Tuning in to Today’s Families: How to Engage Your Community and Grow Profitability in a Digital Marketplace

Have you ever played “Name that Tune”? My family loves to play that game. I remember one time, back in 2006, we were playing “Name that Tune” to the 80’s hit songs that were playing on a satellite television station over this really new and cool theatre surround sound system. I hadn’t heard many of these songs, but there was one song that started playing, and I knew that I knew it. It was just on the tip of my tongue! You probably know it without even having to think about it. Here it goes:

“…Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust…”

For the life of me, I just couldn’t come up with the name of the song or artist. Now I know that it was “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. Of course! It only says the title in the song 400 times.

Let’s flash forward a decade. Today, my family still likes to play “Name that Tune” when we get together. Only now, I connect my iPhone7 via Bluetooth to a state-of-the-art sound system and play my 80’s playlist on Spotify. When a song comes on that I don’t know, I just ask Siri to name it for me! Doesn’t that count as Phone-a-Friend? (I say it does).

You might be wondering, what does a Queen song have to do with the funeral industry? Well, first of all, technology is completely integrated into our way of life now. In just ten years, we have gone from carrying flip phones to carrying supercomputers in the palms of our hands. Dozens of industries have been disrupted in the process. Video rentals and book sales were the first to be disrupted. Cable television is not far behind. It is evident that the preferences of our customer base have changed along with technology. In order to stay relevant, we have no choice but to adapt to this changing consumer…in other words, if we refuse to adapt, you guessed it…another industry will bite the dust.

In order to stay relevant in this marketplace, we have to be able to “tune in” to what our families are expecting from us. We have to interact with them on a digital level. We can’t just keep doing things “like we have always done them.” That is a recipe for disaster. So, how can you engage with more families on a digital level? Here are a few ideas that will help you grow and succeed in a rapidly changing marketplace:
1. Embrace Multi-Media Marketing
Quality multi-media marketing (videos, commercials, social media, email, etc.) helps families connect with you in new and meaningful ways. Did you know that 84.9% of baby boomers and seniors age 50-82 are on Facebook? I think it’s about time the funeral industry starts embracing social media!

2. Use a Great CRM System
Have your requests for help ever been ignored by a company? I bet you never went back and told all your friends about your bad experience. Well, the same thing happens when someone who is interested in working with your funeral home never receives a call back. The answer? A customer relationship management system (CRM). In its simplest form, a CRM system will help you and your preneed sales team manage, organize, and keep track of the families that are interested in making their prearrangement plans with you. This allows you to follow up with families who are interested in your firm in an organized and professional manner. No one falls through the cracks.

3. Google Yourself
You better believe that today’s families are going online and researching you and your funeral home! In the past, information about you and your funeral home was all word of mouth or news in a newspaper. Now, tons of information is at their fingertips with a press of a button on their smartphones or tablets. Google yourself and see what comes up. (Go ahead. I’ll wait…) This is what families are seeing. Now is the time to differentiate yourself online. Create the best-looking website you can, provide high quality information to consumers, provide transparency with pricing. Clarity always trumps cloudy information!

4. Ditch Your Pen and Paper
Do you think today’s consumer wants to see a funeral director or sales professional pull out a pen and a paper contract and start filling out paperwork, or do you think they would want to be interacted with in a more digital fashion? I think by now you know the answer to this question. A digital application process saves time and allows you to serve that family at a much higher level. And what about streamlining the at-need experience? Look for ways to interact with families online to make the experience more convenient for them. Some families prefer to interact through text, phone calls, and email. There are also software solutions available to help you collaborate with staff and family members to save time and streamline the planning process. This is next-level service that funeral consumers now expect from us!

5. Be There to Support the Sale
We have found that close to 30% of our claims come from non-originating funeral homes, meaning that the funeral home who wrote the original preneed never received the claim funds in 30% of cases. But when you consider how little communication a family typically receives after purchasing a preneed from a funeral home, it is really not that surprising. I actually don’t know of any other industry that virtually ignores a customer that just spent $5,000-$10,000 with them. The same is true on the at-need side. Most of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the process of aftercare and how it can benefit the families that you have served. Yet, most funeral homes that have an aftercare program are still using a paper system as opposed to email, which is just as effective and much less expensive. Creating an email list that you send occasional messages to is one option (we automate this process for our customers for both at-need and preneed families). Having a strong email database also helps you in other areas of marketing. Are you about to hold a seminar or lunch & learn? Shoot an email blast to your database. Keeping in contact by email just makes sense, and it is absolutely expected by today’s families.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I’m guessing you agree with me that it’s high time we in the funeral industry start communicating digitally with the families that we are serving. I can almost guarantee that if you choose to ramp up your digital presence and services, you’ll be humming that Queen song as your competitors ignore the digital needs of customers and become less and less relevant year after year. FBA

Drew Seale, Director of Sales Innovation with Funeral Directors Life. As Director of Sales Innovation, Drew has been instrumental in the management and distribution of technology services to Funeral Directors Life’s client base. Drew is a graduate of Baylor University and comes from a family of dedicated funeral professionals. He is passionate about helping funeral home clients connect in new and meaningful ways with families in their communities. Specializing in the “how to” of digital marketing and communication, Drew helps funeral clients leverage email marketing, social media, web media, and CRM software to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. Drew’s unique perspective will help funeral professionals imagine the possibilities of creating a consistent, integrated marketing strategy that will help them reach families they have never reached before.

By | 2017-03-10T14:14:23+00:00 March 10th, 2017|Editorial|Comments Off on Tuning in to Today’s Families: How to Engage Your Community and Grow Profitability in a Digital Marketplace

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