Archive for the ‘Funeral Home Marketing’ Category

What is Value?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Lately I have been struggling with the word “value”. We have been born in interesting times where everything changes. As soon as you buy the new “must have” it is instantly out of date. You drive a brand new car off the dealer’s lot and its value has depreciated by thousands of dollars. If so much is changing so quickly, where do we find value in what we buy for either our businesses or ourselves?  How do we know we are giving a solid value to our families with our services? What products or services can a service business comfortably purchase? Are we so used to helping others that we forget that there are services to help us.

This question of value caused me to search for the definition of value in the dictionary – on the Internet. I realized I did not own a hard copy dictionary anymore. Clearly, I do not see the value in keeping one on hand. I went to http://dictionary.reference.com/ and this is what it said:

  1. An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.
  2. Monetary or material worth: the fluctuating value of gold and silver.
  3. Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
  4. A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable: “The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility” (Jonathan Alter). (more…)

The Love We Shared

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Question: I am a new funeral director and I was wondering if you have any advice you can give me on how to relate to older people. My grandparents passed away when I was young and my parents are still living. How do I connect to a generation that  is foreign to me?

Answer:

Great question! By connecting to your families– as I have stated in other articles — a funeral becomes much more meaningful to them. To your families this funeral is all about them. It is about the loved one they have lost. Your families are trying to remember the connections they had to their loved ones. They want that relationship and that person’s life to have meant something that goes beyond death. There are a few ways to go about establishing rapport with your families that show them you care.

Talk about the loved one:  Before you conduct any business matters ask the family to tell you about the loved one they have just lost. What is their greatest memory? What is something they will always remember about their loved one? Were they a hunter? Did they enjoy the outdoors? Perhaps this person made beautiful quilts or knit. Listen to what the family has to say and then pick out nuggets of information and suggest you incorporate what you have learned into the service. For example, if the loved one was loved to fish the family could bring in some fishing poles or put a picture of that person fishing on the cover of the funeral program.

Ask the family before proceeding: As you are going through the funeral planning ask the family before proceeding to the next phase if they are comfortable talking about this section of the funeral arrangements. For example, many people do not want to go into the casket selection room. Mentally it is too hard on them to have had their husband/wife/parent living the night before and today they are putting them in a casket. Asking shows consideration for their loss. It shows that you care. If they are not comfortable show them a picture in a book or suggest you pick one out for them. Perhaps they would like to come back the next day to make a selection, or suggest cremation.

Share stories that relate: Share your stories that relate to their stories. If you had a friend who died who loved to fish you could share that story. However, be aware that it is not helpful for you to talk about your own personal problems to the family. Remember, this is first and foremost about them, not about you.

Touch the families: It is okay to shake hands, give hugs, and pats on the back. People know then that you care. When you greet people it is an okay to gently and briefly touch them. Some older men feel most comfortable with a handshake. Women are okay with hugs from other ladies and handshakes from the men. It is a judgment call. The most important thing is if you are comfortable with it they will know you mean it.

I would suggest you visit some seniors at senior living places. Many people are lonely and would love the company. You can get to know about their lives and what interests people in that age category. You might surprise yourself and find out how much you enjoy the visit too!

Understanding Our Own Deaths

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Question:  Have you ever had one of those moments when a realization hits you square between the eyes? I was talking to a family about their loss when I realized I personally was uncomfortable about the thought of my own death. If I am not comfortable with my own death will this somehow come across to my families?

Answer:  Thank you for writing to me about a topic of such importance! The answer is “yes”! If you are not comfortable with the subject of your own passing your unease will come across to the families you serve on some level. Our own death is a subject that is rarely discussed in our society. Those who attend religious services find that this topic may be addressed from time-to-time–otherwise we seldom think about it. Examining your beliefs regarding what happens to you after you die is not only good for yourself but for your families. Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Why am I uneasy with my own death? Some people may have had a traumatic experience as a child. Perhaps your family never discussed death with you. Or, maybe your belief system shines a more fearful light on death. It is a good to get an understanding of why you are uneasy with death because then you can move forward to accept it. (more…)

Do You Own Your Domain Name?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Have you ever heard that things come in three’s?  This week three different times I found myself discussing the ins and outs of domain name ownership. Domain names are tricky little buggers and the process can get confusing. To help clear up some questions here are some things you need to know.

