According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), a brand is defined as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these items intended to identify the goods and services of one seller and differentiate them from those of other sellers.” Branding is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle for any business that strives to not only be successful in but dominate their local market. Effective branding helps companies ensure their message is easily recognized, understood, and accepted by the intended target market.
Not unlike other industries, funeral homes should develop a marketing strategy and brand their funeral home in a way that:
- Differentiates their services
- Delivers their message clearly and consistently
- Creates an emotional connection
- Builds credibility and trust
- Ensures loyalty
With these goals in mind, let’s take a look at some tips to accomplish successful funeral home branding.
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Goal: Differentiate your funeral home’s services
Tip #1: Know your audience
Branding begins with your audience; this is true for any company in any industry. Your audience is the reason you are in business and therefore should be your primary focus when establishing a marketing strategy. Those currently engaging with your brand and those that have future propensity to do so should both be considered part of your target market.
To learn about your audience, assess your local community. Take a look at demographic information such as population, gender, income and education levels, race, religion, and more.
Additionally, know what services are appealing to your local community. What segment of your audience chooses burial vs. cremation? Does your community request natural burials or green funerals?
Lastly, understanding your market from an economical standpoint will help your funeral home decide on a pricing strategy. Determine, for example, whether your market is affluent, middle class, or low income… From here, you can decide what segment of the market you want to brand yourself around…
Keeping in mind your families’ specific wants and needs will assist your funeral home in creating messaging that not only reaches but resonates with your audience.
Tip #2: Know your competitive advantage
Unfortunately, many funeral homes are unsure of how to market themselves to families in this increasingly consumer-driven market. If families no longer base their final care decisions on geographic proximity or long-standing relationships with neighborhood funeral homes, how can firms differentiate themselves from their competitors in order to attract families? Step one to answering this question is understanding and communicating your funeral home’s competitive advantage.
Begin by identifying the one or two defining characteristic that sets your funeral home apart. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How does my funeral home compare to my competitors in terms of price?
- What makes my facilities better than others in my area?
- Does my funeral home market our pre-planning services more aggressively than competitors?
- How long have I been in business compared to my competitors?
- Do I have a demonstrable record of offering creative, personalized services?
- Am I more modern than my competitors in terms of the funeral technology I offer?
- Can I offer families more caskets, urns, or other products than my competitors?
- How do I go above and beyond to serve my families?
Once you have identified the one or two characteristics that make your funeral home stand out above the rest, focus on developing a multi-channel marketing/branding strategy that supports this competitive advantage. Your unique selling point is what should immediately come to mind when families in your community think of your funeral home.
Take these potential competitive advantages and associated branding and marketing strategies for example:
Competitive advantage: “We offer the least expensive services in town”
Branding and marketing strategy:
Optimize your website for keywords such as “affordable”, “least expensive”, or “best value.” This will improve your chances of showing up higher in the search results when someone searches for a local funeral home with affordable prices. Additionally, make sure you clearly and visibly communicate your low prices on your website. Then, carry this communication through your social channels and direct/email marketing campaigns for consistent branding.
Competitive advantage: “Our pre-need offerings surpass those of our competitors ”
Branding and marketing strategy:
If your funeral home isn’t the only firm in your community, securing future business through pre-planning and pre-funding is essential. Regardless if other funeral homes are marketing their preneed services, your funeral home should aim to dominate this side of the business for downstream growth. Market your services aggressively through a combination of email and direct mail sent to those that are most likely to respond. Focus on sending to those in the 55+ age range that have interacted with your funeral home in the past, whether online or in your funeral home.
Not currently tracking potential preneed leads? Frazer Consultants’ stylus-based digital registry eGuest uses proprietary technology to gather the highest quality leads for the most cost-effective preneed marketing. Learn more.
Knowing what makes your funeral home unique enables you to deliver a message, whether on your funeral home website, in marketing materials, on social media, or while meeting with families, in a way that conveys your competitive advantage. Click here to learn more.
Goal: Deliver your funeral home’s message clearly and consistently
Tip #3: Use consistent imagery & verbiage
Now that you’ve taken the time to get to know your audience and competitive advantage, it is time to start conveying your brand message in a clear and consistent way. Whether delivering your message online, through direct mail, or in person, consistency is key for successful funeral home branding.
One key to consistency is ensuring imagery is similar across your funeral home’s marketing. For starters, consider the following:
- Use consistent font combinations – choose a font that is both legible and fits with your overall branding
- Apply a consistent color palette – pull colors from your brand logo to further maximize consistency
- Ensure your logo is on all consumer-facing marketing/branding – consistent logo placement ensures branding that is easily recognizable to families
- Use consistent photos or pictures – the photos or pictures you use in your marketing materials or online should be similar in style for consistency
This next tip for consistency revolves around your brand’s tone of voice and word choice in written messaging. Being consistent with verbiage requires your funeral home to find your brand’s voice. This is the heart and soul of your communications and encompasses word choice, prose styles, tone, and more.
