I’ve lived a long and full life filled with many adventures, a few regrets and a large family that I’ve seen grow up over the years. As I get ready to move onto the next stage I’m looking for a funeral home that can assist me and my family with the process of journeying into the great beyond. It will be a difficult time when it arrives. Tears will be shed (they’d better). My funeral home in shining armor should be professional, knowledgeable, full of resources to help my family with laying me to rest and most importantly caring and patient.

Are you the one I’m looking for? If so contact me and we can start with a conversation that can hopefully turn into a long-term relationship for my family and any loved ones who will be buried after me.

While this personals ad is light-hearted in nature it underscores the unspoken requests and desires families have when searching for funeral homes with preened services. This is a crucial time where you can start a potentially long- term relationship with a family since they are often generational using the same firm to bury their grandparents, parents and other close relatives.

Preened is like any other revenue stream for a firm, it needs a system branded to your funeral home echoing the unforgettable and comforting experience families will have when the time arrives. However, since it is a marketing system, it must have a budget, be planned, tracked and adjusted in order to make sure new business streams in on it’s own.

To plan a preened service marketing program properly you have to understand how a lead generation funnel works and what you need to have in place in terms of marketing and collateral at each stage to eventually close the sale.

Top Level: Pain
Understand that at this beginning stage your target is experiencing a pain which has generated their search for preened services. How far in advance are they planning? What media and sources are they using for their search? Who are they going to for assistance in their search? When you have a thorough understanding of their pain points and how they go about finding someone to ease that pain makes the next stage much easier.

Level 2: Awareness
Equipped with a thorough knowledge of their pain points you can provide information that shows you’re the best funeral home to address their pain in the best way. It necessitates ensuring your branding and marketing materials are where they are. It seems obvious, but you can’t get new business if they can’t find you. Therefore ask, where is my target at varying points throughout the day, week, month and year? As you do that your marketing collateral will be within a short reach of where they are. But don’t expect your phone to ring off the hook right away.

Level 3: Compare
No matter how good of a salesman you are people will always compare you with others. Most of the time they have done this before even calling. At this stage your marketing needs to give them a reason to come back after comparing you to others. Note though, that while the family thinks they are comparing apples to apples, your marketing should not position you that way. You’re marketing should clearly differentiate you from others, in fact, superior to your peers and competitors which gives the family reason to call you back clear that you’re the significant partner they’ve been searching for. When they do call or inquire in order to close the sale you need to do one more thing.

Level 4: Validate & Assure
Since we’re talking thousands of dollars with preened services people will always be leery with parting with large sums of cash, especially considering this is where the horror stories of our industry stem from. You know those stories of firms that have taken a sweet old seniors money and run off to Tahiti leaving the family high and dry when they actually pass. Therefore, what can you do as a firm to reduce risk and provide assurance that you’ll be ready and eager to fulfill all the promises you’ve made when the time arrives 3, 5, 10 years later when they actually pass away? When you’ve effectively communicated that you’ve closed the sale it’s time to get down to business.

Level 5: Delight
Now that you’ve made promises which are backed by a tried and true system allowing you to deliver effectively, what else can you do to delight the family that will meet and exceed their expectations? Since preened funds are held in escrow there’s always the chance that they could have buyer’s remorse or jump ship. Thus, along the way you must continually “touch” the family through your branding so that they’re continually assured that they made the right call and there’s no need to look anywhere else. When the fateful day arrives they will be delighted at your level of service and care and are ready to share their unforgettable experience with others.

Level 6: Share
While people are ready to share their story of how you comforted them and gave them an experience of a lifetime very few will go out of their way to toot your horn. Thus, you need to empower them to share. That means actually creating and providing the tools they need to advertise your funeral home to others. There are many ways to do this from reviews to referral cards. What you need to accomplish at this stage is to be able to capture their story so you can use it to enhance your firms’ reputation and market it. When you do this make sure it’s accessible for potential families to view thereby giving them more reason to choose your funeral home over others.

In discussing your preened marketing program I purposefully left out specific tools and tactics you will need to avail yourselves of because it’s more important to focus on the objective of the program and addressing the pain points of your families. As you do that the tools you need to accomplish this objective will become apparent.

Lastly, it is important to have are benchmarks for each level of the process. Having benchmarks to meet at each level gives you the ability to track and adjust any issues that would hinder a family from moving all the way down the lead generation funnel and choose another funeral home over you.

With a solid preened marketing program in place families will see clearly that you are the charming, caring funeral home poised and ready for an amazing long-term relationship. FBA

George Paul III is the Principal and Founder of Cherished Keepsakes, an award-winning provider of memorial keepsakes such as prayer cards, memorial programs, photo collages and more. Their innovative designs have been sought after by families and funeral homes across the country. Cherished Keepsakes is the in-house brand of GP3 Creative, a branding and strategy firm. George has a Bachelor’s degree in Design from Northeastern University. With over 15 years of experience in branding, strategy, marketing and design George has helped companies reach their business goals by providing them a strong brand image and strategic growth plan. He has written, lectured, exhibited and held workshops regarding branding and design. He currently oversees the creative and strategic direction of GP3 Creative and its in-house brands. To contact George, email [email protected] or phone 617-971-8590.