First you must determine if you own your domain name. Just because a domain name has been used on your website does not mean you own it. You only own your domain name if the registrant is listed under your name. Just this week a person I was speaking too was upset (and rightly so) because he found out his previous website vendor had registered his domain name in the name of the website company. The vendor was holding his domain name hostage and did not want to turn it over to the owner of the business. The business owner was flabbergasted. He said, “I have started this company, I own the company that name should be MINE.” Yes, however, in the eyes of the register companies the person whose name is listed as the owner is the legal owner. Period. The only way around this issue is if your business name is trademarked. Then the person who holds your domain name has to sell it back to you at cost. (more…)

How Would You Rate Your Funeral Home?

Friday, January 11th, 2013

When Renee lost her little girl, the funeral director she chose for the service brought her books about loss that he selected specifically for Renee and her children. This kind, caring man proceeded to tell Renee that the outpouring of support from her church and community was so immense that everything would be taken care of. In the months that followed her tragedy, he called to check in on Renee and her family. When she ran into him a year later at a school sporting event, he threw his arms around her and asked how she and each of her other children (whom he called by name) were doing.

Renee’s experience was exemplary, but not everyone has the same kind of compassionate care. We recently asked on our Facebook page at facebook.com/mygriefsupport “How was your grieving experience affected by the care you received at your funeral home?” Here were some of the responses.

When Therese’s son died, she was met at the door by an efficient but cold man, whose first words to her were, “And what was your son’s name?” After she managed to choke out her response, she was led directly to the caskets in the back of the funeral home where she was instructed to pick one out. (more…)

Grief Support Makes a Difference

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Question: Does grief support really make a difference? Our funeral home is trying to decide how we can help. However, we are not grief therapists. Is it our place to help people grieve after the loss of a loved one?

Answer:  People on Beyond Indigo tend to be vocal about grief support and their needs. One was brought to our attention years ago when someone told us, “Where were you eight months ago when mom died? Why weren’t your services offered at our funeral home?”  Thus we suggested to funeral home owners that offering grief support at the time of need was a great idea — especially when our members were telling us this is what they wanted!

Grief support is necessary and it does make a difference. We had a member write in:

“I believe this site saved my marriage, quite possibly even my life, but most definitely my sanity. Lasting friendships have been made and I have learned so much about people. Sooner or later everyone will be touched by death, having a website like this where you can direct someone is just a God-send. Kelly, thank you ever so much.”

What worked for her? We have found that people need a place to find out that they are: (more…)

Getting Through the Holidays

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The holiday season is a warmly anticipated time for many of us, but after a profound loss, it can be extremely difficult. We asked members of our Facebook page (facebook.com/mygriefsupport) “How hard are the upcoming holidays on you? Do you do anything in memory of your lost loved one?”

Susannah started a new tradition. “We hang a new, special ornament, on our tree for our daughter,” she said. “This will be our fourth Christmas without her. The first year was unbearable, but each year got a bit softer.”

Debbie recalled that first tough year. “I had decided not to put up a tree for the first time in my life the first Christmas after losing my daughter and grandson six years ago,” she said. “But I was in the parking lot of a shopping center, and they were giving away free trees. My friend encouraged me to take one, and I did. It was the best thing I could have done because my home looked like it had always done during the season. I realized, too, how important it was for my surviving child, my son, who was also grieving and suffering deeply, to be able to feel that we were going to continue our family traditions. We have lovely ornaments dedicated to them, and I always take out the cards I received from them throughout the years, which makes me feel they are still connecting. The season will never be the same without them, but we are now able to enjoy and create new memories, especially with my two-year-old granddaughter, who is a precious gift to us all.”

Rachel said, “[M]y son’s death day is right around Thanksgiving (next year it will fall on Thanksgiving Day), and his birthday is two days after Christmas. His dad, sister and I always have a place at the holiday tables for him, and we always will remember him.”

Other suggestions for surviving the holidays include volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, traveling, and adopting new traditions. Would you like to add your own thoughts or reflections into this conversation? If so, please visit our Grieving.com forums and Facebook.com/mygriefsupport.

