7 Actionable Ideas

A successful marketing effort requires a combination of theory and actionable ideas. We have discussed the theoretical aspects of marketing over the last several months, so I thought it would be timely to offer seven ( 7 ) actionable ideas. These ideas can be implemented to augment your current marketing efforts or to chart a new marketing course for your funeral home or cemetery.

  1. The power of radio. As marketers, we tend to gravitate towards the newspaper as a first choice, however, research indicates that consumers are spending less time with this medium. The average consumer spends only 10% of their media day with print and 44% with radio. Radio enables you to target a specific audience and because of its affordability, reach that audience with enough frequency to attain positive results. Of course, the creative content of your commercials is ultimately what will make the difference. Radio, as with any other medium, requires a specific call to action. Tell the listener what you want them to do in no uncertain terms, in other words, "pick up the phone and call today for your free information kit with no obligation" Another possibility that radio offers is the PI ( per inquiry ). Ask your radio rep about a PI which is essentially a campaign scheduled by the station based on availability and paid for by you each time your phone rings.
  2. Let someone else tell your story. The use of testimonials is not a novel idea in the marketing world. But the use of satisfied customers telling others about the benefits of pre-planning, for example, goes a long way towards credibility and validation of your company. We recently ran a television campaign highlighting three individuals who had pre-planned with our company. Of course, there was a call to action at the end of the commercial. The results were incredible with hundreds of phone calls in a relatively short period of time. Remember, the responsibility of media outlets is to drive prospects to your business, but it's up to you to make the sale. By the way, if you are going to make a television buy, look at off peak times with the your television rep as prime time can be cost prohibitive.
  3. Seminar Series. A critical part of our marketing efforts at Mount Royal Commemorative Services involve educating the public. In the last couple of years, we have created a Seminar Series which is a portable seminar that can take place at a house of worship, seniors association, or civic group. The seminar includes three experts ... one notary to discuss the importance of a will, an estate planer, and on of our pre-planning counsellors. It is important to gather the names of the attendees so that you can follow up with them in the future. Comprehensive final arrangements involve more than just funeral and cemetery pre-planning. Last year, we did approximately 45 seminars throughout the city resulting in a substantial amount of revenue.
  4. Follow up. Most marketers do an excellent job in targeting new prospects for their business. However, many ignore the database of prospects that have expressed an interest, yet have not made a decision to purchase. More than half of the consumers that request information from your business will eventually buy, but that's only if you maintain consistent contact with them. All advertising leads should be placed in a database so that they can be systematically followed. The follow up can be in several forms including newsletters, phone calls, personalized notes, or email. Statistics indicate that 80% of all sales are made after the 5th point of contact, therefore, it is imperative that we stay front and center in the mind of our consumer / prospect.
  5. Advertising is the wind. PR is the sun. The value of public relations has increased dramatically over the last decade. An article in the newspaper or an appearance on a popular radio show has greater value than a simple advertisement. Create events that are unique in the market and will attract the attention of the consumer. Today's consumer is inundated with approximately 3,000 advertising messages daily, so if you are not being different, you're in trouble. In a book called "Differentiate or Die" by Jack Trout, you can read about survival in an era of killer competition. Over the last several years we have done the following...
    • Open air gospel choir concert
    • Shakespeare in the Park presentation
    • Cultural music event
    • Jazz concert in our new chapel
    • Historical walking tours
    • Art exhibition
    • Sunday brunch pre-planning seminars
    • Crematorium tour
  6. Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don't know which half. - JOHN WANAMAKER
    Advertising without tracking the results is an exercise in futility. The vast majority of business owners have absolutely no idea if their marketing efforts are delivering results. According to the Wizard of Ads, the waste in marketing is anywhere from 50 – 90%. Given that knowledge, it is essential that we attempt to analyze our marketing efforts so that we can maintain what's working and get rid of what is not. How do we track results? There are several ways and it depends to a great degree on your advertising objectives. If your goal is to get the phone to ring, use different numbers with different media outlets. Or, use the same basic message and theme in all of your advertising, but promote a specific benefit that is unique to each media. Finally, a somewhat less scientific method is to ask prospects when they call or come to your cemetery or funeral home.
  7. It's what you say. Although it is important to target your advertising, and maintain enough frequency over time, the essence of your success or failure will be based on what you say in your ad. Avoid cliches, funeral sounding music in the background, and spending too much time on your company. Focus on the benefits to the consumer; a good ad is about the consumer, a bad ad is about the advertiser. Use a two step approach as opposed to an approach that says "call us in a time of need" By offering a free information kit and educating the consumer, you will position your company as being different from the rest.