If you are like many funeral homes, chances are you are not the only firm in your community.
In this increasingly consumer-driven market, it is important to stay on top of trends in the funeral profession, as well as occasionally shake up how you do business in order to meet and exceed the needs of families in your area.
Below, find four ways to stand out in your local funeral home market, boost local funeral home awareness, and rise above your local competition. For each of these strategies, it is important to consider your target market — i.e. who you are trying to reach. Most funeral homes will want to target the 55+ crowd, as they are more likely to be thinking about end-of-life plans as well as preplan their or a loved one’s funeral. Do research into the media they consume, what events they attend, and where you can catch them with your message.
Let’s begin with the first way to boost local awareness of your funeral home: Engaging the community.
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Engage the Community
There is no better way to meet and interact with potential client families in your community than by hosting free community events at your funeral home facility. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Free Lunch and Learn Seminars – Lunch and learns are a great way to grow awareness and only require as much time, resources, and effort as your funeral home can bear. Depending on your staff’s bandwidth, these can consist of weekly, monthly, or even quarterly group sessions inside your funeral home where members of the community can join you over a catered lunch and learn more about your services. You might want to consider the following topics for your lunch and learn sessions:
- Benefits of advanced planning
- Options for cremation or burial
- Tips for healthy grieving
At the sessions, make sure your staff is equipped with pamphlets and other pertinent information about your services, but allow the community to direct the flow of conversation. Keep sessions informal so people will feel more comfortable asking questions and sharing stories. A relaxed atmosphere can even help lighten the stigma associated with death and the funeral profession, and guests will leave with positive memories of your home.
Holiday Remembrance Services – Funeral homes generally hold holiday remembrance services at the end of the year – typically the first or second weekend in December. These special services serve as a way for your funeral home to reconnect with families you’ve served throughout the year and allow friends and families to commemorate loved ones during the often difficult holiday season.
For more information on planning and hosting a holiday remembrance program, click here.
Consider the following local advertising strategies for your funeral home:
Newspaper – For many, especially those in the 55+ crowd, newspaper readership remains high. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, in 2014 40% of those ages 55-64 and 52% of those ages 65+ read the newspaper daily. Consider purchasing an ad spot in your local newspaper and advertising your key differentiator — perhaps your pre-planning options, personalized care, superior service, or more.
As an alternative option, contact your local newspaper and inquire about opportunities for being featured in an article, especially if you are hosting or sponsoring an upcoming event.
Local Event Sponsorship – On the topic of hosting or sponsoring events, doing so can help get your funeral home’s name in front of families as a caring and involved local business. Being present at community events – especially those your target market is likely to attend – will help boost awareness of your home and even give you the opportunity to meet potential client families.
Look for the following events happening in your community that you could either sponsor or attend:
- Veterans Memorial events
- Fire or Police Department breakfasts
- Community festivals or celebrations
- Events at the local hospice or nursing home
Local Facebook advertising – Facebook organic (i.e. non-paid) reach continues to fall, reaching as low as 6% this year. In other words, if your funeral home has 1,000 fans, and you publish a post without paying to boost it, only 60 fans will see your Facebook post. This does not mean, that the remaining 900+ would simply ignore your post. With Facebook’s algorithm, only 60 would even have the potential for it to show up in their Newsfeed.
Unfortunately, Facebook has turned into a platform where it is necessary to pay for messages you want your fans to see. Luckily, Facebook allows you to serve ads to a defined, local target market based on:
The next time you publish a post that you hope many of your fans see, consider putting some money behind it to increase reach. Even $5 can make a huge difference. Click here for more information on advertising with Facebook.
Boost Local SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is the algorithmic science that determines why one page appears above another when you enter a query into sites like Google or Bing. Make an effort to boost your local SEO to ensure your website appears at or closer to the top of search results when potential client families search for funeral homes in your area.
We could write a novel on how to improve your local SEO, but for time’s sake, we will try to provide a short list of action items you can try today.
The first thing your funeral home should do if you haven’t already done so is to add and verify your listing on Google. This will help boost your website listing to the top of search results, and help potential client families find the information they are looking for, faster. Click here to get started today.
Additionally, it is important to practice good on-page SEO. This means, optimizing your website with keywords that will help you rise to the top of local search queries. Make sure the name of your city as well as nearby communities appears strategically on your site, especially in the following locations:
- Page headers – The larger, often bolded headers of each page
- Title tags – the phrases that appear at the top of your browser window or tab when you open a new web page
- Footer – the information given at the bottom of your website
- Keywords – words or phrases found within the content of your pages.
Have the Best Website in the Area!
If your funeral home isn’t the only option for local families, you will want to be sure to differentiate yourself online where people are looking for more information.
Start by conducting an audit of your competitors’ funeral home websites. Try to remain as impartial as possible as you compare your competitors’ sites to your own.
Questions you might ask during the audit include:
- What do the websites look like?
- Are they customized to local surroundings?
- When were they last updated? (Hint, check the copyright line at the bottom)
- Is the design sleek and modern?
- What technology do they boast?
- Is the obituary wall interactive?
- Do they offer online sympathy flower ordering?
- What pre-planning tools are included with the websites
- How much information do they include about product and service offerings?
- Are the sites easy to navigate?
An estimated 80% of consumers say they will leave a website if it appears outdated. If you find that your funeral home’s website falls short in any of the above categories, consider finding a funeral home website provider to modernize and fully customize your website to your fit your firm’s needs.