Content – Treat It Like Royalty

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Yawn—content is so boring, right? Why should we care about content? Throw a few words up on the page, call it good, and move on. Hold on! Not so fast. Content is the star player in any online marketing program. Key functions of content are:

  1. Search Engine Optimization Placement: Content plays a major role in how/where your website is placed on Google. In February 2011, Google made a change to its algorithm, emphasizing high-quality content as a key search engine optimization requirement. This change was called Panda. Bottom line—template content is out and original content http://www.beyondfunerals.com/blog/2012/10/content-–-trea…t-like-royaltyis now “in.”
  2. Education: As consumers, we know about cars, food products, cleaning products, and beer because of the amount of advertising we have seen on these subjects. However, we know minuscule amounts of information about funeral homes and their services and why we should pay for it. We just know as a family member that we “sorta need it.” The job of content is to educate people about what the service is, the benefits of the services, and, frankly, why people should pay to have that service conducted.
  3. Engagement: If the content on your Internet marketing platforms is stale, boring, flat, and so on, then why should the consumer read it? The content needs to be written correctly in the proper style for the platform (website, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, eNewsletter, YouTube, newsletters, and so on) where it is placed, and it needs to ENGAGE the reader. If the content is not compelling, why should the consumer read it and, more importantly, why should they come back?

Placement for Engagement

Multiple times I have been asked: “Can I write the content once and copy and paste it across all my platforms?” No. Resist this urge to write material once, check the box, and just plaster it out there willy-nilly. You will lose your audience. Each platform has its own style and guidelines for the way content should be displayed, the length, and the tone of how it is delivered. Sure, the message across all the platforms can and should be the same, but the exact content in each place needs to be avoided. General guidelines are as follows:

  1. Online Review Areas: Everywhere people can leave you reviews online must be managed and monitored. The content on these pages needs to be accurate and updated on a regular basis. Once a review is left, then a thank you note needs to be given for positive reviews and an educational note placed for a crabby review. Each thank you/educational note needs to be unique to the post and should not be a standard reply.
  2. Website: Most funeral directors websites I see fall down on the job when explaining the services they offer and why people should use them. Website content needs to be 400 to 500 words per page, needs to educate the family member on what the facility does and why they provide those services, and it needs to be optimized (coded) to be found in Google. The content style needs to be informative and educational in nature. Because protocols do not change every week in the funeral home, do not expect to change content about what services you provide on a constant basis. Instead, a blog should be used for weekly educational updates. 
  3. Blog: Confusion reigns over what in the heck a blog is. Think of it as an online magazine that is educational in nature. Resist putting cute updates about the office pet on a blog (those type of updates go on Facebook/social media). Focus on short paragraphs, bullet points, and easy to understand educational topics that are timely. For example, during the holidays would be a post about reaching out to loved ones especially the elderly.
  4. Social Media Platforms: A good framework for the tone and style of social media is a coffee shop. Conversations on social media areas are fun, chit chatty, ongoing conversations with a hint of education thrown in for flavor. Numerous times I have heard funeral directors say they wrote a beautiful article that is educational in nature and are disappointment nobody thought it was useful on Facebook. However, the picture of the office cat doing something cute went viral. The educational piece is great but needs to be placed on a blog. Correct placement is everything with content.

Monitor Its Success

Marketing needs to be monitored to make sure it is generating the results that are desired. Are people engaging with the content? Are they reading it? Is the post/page/tweet being passed to other people? To find out, monitor the statistics. Each platform mentioned above has its own statistics program that is included or can be added to determine the success of the created content. Monitoring, adjusting, and changing the content based on results is an ongoing process—but a necessary one.

“Old” People Aren’t on the Internet, Are They?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

How often have you heard or thought “old” people are not on the Internet? “Old” for this conversation is being defined as someone over the age of 40. Of course “old people” are still using the Yellow Pages, right? Therefore, you don’t need to be marketing on the Internet because your clients don’t use it. However, in reality, people of all ages are on the Internet. Consider these statistics:

  • G.I. Generation (Age74+) — 30% are online
  • Silent Generation (Ages 65–73) — 58% are online
  • Older Boomers (Ages 56–64) — 75% are online
  • Younger Boomers (Ages 46–55) — 81% are online
  • Gen X (Ages 34–45) — 86% are online
  • Millennials (Ages 18–33) — 95% are online