Deciding on a consistent tone of voice is important because:
- It’s an expression of the people behind your funeral home brand
- It sets your funeral home apart from the rest
- It helps build trust
- It can be used to influence decisions
Take a look at your funeral home’s value system and competitive advantage in order to decide on your brand voice. This will guide all facets of your branding, and make sure messaging is consistent from channel to channel. Learn more about finding your brand’s voice.
Tip #4: Ensure consistent social media messaging
In recent years, social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and more have evolved into incredibly powerful marketing solutions that, if used correctly, can have a big impact on your bottom line. This is why we’ve made the case that funeral homes need to make social media marketing a part of their advertising strategies, given the increasingly high number of older users frequenting these sites. Consumers now expect businesses to be present on social media, with 91% claiming they won’t do business with companies using outdated technology. Your families expect this same modernity.
Being on social media gives your funeral home another touch point to reach families with your brand message. If your funeral home currently uses social media or if you are thinking of starting, don’t forget about this message! This is not to say that every single marketing outlet (print, social, digital, in-home, etc.) should use the same format or wording. But you want your overall message to be a consistent one that supports your funeral home mission, branding, and marketing strategy. The best part? Maintaining a social presence doesn’t need to take more than 10 minutes of your day.
Goal: Create an emotional connection
Tip #5: Show your brand personality through your funeral home website
Website branding goes beyond just your name, logo, and slogan. Your website is one of the best tools you have to express your brand personality online. Consider the following ways to personalize your funeral home website to reach a deeper emotional connection with families:
Include nearby landmarks or scenery:
Below are examples of two Frazer Consultants website customers that incorporate images of nearby landmarks and landscapes into their funeral home website to create a deeper emotional connection with the local community they serve. Brown-Oglesby Funeral Home’s website displays the city’s mountainous and lake terrain while Eggleston Meinert & Pavley artfully displays an image of the bridge which has become an icon of the town in which the funeral home resides.
Incorporate your logo into the design
Another Frazer Consultants website customer – Kitching, Steepe & Ludwig Funeral Home – loved the purple flower in their logo and wanted to carry the color and imagery throughout the website. The Frazer team built a custom website around the funeral home’s logo image, creating a more consistent look and feel. Learn more about Kitching, Steepe & Ludwig’s funeral home website transformation.
By sticking to a common color scheme, tone, and style throughout each piece of your branding, you will create an image that is more memorable for families in your community.
Showcase your funeral home or staff on the front page
Create a deeper emotional connection with the community you serve by placing your funeral home and staff visibly on your website. This gives families searching for the right funeral home a way to get to know your home without even coming on-site or meeting your staff.
Frazer customer Cutler-O’Neill | Meyer-Woodring Funeral Home accomplished this by prominently displaying a photo of their funeral home on the home page. Similarly, Grose Funeral Home introduced site visitors to funeral directors and other staff members in a slideshow picture also on the home page of their Frazer-powered website.
Goal: Build credibility and trust
Tip #6: Personalize your email address domain
Generic email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail and others suffice for personal email use. But to take professional funeral home branding to the next level, a personalized email address is imperative.
Instead of utilizing a generic host for your email – i.e. email@example.com – personalize your email by getting email addresses at your website domain, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.
Setting up a custom email address domain is easy and goes a long way with guests and families in your community. Those that receive emails from your firm will immediately recognize your company and appreciate the professional touch.
Tip #7: Start a blog
If your funeral home has the bandwidth, consider starting a blog. Not only does blogging help for SEO (search engine optimization), but positions your funeral home as a credible and trustworthy source for funeral-related news and information. Understanding the busy schedules of funeral directors and staff, maintaining a funeral home blog doesn’t need to require a significant amount of time or energy. Instead, your blog should reflect a compilation of knowledge and passion your staff already possesses for funeral and aftercare-related topics.
If you’re struggling with writer’s block, check out these blog prompts to help get your creative juices flowing.
Goal: Ensure customer loyalty
Tip #8: Stay consistent with in-home branding
Don’t forget about in-home branding! Your funeral home is the most important advertising tool you own and should be unmistakable to your families. Any messaging, taglines, logos, colors, etc. apparent on your website, social channels, blog, marketing materials and other branding touch points should be reflected inside your funeral home as well.
Consistent colors, designs, and messaging
Carry the same colors, designs, and verbiage throughout your home to maintain a consistent look and feel. Use paint that reflects your branding color palette, signage that is in-line with existing print or website designs, and verbiage that is consistent with your brand voice discussed earlier in this article.
Involve your staff
By involving your entire staff in branding your funeral home, you can ensure you won’t miss a beat throughout the process.
Train your staff on any messaging around your competitive advantage, make sure they know your brand voice, and walk them through your intended target audience.
Take branding even further by establishing a dress code your staff must follow. Select a color scheme or style your staff must wear for more consistency throughout your home. As an example, staff at a funeral home in our area coordinate their clothing for cohesive branding – women wear a purple skirt and black top, and men wear a purple dress shirt and black tie. They also wear name tags branded with their funeral home logo.
If you have any questions about how to boost your funeral home’s branding, give us a call at 866-372-9372, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat!