Compelling Ways to Communicate the Value of Your Funeral Services

Modern consumers are more aware of marketing tactics and strategies than any former generation. These consumers understand that advertising is paid for by businesses to sell their products and, as a result, harbor inherent skepticism regarding traditional marketing. Paid advertising is no longer as effective, and successful marketers need to navigate an entirely new landscape to communicate their services in terms of the value families receive, rather than the cost they pay.

For funeral professionals, this shift marks a divergence from traditional types of advertising and marketing, like newspaper, radio and direct mail, toward more relational marketing efforts, such as community events, testimonials and aftercare – all great ways to combat consumer skepticism while still effectively communicating the value of funeral services.

All services are not equal, but it can be challenging for funeral professionals to articulate the value of their services in a way that families can understand. Here are a few ways you can better communicate the value of your services:

Community Outreach

One of the most effective ways to communicate the value of funeral service is to first communicate the value of you and your business to your community. When consumers attend a free lunch and learn at your funeral home, they perceive you as an expert in funeral service. When they see you sponsoring a local scholarship competition, they perceive you as a generous advocate for education. When they run into you at the local diner, they perceive you as a supporter of community-owned businesses. End-of-life care is deeply personal and highly sensitive. Once consumers see you as a valuable member of the community, they are much more likely to trust you with the care of their loved ones.

A recent survey of Homesteaders policy owners found that the majority of consumers – over 70 percent – considered only one funeral service provider when making their final arrangements. When you and your staff are active in the community, you increase your name recognition and the likelihood that your funeral home will be top of mind when consumers finalize their end-of-life plans.

Hosting funeral home milestone celebrations, planning holiday memorial services and getting involved in your community are all ways to boost your name recognition while simultaneously adding value to your community.

Arrangement Conferences

An arrangement conference is an excellent time to showcase the value of your firm's services while creating a meaningful relationship with a new client family or nurturing a relationship with a long-time client family. 

Start with a Tour

One of the most effective ways to showcase your services is to greet every family at the door and take them on a tour of your building. For many funeral providers, their facilities are the showpiece of their offering, providing beautiful and thoughtfully designed spaces to meet a variety of needs. For some families, this may be the first time they’ve been in your (or any) funeral home. Getting them familiar with the space will help pave the way for a better, more comfortable experience for each family.

When you lead families through your building, take time to explain what each room is used for and how other families have found value in them in the past. Some examples of these explanations might include:

  • This is our visitation space. Visitations offer friends and family members an opportunity to view the deceased prior to the funeral, greet the immediate family and provide condolences. Many families choose to decorate this space with their loved one’s photos, collectibles or other meaningful items. I even had one family last year who brought in their dad’s beloved golden retriever and had him sitting on a pillow in that corner over there…”
  • “This is our chapel. You can opt to have a service for your mom here or in another venue like a church or community center. If you decide to have your service here, we can provide live streaming and video recording for any friends or family members who are unable to attend in person. We buried a wonderful woman last month whose husband was in the nursing home and unable to attend the service. We were able to live stream the funeral so he could watch it from his room alongside the other residents and nursing home staff...”
  • “This is our reception space. Many families use this room to host a luncheon following their service where they can have food catered in, invite family and friends and share stories and memories of the deceased. One of my favorite services was for a woman who was very active in her church’s bridge club. All the members showed up with potluck casseroles and stayed for hours playing cards, all while laughing and exchanging stories...”

The tour also gives funeral directors an opportunity to learn a little more about the family they’re serving, their loved one and any initial thoughts they have on services for the deceased.

Provide an Agenda

Another thing that can help drive conversations around service is to provide an agenda to families when they sit down for an arrangement conference.

This does a few things:

  • It helps funeral directors ensure that they are collecting all the information they need to plan a meaningful tribute.
  • It gives families peace of mind knowing that you’re going to talk about everything – including price – and that all their questions will be answered.
  • It helps keep the arrangement conference moving, providing a better experience for families and funeral home staff.

At Homesteaders, we’ve created customizable arrangement conference agendas to use with families who select burial and cremation. Contact your account executive to learn more.

