Funeral Business Leadership Series: Part 3 - Leading in the Community

This is the final post in a series of three blog posts showcasing how small improvements can help you become a business leader in your industry and community. In the first post, we discussed Leading the Business, in the second post we discovered Leading a Team and in this third post, we will cover how to be a leader in your community, including establishing yourself as a thought leader, joining community groups, hosting community events and boosting your digital marketing efforts.

We know you have much to focus on in your daily tasks running your funeral home business, but occasionally part of that should include marketing efforts to keep your business running into the future. We’ve put together some ideas you can easily implement to bolster your business for years to come and position yourself as a leader in your community.

Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

This is one of the most cost-effective and easiest tools in your marketing toolbox. When your current or potential client families experience your work – whether by coming to you for their loved one’s funeral or finding helpful grief information on your website, word-of-mouth advertising can do wonders to bring in new client families and establish existing ones. Here is a great resource on ways to establish your funeral home as an expert community resource. From building your brand to offering your expertise to media sources, this post shows you how to be the go-to on funeral and aftercare topics in your community.

Join Groups in Your Community

Many funeral professionals have experienced the benefits of getting involved in community organizations. Become a member of your local Chamber of Commerce to add your name to their list of local businesses. Their website is a hub for people looking for services in their town or city, so including your name on the membership list allows people to find you more easily and shows you care for your community.

Encourage your entire staff to get involved in the community on a personal level, doing what they love in your community. They could volunteer at an animal shelter, food bank or serve on a board of directors for their favorite nonprofit.

One of our clients, Haisley Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Florida, gets heavily involved in community events through a variety of local groups and charitable organizations. The Haisley family and their staff serve as Little League coaches, read for Dr. Seuss’s birthday at the elementary schools, help students complete 4-H projects at the local fair, meet new business owners to offer their support and much more.

“It brings us so much joy and we get to show that we’re not just about funerals and sadness,” shared B. Quinn Haisley-Wheeler, Director of Funeral Service Operations/Pet Services at Haisley Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

You can even partner with your local hospital or hospice to offer grief support groups or branded aftercare materials for those who have lost loved ones. When offering a grief support group, partner with a licensed local grief counselor and invite client families who have lost loved ones in the last five years. Inviting a variety of people at different stages of grief may be helpful so participants can share their experiences and find comfort in solidarity and hope.

By involving yourself in the community, you make connections as an approachable, caring and known member and become top-of-mind when someone is looking for end-of-life and aftercare services.

Host Community Events

You have limitless opportunities when planning an event for your community. You don’t have to plan a large event but think outside the box when brainstorming events that interest people in your town or city. We’ve put together some ideas below to get you started.

Cemetery/Historical Tour

Host a tour at your local cemetery, pointing out memorials of historical and local interest. Depending on your location, you might consider providing transportation and hosting a reception at your funeral home with refreshments after the tour. You can even partner with your local historical society to share more details about relevant monuments and memorials. Consider encouraging participants to post to their social media about their experience using a hashtag related to either your funeral home or the event.

If a group tour doesn’t work for you, another option is to hire a local artist to create a printable illustrated map of significant memorials, so community members can print it off and have their own self-guided tour. Make sure your logo, website, social accounts and phone number appear on the map so participants can easily contact you, then share it to your website and social pages and offer it to city officials to place on their website.

Candlelight Memorial Service

Partner with a local church to host a candlelight memorial service for people who have lost loved ones in the last year. This could happen around the winter holidays or another special day. Encourage participants to bring a framed picture of their loved ones and place all the pictures at the front of the room. The service could include poetry or scripture readings, songs and a moment of silence when all the candles are lit.

After the service, host a reception of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments at the church or local restaurant. Visit this blog post for more ideas on how to recognize loved ones during holidays.

Genealogy Workshop

Partner with your local historical society to host a genealogy event where participants can research their relatives in old local newspapers or other genealogy databases. Give participants the option of printing off their family tree at the end of the workshop and taking it home with them as a keepsake. Consider having your staff go through the exercise in advance so they can share a bit about their own experience with attendees.

Family Scrapbook Event

Invite community members and their children or grandchildren to a scrapbook event where they bring pictures, and you provide paper, stickers and other scrapbook materials. You can turn on music and provide refreshments for the participants to enjoy after they’ve completed their projects.

Boost Your Digital Marketing Efforts

Most people in your community likely have an online presence today and potential client families will likely look up your website or socials to see the services you offer. It’s important to keep your online platforms up to date and engaging for your current and potential client families to discover more about you.

Nick Grant, Marketing Director at eFuneral Partner, noted, “According to Forbes, 92% of the Baby Boomer generation shops online, so an online presence is key to connecting our partners with new customers, and we strive to do the same, maintaining our own online presence to reach new funeral homes.” 

Social media doesn’t have to be daunting or time consuming, but you should post consistently. Choose which platforms make sense to use for your funeral home and start posting! You can make a social media plan with a simple calendar and fill in key dates for your community events, fun activities your staff participates in at work or in the community, inspirational quotes and the services you offer. You can post about your services in bite-sized portions; choose one offering per post and always drive people to your website where they will learn more about your funeral home and can schedule appointments to prearrange. Check out this post for more social media tips.

Do you pay attention to your website’s SEO? We know that sounds tricky but check out our blog post that dives into problems and fixes to help maximize your SEO. From using the right keywords to adding links, we’ll help you stay on top of today’s SEO demands. In addition, read the blog post Today’s Fundamentals for Marketing Your Funeral Home to discover an overview of tactics you can use to bolster your online presence.

Sending email campaigns to connect with your audience can increase engagement as well. Grant shared, “We’ve really focused our digital marketing on personalization – we want our audience to receive content that matters to them.” eFuneral uses a Salesforce-integrated marketing platform to run email campaigns that segment audiences and send communication paths based on a person’s engagement and interest in the eFuneral products. “We’ve launched several new products this year, and this individualized approach makes it easier for us to connect potential partners with the tools that will most help them succeed,” said Grant.

We hope you found some helpful tips and tools to continue your community marketing efforts. If you’d like to learn more about Leading the Business and Leading a Team, check out our other blog posts in this Leadership Series.

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