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How can community partnership grow your funeral home business?

Anne Moss Rogers   by Anne Moss Rogers January 25, 2017

cause-marketing-300x210.jpgDeath is part of life. It happens to all of us. Nobody knows that better than you. 

However, no one in the death industry relishes the funeral of a child, teen or young adult. So we are going to highlight ways you can stay in the public eye and align yourself with a worthy cause focused on death prevention.

For example, with the raging opiate epidemic, there is opportunity to support your community by supporting a cause that is working to prevent overdose deaths.

Nobody wants to see more of these including you. And that might even surprise people. In a good way.

Overall, people will start to see you in a different way-- not just as a funeral home business but as a community partner in the fight against an ugly epidemic that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.   

This is advertising and it’s called “cause marketing.” So set a budget to make this a year-long initiative with ongoing exposure and involvement by you. And while you could do this with another cause, we’re just using this as an example to flesh it out completely so you see what kind of exposure you get.

I’d suggest starting with at least $10k for the year and evaluate the success after that period.

How do you do this?

There are multiple ways but we’ll touch on just a few here. People like to support businesses that support a cause that improves the lives of those in the community. 

STEP ONE is finding that organization to partner with on the initiative. In this case, you're looking for a mental health or recovery organization. 

Here are the ways in which you can maintain year round exposure

Sponsorship is one way to be visible, and it’s easy

Nonprofit recovery groups and heroin task forces are in many cities now. These groups hold annual events, have fundraisers, support groups and make community presentations. All of these offer opportunities for your brand and for you to feel you are making a meaningful contribution to the community while also remaining top of mind for services when those who support these groups have a loss in the family. You could help promote the event on your social media pages and have signage at the ready for these event sponsorships. You could supply tents to organizations with your logo. They get free tents, you get the exposure.

You should set a marketing budget and commit for a year. A one-time sponsorship would hardly earn you more than a blip on the radar screen.  Have the organization make a list of how they could promote you throughout the year and you can ask for quarterly reports of these efforts.   

For example:

  • In how many speaking engagements were you mentioned on the presentation slides? Most organizations do at least 12 or more presentations in the community
  • Were you mentioned in social media? They can send screen shots of these times. If you were at the events you should take your own pictures and post them to your social media pages.
  • What kind of signage was used at events?

Offer space


You could provide reoccurring space or once-in-a-while space. For reoccurring space, there is AA or Families Anonymous Groups that need a space in which to meet.

One-time space would be for a community presentation or educational event for family education. Retirement homes hold events all the time for the purpose of providing helpful information about caring for an aging loved one. By providing their space for that event and basically hosting it, they have the opportunity to show off their facility in a subliminal way while also providing valuable tips and information to a specific audience. Often just having people come through your door at times other than a service or death event, can create community and when that happens you become a go-to resource when there is a death in the family. People want to support businesses that support community cause.  

Make it your cause

Learn all you can about existing area resources and do video and radio spots about the cause. Too often, funeral ads talk about dignity and respect and basically the same exact message as every other funeral home.

Differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Here is a sample script for a short video or talking points that you can upload to your website or Facebook page. 

“Hi I’m Derek Jones, Funeral Director for Brice Funeral Homes and we are working in sponsorship with the XYZ Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force. We’ve noticed a disturbing trend in our community-- a spike in overdose deaths taking the lives of young people.  So Brice is now making a proactive effort to reduce overdose deaths of young people in our community.

Did you know that most addictions start in your own home—often in your medicine cabinet? To prevent more prescription medications from getting in the wrong hands, we are sponsoring a medicine disposal campaign. You can drop by [this hospital or doctors office] to get the disposable bags free of charge. Just put your meds in these bags and the medications will be destroyed once the bag is sealed and the charcoal is activated.  Place in the bag unused medications that are sitting in your cabinets including medications used for your pets.

Thank you for reducing the number of new addictions by properly disposing of unused medication. You can drop by [address] and pick up your bags. Go to bricemeddisposal.com for directions to Brice, a video of how the bag works. That’s bricemeddisposal.com.”

Prior to doing this, you would buy bricemeddisposal.com and redirect it to a special page on your website that has details about the program. Of course, you need to add those details. It can be a page or a blog page that you link to. 

Remember you need to work with an organization that has access to these disposal bags.

If you have a blog, make sure you post helpful articles that support what you are doing in the community. If you are doing disposal bags and a radio interview (it can be a paid interview), make sure you post a story with the details of what you are promoting for the cause.

Honestly, this particular subject is such an epidemic, you probably could get free unpaid interviews simply by contacting radio stations and asking to be interviewed.  

Try cause marketing for a year to see what impact it has on your funeral home marketing results as a whole.

Not only will it differentiate your business and grow your reach, you will feel good about what you are doing.  

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A social media, advertising and content specialist, Anne Moss Rogers has focused her talents on digital marketing since 1995. Former co-owner of Impression Marketing, she has now shifted her focus to mental health advocacy.

 

Topics: Funeral Home Marketing

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