Can your organization be the Starbucks of funeral homes? Unless you want your Funeral Home to known as the cheapest shop in town, you need to be able to compete on more than price.

The GPL, Funeral Homes General Price List, was developed by the Federal Trade Commission under a series of rules called The Funeral Rule.

The Funeral Rule requires every funeral home to have a General Price List (GPL). The GPL is a written, itemized price list of all the items and services the funeral home offers. The General Price List gives consumers the opportunity to compare funeral costs in their area.

Nowadays, there are even companies like Parting.com that help consumers compare prices and services online.

While this price transparency makes it easier for consumers to find the cheapest services, price should not the bottom line when it comes to selecting a funeral homes or cemetery.

That’s why Funeral Homes and cemeteries need to stand out from the crowd. They need to make sure their brand stands for more than price.

Sure, every funeral home says they are compassionate. Everyone offers a variety of caskets and a wide range of visitation times. Flowers, transportation, access to clergy and celebrants – these are all givens.

But what else can a Funeral Home do to insure that consumers move beyond the price? This is where marketing and branding come into play.

In this article, we will review these topics, which help a funeral home transcend price:

  • Marketing to the Right People
  • Sending an Omni-Channel Message
  • Building Relationships
  • Handling Reviews
  • Developing Trust
  • Quality Transcends Price
  • Social Responsibility

Marketing to the Right People

Regardless of whether you are marketing preneed, at need or final expense, there are certain market groups and marketing channels that are better than others.  Generally, preneed prospects are homeowners, age 60+, net worth $500K+ and predisposed to planning. Preneed lead generation starts with a well-thought out omni-channel campaign that includes direct mail, digital display on social marketing networks, with an email chaser for added branding.

When it comes to At Need, your top priority is high visibility in google local. This is where you have to spend some Pay Per Click (PPC) dollars. A well-tuned mobile website is vital. Make sure you have easy to use call to action buttons, including click to call and click for directions.

For Final Expense, consider age 45-75, moderate income. This is still a good group for telemarketing and postcard mailings. You may consider sine-tuning the list with ethnicity in certain markets to increase response.

Sending an Omni-Channel Message

An omni channel marketing strategy refers to the concept of providing a seamless user experience across all channels relevant to the buyer’s journey.

What used to be a one or two-stop shop is now a journey that spans days, times, locations, and channels. And those channels aren’t strictly digital ones. They can be a direct mailer, newspapers or magazines or catalogs in the mail. They can be your chapel, word of mouth, or an outbound ad like a billboard

For example, a customer can be browsing your website online from a desktop or mobile device. They can be calling your funeral home by phone, getting a postcard in the mail or walking into your location. Regardless of how they are communicating with you, the message and sales experience will be seamless.

This topic merits an entire article of its own. Go to: https://www.datamangroup.com/does-your-business-have-an-omni-channel-marketing-strategy-in-place/ for our omni-channel checklist.

Building Relationships

People do business with people they like. There are 2 types of relationships I want to touch on. Those are the owner and the counselor.

As the owner of the funeral home, you need to be visible in your local community. You need to participate in your local Chamber of Commerce and houses of worship.   The more people you know, the more people will know you.

Now, let’s talk about your counselors. Your people’s skill sets needs to be a mixture of sales, interviewer and clairvoyant. The smart sales person asks her prospect the right questions and then needs to figure out how to motivate this potential customer to do business.

Successful sales people represent themselves as a resource rather than a sales rep peddling a product or service. The business of business is tough. A counselor must identify the needs, opportunities, and problems of their prospects—and bring solutions beyond their product or service. This bundle of service could have more value to the buyer. And, it will more than make up for a price differential with a competitor who only shows up to sell their product or service.

The counselor who cares more about the customer than the actual sell, will sell more and often at a higher price because she is viewed more as a partner than someone trying to sell something.

Handling Reviews

Very simply, reviews count. Take a look at these statistics, courtesy of vendasta.com

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
  • 44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant. This highlights the importance of recency in reviews.
  • 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating
  • 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores

Need I say more?

Developing Trust

In the book Trust-Based Selling, Charles Green writes about developing trust. He says that trust-based selling means doing business in such a way that you are worthy of the customer’s trust. That means you must be trustworthy. Trust-based selling is personal. Buying decisions are more than just rational and calculating.

Trust-based selling at its core is not seller-centric — it’s buyer based. This means your counselors are helping the buyer do the right thing — for the buyer.

Selling is the transfer of trust. People do business with people they trust. When your prospect recognizes that you have their best interests in mind, while price will always be a consideration, it will not be the primary one.

When trust is on the table, you have an opportunity to rise above the issue of price.

Quality Transcends Price

Think Apple. Or Starbucks. What about Rolex? Or Harley Davidson. Each of these companies is doing well on both the top line (sales) and the bottom line (profits). Regardless of the state of the economy, they consistently offer products at prices higher than their competitors and their clients continue to loyally support them with their business.

That’s because their brands say “quality”.

At Starbucks, people will pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee. They want their coffee and they want it personalized to their taste. Price does not matter. Can you model the way people look at your organization this way? Can you give them what they want in such a way that price does not matter?

Social Responsibility

A recent USA Today poll revealed that 72% of people will pay more to use the services and products of a company they perceive to be ethical, sustainable and socially responsible

Consumers want to feel like they’re making a difference. One of the best ways to get a new customer is to make them feel good about doing business with you.

There are lots of great examples of companies that are socially responsible, including Google, The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Starbucks, Toms Shoes and Bombas socks.  They all offer quality products and feel-good opportunities.

The Death Care Industry is a service-based business.  Think of the movement of customers away from the megabanks that charged hidden fees and left customers navigating through a labyrinth of automated phone systems. Consumers migrated to credit unions and community banks where real people answer the phone and have a sincere interest in their situation.

If you really want to be the Starbucks of funeral homes, your counselors need to be able to help people navigate the waters of the Funeral Home General Price List and get past the GPL so they can do business with you!

 

This article was reprinted from the November 2019 issue of ICCFA Magazine.