Let’s take a break. Let’s not talk about social media. Let’s not even think about it. Let’s shut down and go offline. Let’s take a few minutes and think about storytelling.

Every moment of our lives is a story. All of our habits, our customs, our culture; it’s all based on stories. Stories are the heart and soul of every human experience. The good and bad, the best of times and the worst: we have stories for everything. And we will continue to create and recreate, revise, and improvise stories until the end of our time. We cannot get away from storytelling because we live it.

Humans are entrenched in stories. We crave them. And because we need stories, storytellers, in whatever form, wield great power. As Plato indicates, “Those who tell the stories rule our society.” This power is particularly advantageous for you. You spend your day listening to stories and in turn, providing your clientele with a story about your home and the services and products you offer, providing examples of how these things can be used and the positive outcome of your client’s choices. Your stories reassure. They soothe. They are confident and at the same time, hopeful.

The other stories you tell are also advantageous. Not everyone purchases a casket. Not everyone wants memorial jewelry. Not everyone wants a funeral. But everyone gets an obituary. It’s a service which is already built-in to your system, so utilize the obituary to its fullest. This doesn’t mean only posting it up on your website and letting it linger into perpetuity. Instead, let the obituary work for you: use it as a tool to naturally accomplish those other tasks which take both time and money. In every obituary, you have a marketing force, one that is more impactful and reaches farther than any marketing service you can purchase. You must, however, put that story to good use and then, let others share it to your benefit.

The number of people browsing obituaries has not decreased. However, these people are only actually reading and remembering the obituaries which give them a story, the ones which contextualize a life. Setting up your obituaries to get a thorough read is as simple as including a photo, beginning with an interesting quote, or adding a few simple details like the deceased’s favorite book, film, or music: anything to distract from the litany of surviving relatives. Keep this in mind, people won’t be interested in the surviving relatives if they aren’t first interested in the person who died. You must capture your reader’s attention. Think of it this way, if your home is producing the one thing which markets your home more than anything else and producing that one thing like every other home in the United States, then people will come to think of your home as every other home. To separate yourself from the pack, to gain an avid and active audience, you must differentiate yourself. Do it with your most publicized story: the obituary.

Just as in the film, “If you build it, he will come.” Your readership, your clicks, your likes, whatever it is that you use to measure your marketing success, will increase, even if you continue to post in the same manner, but only if you use material that is more content-rich, like a nuanced obituary. Your metrics will increase because stories are compelling and people cannot help but pass them on, remember them, and continue sharing them. In this way, your audience also becomes your most influential marketing force.

Humans are drawn to stories, so draw people to you through the stories you create. Become the master storyteller who regales his audience and commands his community by authoring narratives people find compelling. You can do this by creating obituaries which are more than an elongated death notice, by taking those life stories and getting them to as many people as possible in a manner people find most convenient, which is not searching for them online and landing on a page which isn’t even your website. When traditional obituaries are enhanced, and leveraged efficiently with technology, research indicates these new memorials can generate buzz which impacts thousands, beckoning potential clientele to your door, growing your brand awareness, increasing your word-of-mouth referrals, and driving your pre- and at-need sales up exponentially. FBA

Petra Lina Orloff is president and CEO of Beloved, which produces custom, personalized, handcrafted obituaries and eulogies. She has been a professional writer for over 20 years and also completed the PhD program in English at Wayne State University in Detroit, where she taught literature and cultural studies. Her academic area of specialty is storytelling. You may contact her at [email protected] or at (248) 894-7076, or visit www.beloved-press.com.