Source: (http://www.sitejabber.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/sjgen.png)

Instead of asking if “old” people are on the Internet, the appropriate question to ask would be: What device and what platform are they using to access the Internet? “Device” can be defined as how one accesses the Internet. This could be through a standalone computer, a laptop, a tablet/device, or a smart phone. Once a person has a device, they have multiple choices, or platforms, of where to search for their information. Think of a Google search, online review sites, websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, eNewsletter, blogs, and so on as various platforms. As a searcher, a person has the luxury of selecting a platform of choice to do all his or her searching. However, a business needs to be found on most, if not all, of the platforms because this is where people are looking for your services.

Another way to look at it is your business needs to be found where people are searching. Your business information needs to be educational in nature and your website needs to be built so it can be viewed on the most popular devices and seen on the current platforms. Questions to ask when reviewing how your business is viewed on devices and platforms are:

Device Check:

  1. Pick up a mobile phone. Do a search for your website. Can it be seen easily or do you have to scroll left and right or top to bottom to find the information you are seeking? Your website needs to be mobile friendly — meaning it can be viewed on a mobile device.
  2. Hold an iPad. Can you see your website on an iPad or are parts of it missing? An iPad/iPhone does not support Flash. Many people are surprised to find out what is missing on their websites when they are viewed on an iPad.

Platform Check:

  1. When doing a search on Google for veterinarians in your city and state (for example, Maple Grove MN veterinarians), is your website found on the first page? If it is, is there a link to your website or does it go to maps.google.com? If maps.google.com is listed instead of your website, how do people then get to your website? What is your score? Is it less then 25? Be aware that Google just changed, and your score is going to determine whether people will click on your Google listing to view your website.
  2. Check your website on IE 7 and above, Safari, and Firefox to see if your website can be viewed and looks the same on every platform. Many times, I have seen beautiful websites built to only one type of browser that look like a train wreck in a different browser.
  3. If you have a Facebook business page, do not count on it being found in the Facebook search, which is rather dismal. Instead, is there a way to go to your Facebook page from ANY page on your website?
  4. If a searcher were looking for your business on YouTube (second largest search engine), Twitter, Pinterest, a blog, or an eNewsletter, would you be found?

Why is this important? Because older people ARE on the Internet — but they just might use it differently than you. My 90-year-old grandmother is on the Internet, but she just chooses to use a standalone computer, and her platform of choice is email. Whereas, my 71-year-old mother uses multiple devices (standalone, laptop, iPad, and iPhone) depending on where she is and what she wants to search. Many of us are this way. We search where we want to search on the platform and device of our choice. So instead of asking the AGE of your audience, ask about what device they are using and where (platform) they are looking when searching for your business or services. Because if you don’t know where people are looking for your business or how, you are literally barking up the wrong tree.

Do you own your domain?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Most people think they own their own domain name but they do not. A quick and easy way to check is to go to www.GoDaddy.com  and type in your domain name in the box in the middle of the page.

Another page will come up saying the domain name is already taken. In tiny letters next to the name it will tell you that you can view the domain’s WHOIS listing. Click this link. GoDaddy then will display the information about the domain name and who owns it. (If multiple requests are made at some point an intermediary page will come requesting that you enter the letters seen in the graphic box. This is a spam filter protection).

Look for the word REGISTRANT. Under or next to this word should be the name of the business or one of the owners name’s. If someone else’s name or business name is listed here then your company does not own its domain name. The company/individual that is listed there owns your domain name instead.

Don’t own your domain name? There are a few options open to you. First, you can ask nicely to have the domain name returned to your ownership. Some companies will say then they can’t manage your domain name without it being in their name. There isn’t anything to manage except to pay the Registrar (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Etc.) when your domain name is about to expire. Another myth that is perpetuated by some website vendors is that they cannot manage your website without being in control of the domain name. This is false. Your domain name should always be in your own name.

If the vendor will not turn over the domain name to you then you need to see if your business name is trademarked. If it is then you have a high chance of getting it back. By law the vendor has to sell your domain name back to your company for cost if certain criteria are met (For more information go to http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/udrp-policy-24oct99.htm). If your business name is not trademarked then the only other recourse you have is through legal action or the selection of a new domain name.