnathon Ireland shared about his father, John. “He lives and breathes the funeral business and is here 24/7.” With his high level of community involvement, Ireland has won countless awards for patron of the year from many local organizations, building their brand and business.
Hold a Bereavement Service
Having a safe space to share grief and deal with the loss of a loved one is another way to reach out to those in your community. Once a month, Murphy Ruffenach Brian W. Donnelly Funeral Home holds a bereavement service. They bring in a counselor to help the families who attend and open it up to other funeral homes in the area to invite their families as well. “People need a place to go,” states Brian Donnelly. “We strive to treat every family as if they were a member of our own family.”
Host Community Presentations
Hosting group presentations is an important marketing component for many funeral businesses. It can establish the funeral home staff as experts and build trust while also sharing the benefits of advance funeral planning. Cheryl Lankford of Lankford Funeral Home and Crematory attributes part of their success to being involved and giving community presentations about advance funeral planning. “Going out into the community, setting up a presentation for about an hour and answering questions has been one of the greatest lead sources we’ve had,” she explains. “Nobody wants to talk about death. But then it happens and becomes close to them, and it becomes important.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, it became nearly impossible to hold lunch and learn or community education events. Fortunately, technology was available for virtual events to increase in popularity. Funeral home owners can now host virtual community presentations to stay connected while presenting the value of advance funeral planning. Homesteaders Community Engagement Program includes PowerPoint presentations and resources to be used for both in-person and virtual presentations.
No matter what community outreach programs you utilize in your funeral home, it is important to find what works best for you and your community. Using your talents and expertise will help build relationships and establish your firm as the authority. This list is only a sampling of community outreach ideas – what programs have you successfully implemented for your funeral business?