There’s an old story that you’ve probably heard…
Two hikers see a bear ahead of them on the path. The
bear starts chasing them when one of the hikers stops
to put on his running shoes. The first hiker screams
“What are you doing? Running shoes aren’t going to
help you out run the bear”. The second hiker replies
“I don’t have to out run the bear. I just have to out
Yes, it’s a silly story but it illustrates and
important business point.
In the world of business, if you have a clear
understanding of who you are competing with you can
take decisive action and survive a bear market (sorry,
but that was too easy of a pun to pass up).
But if you compete with the wrong company and miss the
true threat you could end up loosing everything when
the economy slows down.
So who does your funeral home compete with?
A) a well entrenched funeral home in your town
that wins a significant number of calls just because
they’ve been around since 1802 and everyone always
B) a new full service funeral home in town
winning some of the calls that used to come your way
C) a discount service provider that is making your
I’m going to make a broad generalization here….(and
yes things will vary from market to market) but in
most cases the true competitor for your funeral home
is “C”, the discount service provider.
Almost every funeral home I’ve seen has marketing that
is designed to compete against the other full service
funeral homes in town and does very little to compete
against the discount firms.
The tug-of-war between you and the other full service
funeral homes in town is not your biggest threat
because all of you are experiencing the same
thing…too many families wanting minimal services.
The #1 reason why people choose a discount service
provider or a cremation society is because they don’t
see the value in a funeral service. The biggest threat
to the future of your business is the fact that most
consumers today do not understand the value of a
visitation and memorial service.
Consider a car purchase….does Kia compete with
Lexus? No, because of effective marketing potential
customers understand that they both offer different
things and are therefore of different value.
Consider a wedding….does the small wedding chapel
compete with a full service wedding reception &
banquet hall? No, again they offer different things
and their customers understand the difference.
The GI generation has usually followed tradition and
rarely questions the ceremonies of the past. That’s
why they have been so easy to work with.
But Baby Boomers question everything and they refuse
to spend money on things that they don’t understand.
But if they understand the value of something they
To go back to the car analogy…today’s families would
really prefer a Lexus but they don’t understand how it
is any better than a Kia so they buy the cheaper car
(and then complain about it).
Fundamentally, it’s a marketing problem.
It’s marketing’s job to communicate your value to the
target market in such a way that they understand and
appreciate what you can do for them.
If you find yourself losing calls to the discount
firm, your marketing is broke and needs an overhaul.
The good news is that you don’t have to out run the
discount firm, you just have to out run the other full
Fixing your marketing is not a trivial undertaking.
You can’t just buy another stock ad from one of the
industry ad agencies and expect to solve this problem.
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