Successful funeral home owners understand the importance of connecting with individuals and
families in your community both inside and outside of the funeral home. Providing refreshments at senior center bingo, giving a presentation at your area chamber of commerce meeting and participating in a fundraiser for a charity all involve a commitment to supporting your community and connecting with the people who live there.
I’ve compiled effective community engagement ideas for funeral professionals, which I hope will encourage you to get or stay involved. This is an opportunity to see what your colleagues are doing in their communities and the success they are experiencing. After all, funeral service has built a community that will continue to improve as we share our best practices.
Getting the Community Involved
The staff members at Schubert Funeral Home in Wartburg, TN demonstrated their value in the community by holding an open house at the funeral home. Prior to the event, they worked with their Homesteaders account executive, David Allen, to come up with ways to encourage people in the community to attend. They decided to create a DVD of historic photos, collected from the community and positioned the open house as the premiere of their presentation. By involving many people in the community, including local historians, they were able to generate excitement about the event.
In addition to encouraging participation in the DVD project, the firm promoted the event in the newspaper and through word-of-mouth publicity. It worked! “It was great exposure for the funeral home, and the response from the community was outstanding with nearly 500 people attending,” Allen said. “They also worked closely with Homesteaders’ Marketing Services staff to order marketing materials to hand out.” Allen confirmed that the event helped reinforce the firm’s position as an essential part of the community.
Promoting Your Activities
Successful turnout for open houses, sponsorships and other special events requires proper planning, coordination and effective promotion before, during and after the event. You must promote your events if you expect a good response. Like Schubert Funeral Home, consider using a combination of paid advertising (such as newspaper ads, radio and/or direct mail) and non-paid advertising (such as press releases, blog posts and social media announcements).
These will help generate free word-of-mouth advertising, which is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to generate interest and increase response for your events. When done correctly, the goodwill you generate from involvement in many of these community activities will last long after the actual event.
Extra incentives are another way to encourage people to attend your special event or stop by your booth. There are plenty of low-cost promotional items available such as pens, pencils, refrigerator magnets and coffee mugs. If possible, items should be customized with your funeral home’s information so recipients will remember you long after the event. Offering free refreshments will help increase traffic at your event.
Consider hosting a prize drawing at your event. The prize registration allows you to capture contact information to follow up with attendees after your event. Be sure to include information about prize drawings, freebies and refreshments in your advertising and other promotional materials. Also, be sure to have plenty of business cards and marketing materials to hand out at your events.
Additional Ideas and Resources
Some funeral homes choose to take advantage of a milestone, such as celebrating a significant service anniversary, as an opportunity to host an event for the community. Click here to read a blog post with additional ideas for this type of celebration.
Your account executive can tell you more about community outreach tools and marketing resources that Homesteaders offers.
This post has been adapted from an article that originally appeared in the myHomesteaders newsletter.