Marketing 103

"Marketing is absolutely every bit of contact your business has with any segment of the public"

When we discuss the subject of marketing, we tend to focus on the advertising component, which is only one part of the overall marketing environment. Marketing encompasses everything from the way your receptionist answers the phone, to the cleanliness of your facility and the sales ability of your counsellors and funeral directors. It also includes the price that you charge for products and services, your location and its convenience, as well as your public and community relations' efforts.

There are two worlds of business. The world outside your door is based on customer perceptions and that is where advertising comes into play. The world inside your door is based on the customer experience; the place where you must deliver on all the bold promises you've made. How well do you deliver on those promises?

Let's take a textbook look at the four P's of marketing.

Product is the obvious tangible, physical articles available for sale such as caskets, urns, and monuments, to name a few. But a product can also be a service thereby including the intangible aspects of your offering such as the way a family is treated, grief counselling, and guidance in the decision making process. Your product should include three key components; improved functionality, convenience, and unique benefits.

Price is simply the amount of money or other consideration that is exchanged for the product. Price is also a quantifiable way of measuring the value that customers place on your product. Being the least expensive won't get you anywhere if the prospect has no confidence to buy. Many times low price actually scares the buyer.

Place is the location of your company or for those who do not have a storefront, the distribution channel of your product to the consumer. Although we have no control over our physical location, we can take our story into the community with innovative marketing strategies that increase our profile in the community that we serve. You must also establish a trading area and focus your marketing efforts in that zone.

Promotional activities range from advertising to public relations to personal selling; the whole spectrum. Advertising takes place in two phases; first the planning and development stage, then through the creation and placement of the advertising messages themselves. Advertising is a way of mass selling. Advertising brings in prospects and salespeople use their skills to turn prospects into buyers. Sales promotions are short-term strategies to give customers incentives to buy.

And public relations are another component of the marketing arena. In a book entitled, "The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR, the author maintains a business should be built on PR and maintained through advertising. Community relations are an essential part of what your company needs to be involved in so that you can continue your growth. At Mount Royal Commemorative Services, we have successfully run a community relations program that has helped us tell our story to over 2,000 consumers this past year.

Our Seminar Series is a panel presentation with three experts in their respective fields. One is a notary who discusses the merits of a notarial will versus a holograph will or a will written in the presence of witnesses. An estate planner highlights the tax implications of estate settling and how to best provide for your family in the event of your death. And our pre-arrangement counsellor extols the merits of pre-planning that include alleviating the burden from your family, planning the funeral that you want, and saving money.

Personal selling is an integral part of the marketing process because it is the point in time where all of your marketing efforts are consummated. At Mount Royal Commemorative Services, we use a program entitled "Integrity Selling " which is a step by step analysis of the sales process. There are six (6) key steps in the process...

  1. Approach... the purpose of this step is to gain rapport with people and put them at ease
  2. Interview... an opportunity to listen and gather information about the prospects wants and needs
  3. Demonstration... is the solution that you present to people's need, wants, or problems
  4. Validate... information or activity that cause people to believe you, trust you, and have confidence in you
  5. Negotiate... is simply working out the problems that keep people from buying... when they want to buy
  6. Close... asking people to buy when they are ready to buy

Integrity Selling is a philosophy of selling that views the sales process as filling needs, satisfying wants, or solving problems. It is a strategy for selling that structures a step by step process. Finally, it is an ethics or value driven system that guides a salesperson's activities.