Share Your Stories

Historically, service leaders in the funeral space provided similar first impressions – well-groomed professionals in pressed suits and spotless shoes welcoming friends and family members to visitations, funerals and graveside services. The differentiators were the personalities of those professionals, the quality of the facilities and how quickly they could arrive at the deceased’s home after receiving a call at 2 a.m.

But, in the last decade or so, we’ve seen a shift in the way consumers value funerals. In general, consumers now tend to be less community-centric, less religious, less rooted, less appreciative of tradition and professionalism. This change has had ripple effects that reach far and wide, and the funeral profession – a business that focuses largely on the value of ceremony – has been deeply impacted by these shifting consumer preferences.

Personalized funerals are important for a number of reasons, but the true core of their value is that they breathe new life into the value of the funeral itself and redefine how service leaders can compete in a crowded market. And they do so in a way that meets the needs of consumers who want to do things differently than their parents or grandparents.

The services that truly stand out to funeral professionals do so because they were deeply personal. I have yet to hear a funeral director talk about a service that was memorable because they arranged for a beautiful casket spray, played “Amazing Grace” and served buttered ham buns. Instead, they focus on the time they took the funeral procession through the drive-thru at the deceased’s favorite restaurant, or when they read a favorite children’s book at the funeral of an elementary school librarian. Those things stand out in their memories because they were vivid expressions of a unique life – and a unique loss.

That’s at the core of service leadership in today’s funeral profession. The most successful firms have mastered creativity and responsiveness. In those communities, those “unique” services have become standard, raising the bar for what service looks like for families. That’s truly the most effective way to compete today – find ways to lead in personalization that your competitor cannot replicate.

One of the best ways to compete on service is to share stories during the arrangement conference of the most meaningful and personalized services you have planned for families. Those stories demonstrate the value of your service beyond anything else you can say to a family, while also helping them think of creative ways to honor their own loved one.


Today’s consumers may not trust advertising, but they do trust their peers. Peer recommendations are far more effective with today’s consumers than traditional advertising. Communicating the value of your services through someone in the community is one of the most effective ways to lend credibility to your business.

Consumers want to learn about other people’s experiences and they also want to share their own. Think about the last time a friend asked you about your favorite television show. You probably named the show and then took a few minutes to explain what you like about it and what motivates you to tune in each week. You shared your thoughts with a level of enthusiasm that matched your level of enjoyment. Essentially, you endorsed the show as a way of trying to “sell it” to your friend. You had nothing to gain from this conversation other than the satisfaction of sharing your own enjoyment with someone who might benefit from the same experience.

Think about the families you have served this year. Are there any that stand out as having been especially pleased with your services? Consider following up with these families and asking them to share their experiences with other community members. Chances are, they will be more than happy to offer advice to other grieving families. And, having been so well satisfied with your firm’s funeral services, they can become invaluable brand ambassadors for your business.


The goal of every marketing effort should be to reach the right person with the right message at the right time. When you place an advertisement in a newspaper, you often don’t know exactly who you will reach. Ideally, your ad will find its way to someone older who is finally ready to complete their end-of-life plans. But your message could just as easily reach someone much younger who’s not at all ready to consider funeral planning.

Targeting is a particularly effective component of marketing, one that your firm can easily manage through a thoughtful and effective aftercare program.

Our policy owner research consistently identifies the recent death of a friend or family member as a powerful motivator in making end-of-life plans. As a funeral service provider, you are uniquely qualified to reach out to these individuals in the months following the death of a loved one, offering the grief support they need, underscoring the value of funeral service and introducing the benefits of prearrangement.

Aftercare is an important part of a funeral home’s marketing efforts. Staying connected with families who have used your firm before helps you generate testimonials that can offer value to consumers. It also fosters brand loyalty, helps you stay connected and ensures that you remain top of mind when these individuals need further care.

These are just a few of the many ways to showcase the value of your firm's services. What other ways have you found to communicate this to families? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Subscribe to the Homesteaders BlogGet the latest funeral service tips and insights delivered to your inbox.