Effective Direct Mail Practices for Your Funeral Home Business

For many years, funeral home businesses have used direct mail as one way to establish relationships with potential preneed customers. The value of using direct mail for funeral home marketing has stood the test of time, but the most effective methods are always changing alongside evolving consumer preferences.  

Over time, direct mail has proven its value in many ways. First, it is highly targeted and personal. You are able to pick and choose who you would like to receive your message based on specific demographics. Companies that specialize in direct mail are able to pinpoint potential customers by using demographic models that mirror people who have already made the decision to prearrange their funeral, which can greatly increase the success of your campaign.

Direct mail is also an excellent medium for tracking because it allows you to count leads, appointments and sales with relative ease.

Finally, direct mail is tangible. Since people are able to touch and see your marketing piece when they receive it in their mailbox, they are more likely to see your message as reliable and therefore, more likely to open it and respond. 

In addition, direct mail is versatile. It can be used in many different formats and can be tailored to fit your specific needs. Some of the most popular formats used by funeral home businesses include:

  • Approach letter: An approach letter is addressed to the recipient and explains some of the benefits of advance funeral planning. The letter ends with an offer to receive more information by returning the postage-paid card. Respondents will receive a free gift such as a personal arrangement guide.
  • Survey: Surveys are similar to the approach letter. Recipients are asked to complete a survey and mail it back to the funeral home in a postage-paid envelope. Once it is received, the funeral home will supply the recipient with a free gift.
  • Event RSVP: An event RSVP takes a different approach altogether. Recipients are invited to attend an event about advance funeral planning such as a lunch-and-learn or dinner program. Event RSVPs ask recipients to respond with their plans to attend the event.

Homesteaders' funeral home customers have seen an increase in the response rate from event RSVPs compared to traditional direct mail campaigns. Event RSVPs have shown response rates two to four times higher than approach letters and surveys.

Some of the reasons for this increase are simple. Who doesn’t like to eat? Offering a meal with the presentation helps recipients feel more at ease and more comfortable asking questions about advance funeral planning. A third party will often collect RSVPs on behalf of your funeral home. Since recipients also know they will not be speaking directly to a salesperson to RSVP for the event, the recipients are more likely to confirm their reservation. 

In addition to the increased response rate for event RSVPs, funeral homes that have successfully executed these events have reported that as many as 75% of those who attend set up appointments to discuss their preneed options. These events can be powerful lead generators for funeral home businesses, but the success depends on how the presentation is executed. Having the right content and the right people in place is key.

One of the most important components of a successful direct mail campaign is to find the right partner to help execute your campaign. A direct mail partner will help with your campaign from beginning to end—providing the most current mailing lists, developing the mailing piece, printing, staging and mailing.

Many direct mail options are available on the Homesteaders Marketing Order System. Funeral homes are also able to use their PartnerPoints® to pay for direct mail orders and will receive an additional $0.25 for every $1.00 spent. Your account executive can also provide you with additional details about direct mail and event planning.

What direct mail campaigns have been successful at your funeral home?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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