I have received at least a dozen emails over the last week asking my thoughts on 2010 as it relates to funeral home marketing. So here it goes…
My crystal ball is in front of me and I’m entering into a psychic trance (not really but the imagery
Here are the top 5 things that I see happening in funeral home marketing in 2010..
Prediction #1 – The search for ROI
In 2009, 100% of the funeral home owners that I spoke
with said that they had either reduced their
advertising budget or kept it at the same level as
2008. When asked why they all said that it was because
they couldn’t tell what was, and was not, working.
Therefore it didn’t make sense to spend more.
The major problem with most funeral home advertising
is that it is geared towards brand awareness and
therefore is inherently hard to measure.
In 2010, I predict there will be a significant
reallocation of marketing dollars away from brand
awareness advertising towards measurable styles of
Here is an example.
With Google Adwords advertising you are able to
measure exactly which ad produces the click through to
your website. You can run as many ads as you like and
Google will measure the effectiveness of each ad for
you and report the data as often as you’d like.
Can the Yellow pages do that for you? No. Radio? No.
Google Adwords is just one of the many measurable
styles of marketing available today (information
hotlines is one of my other favorites).
Always remember, if you can measure something you can
fix it. But without the ability to measure you are
shooting in the dark and very few business owners can
afford that in 2010.
Prediction #2 – The growing value crisis
My second prediction for 2010 is that the value crisis
will grow significantly.
This crisis has two components. First, the vast
majority of families today do not understand the value
of a visitation and memorial service. Second, the
majority of funeral arrangers cannot explain the value
in terms that the family can embrace.
The family doesn’t understand the value and the
arranger cannot effectively explain it to them,
therefore the family chooses to minimize the
transaction. You lose business and they lose the
opportunity to grieve as a family.
Why will this crisis grow in 2010? Because more baby
boomers are making the arrangement decisions for
Baby boomers question everything and refuse to spend
money on something unless they fully understand it
They have also have impacted every segment of society
and they are the major cause of the current value
Prediction #3 – Growth of the memorial experience
My third prediction for 2010 is that this will be the
year of the memorial experience.
I am referring to the concepts outlined in the book
“The Experience Economy” by Pine & Gilmore.
In 2009, I had the pleasure of working one on one with
some of the leading firms in the country. 100% of
those firms have embraced the experience economy and
have integrated the concepts into their funeral homes.
Funerals at these firms execute like well orchestrated
plays and families love them for it.
In 2010 I predict that you have a clear choice.
Embrace the experience economy and grow or become a
discount firm. The traditional funeral home that still
does things the same way they did 20 years ago will
continue to lose market share.
Prediction #4 – Web Site 2.0
I predict that 2010 will be a very good year for some
of the website development firms in the funeral
In 2008 and 2009 many of the leading funeral homes in
the country finally trashed their original websites
built a decade ago and implemented new websites with
lots of great features. Now it’s time for the rest of
the funeral homes to take the plunge.
In today’s market your website is critical to the
success of your business. A family doesn’t form a
first impression by looking at your building anymore.
They form their first impression by looking at your
There are a handful of major web firms servicing this
industry. Unfortunately, most of them churn out cookie
cutter websites that do not help you to establish a
unique presence in your community (and they charge way
too much for what they deliver)
My advice…shop around. Most funeral homes need a new
website but they certainly don’t need to overpay for
something that is only marginally better than what
they already have.
Prediction #5 – Decline of the big agencies
My fifth prediction for 2010 is that you will see a
continued decline in the influence of the leading
marketing agencies in the funeral home industry.
Yes, I realize that is not a popular prediction for
some people especially if you happen to work with one
of those agencies. But the reality is that their
influence declined significantly during the last few
years and I expect that it will continue to decline
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting this because I
compete with them. My focus for 2010 is on creating
home study marketing training courses and turnkey
marketing systems that help funeral home owners
compete in crowded markets. Their focus tends to be on
selling you a cool family vacation that happens to be
tax deductible because they bundle it with a few days
of rehashed training and selling cutesy ads with
slogans (that stopped working in 1990).
Ok, that might have been a bit harsh…but you should
expect more from leading marketing agencies. Consumers
have fundamentally changed and marketing has to change
with them or it ceases to be effective.
In the words of Thomas Paine…”Lead, follow, or get
out of the way”
That concludes my 5 top predictions for 2010. We’ll
have to wait year to see how accurate I was but I feel
pretty confident at this point.
A few updates
We’ve just wrapped up work on the 2010 version of the
Strategic Marketing Plan for Funeral Service
Professionals. We’re waiting on some website updates
before making that available for purchase. It should
be up before the end of the week and I will send out
another email at that time.
Our current wave of Information Hotline projects is
just about wrapped up and we’re starting to prepare
for our next wave. We have our processes streamlined
so rather than limiting it to 5 funeral homes as we
have in the past we are going to open it up to 10 this
time around. Learn more at www.funeralhomehotlines.com
Here are the important dates.
Tuesday January 19 – registration open to people on
Thursday January 21 – open registration
Wednesday January 27 – close registration and project
I will be sending out more information as the date
We are also going to be reworking our solutions
website soon to make it easier to see everything that
FuneralSuccess.com has to offer.