In the first and second posts of this three-part series, we discussed what a funeral home marketing plan is and why it’s necessary and how to lock down market share in your community using a market analysis. The final post in this series will cover high-level considerations and marketing tactics you should account for when aligning your firm’s marketing strategy to your customer journey. Specifically, we will explore each stage of the marketing funnel and help you consider how to use appropriate digital and physical marketing tactics and messaging at each phase to move consumers through the funnel.
1. Nurture Your Consumers (Top of the Funnel)
Awareness and consideration make up the first two stages of the marketing funnel – a model in which the consumer starts at the top, and your firm’s marketing, sales and customer service efforts funnel them to the bottom. During these stages, you need to educate your consumers about the benefits of prearranging and make them aware of your funeral home. To do so, let’s explore several top-of-the-funnel considerations and marketing tactics to help you align your strategy to the customer journey.
Top-of-the-funnel Considerations and Marketing Tactics
Picture Every Contact as an Asset
You should consider every contact who enters the awareness and consideration stages an asset. Why? Because every new contact who interacts with your top-of-the-funnel efforts represents a potential preneed or at-need opportunity for your firm.
Meet the Consumer at the Top
When a consumer enters the top of the funnel, it’s easy for businesses to want to jump ahead and push the consumer to the bottom of the funnel as quickly as possible. However, you should avoid this approach at all costs. Two of the biggest mistakes businesses make when marketing to consumers at the top of the funnel include:
- Failing to educate and create awareness. Consumers want to learn. Use this time to educate them about the value of planning ahead and what sets your firm apart from your competitors.
- Not continuing to provide value through content for consumers who don’t “raise their hands” to buy right away. Just because a consumer subscribes to your blog or downloads a content piece from your website doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. But don’t turn your back on them! Nurture them until they are ready to prearrange; for example, suggest related blog posts, encourage them to follow you on social media or enroll them in an email sequence complete with additional resources. According to Homesteaders’ biennial policy owner survey, many policy owners take a year or more to make advance funeral plans after they first hear about prearranging. Again, use this time to educate your consumers and position your firm as the go-to provider in your community.
Use a CRM System
Since consumers could take upwards of one or two years before they decide to prearrange, you should track every interaction and monitor their engagement using a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The most sophisticated CRM systems will track how consumers interact with your firm’s marketing efforts and offer tools to help you continue to build those relationships.
Dedicate Personnel to Communicate with Prospects
Every interaction a consumer has with your firm matters. To generate new leads at the top of the funnel and move top-of-the-funnel leads through the funnel, you should dedicate specific staff members to communicate with prospects and customers all the time – even if this means recruiting and hiring more employees. This strategy will help ensure that every interaction is an exceptional experience for consumers who may or may not be ready to buy as well as customers who you have already served but should lean on for referral business.
2. Guide Your Consumers to Purchase (Middle of the Funnel)
Purchase represents the third stage of the marketing funnel or the stage in which you need to guide consumers to their ultimate decision: making advance funeral plans. The considerations and marketing tactics within this phase build upon those executed in the awareness and consideration stages.
Middle-of-the-funnel Considerations and Marketing Tactics
Prioritize Consumer Experience
As you guide consumers from the top of the funnel to purchase, you must continue to prioritize their experience with your firm. Their experience will influence their purchase decision and how they discuss your firm with others in person or online. Remember to make the process straightforward and keep these tips in mind when serving preneed families.
Sell on the Consumer’s Terms
For many, making advance funeral plans is a difficult decision that takes time. You can help consumers feel more comfortable with the prearrangement process by ensuring their funeral plans reflect their lives. Again, keep the process clear and simple and focus on meeting the prospect where they’re at in their decision-making process.
Take “No” as an Acceptable Outcome
You will have prospects that tell you, “no,” and that’s okay. Even a “no” is an asset to you if you make the most of it. For example, collect feedback from the prospect to understand why they decided not to make advance funeral plans. Their feedback can help you improve many aspects of your process – from your marketing efforts to your interpersonal skills to your arrangement conference. Failing to collect feedback from these individuals could lead to future missed opportunities for your firm.
3. Inspire Customer Loyalty (Bottom of the Funnel)
Loyalty represents the final stage of the marketing funnel. Aim to inspire customer loyalty during this stage because it can feed the top of the funnel – creating a steady stream of potential preneed and at-need business for your firm.
Bottom-of-the-funnel Considerations and Marketing Tactics
Increase Sense of Brand Ownership
When aligning your funeral home marketing strategy to your customer journey in this stage, first consider how you can give your customers a sense of brand ownership. For example, you can continue to provide customers with educational content, offer an aftercare program to support their family, collect their feedback in regular surveys or ask for referrals or online reviews. By continuing the conversation with families after they prearrange, you can give them peace of mind knowing your firm will carry out their final wishes, and you position your funeral home as a valuable resource in your community.
Remain Top of Mind for Referrals
Putting your best foot forward and offering exceptional customer service at all times can help keep your firm top of mind when customers have family members or friends to refer. Any time you go above and beyond and provide added value for families, you set your firm apart from competitors.
Establish Lifetime Customer Value
Lifetime customer value (LCV) is the amount of revenue an individual customer will generate through every stage of life. Once you convert a prospect into a customer, continue serving that individual by educating them on your other services. For example, you can provide lasting service to customers and their family members through aftercare.
Create Incremental Revenue Opportunities
Aligning your marketing strategy to your customer journey can create incremental revenue opportunities for your firm. The bottom of the funnel will continue to feed the top. If you take time to educate consumers and create an exceptional experience for them from their first interaction with your firm to their last, they will value your service and share their experiences with others.
Executing your funeral home marketing plan takes time and presents many other factors to consider, especially if you plan to work with outside business consultants or vendors. Keep these considerations in mind when evaluating whether to use internal or external resources to execute your marketing plan:
- Are they trustworthy?
- Do they take data security seriously?
- Are they financially secure?
- Do they fill a knowledge, skill or functional gap?
- What will their responsibilities include?
- Do they have similar values to your firm?
- Are they ethical?
- What happens if you choose to part ways?
Firms that successfully align their funeral home marketing strategy and messaging to the customer journey will see more positive engagement from consumers and quickly outpace competitors. Contact your Homesteaders account executive to learn more about developing an effective funeral home marketing plan.
This blog post is part of a three-part series: How to Build a Funeral Home Marketing Plan That Works.