Branding your cemetery or funeral home will give you valuable recognition in the public eye.

Many Funeral Home owners ask me how to improve the number of leads that come into their sales program.  They are talking about what I call active lead generation – Direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing, door-to-door canvassing – the actual activities of generating leads.

But the truth of the matter is that you can’t just generate leads in a vacuum – you need to do your due diligence in terms of branding your funeral home or cemetery. After all, why should they buy from you instead of the funeral home down the street? What makes your Chapel or cemetery the one to go to?

Branding is the process involved in creating a unique name and image for your business in the consumers’ mind. A brand is not just a logo. It’s how your Funeral home or cemetery is viewed in the eyes of the consumer. The aim of your branding efforts is to establish a recognizable presence in the marketplace that attracts and retains loyal customers. This is done mainly through advertising, public relations and direct marketing campaigns. The key here is using a consistent theme that works well in all the different media channels.

Creating a Good Reputation

Branding is also a way to build an important company asset, which is a good reputation. Branding can build an expectation about the company services or products. Because of this, customers know that if they buy a pre-need program through your funeral home it will be of the highest quality and any problems they may have will always be handled quickly and efficiently.  A good reputation significantly improves the opportunities for generating actual leads into your sales pipeline because people are more apt to trust a company with a good name and consequently, let their counselors into their homes.

In the Death Care industry, the concept of brand equity also comes into play. Brand equity is a phrase used in the marketing industry to describe the value of having a well-known brand name. The truth of the matter is that consumers tend to believe that a product with a well-known name is better than a product with lesser known name and studies show that people will actually spend more money to buy the same thing from a more recognizable source.

In the Death Care industry, there are some national recognizable names: Forest Lawn, Dignity Memorial, Neptune Society, but, for the most part, funeral homes and cemeteries are local or regional establishments, which means that owners need to work hard to make their brand stand out and be noticed.

Sometimes it’s creating a great tag line that helps explain your business. I’ve seen a lot of tag lines that appeal to family: “From our family to yours since 1929”; “Let us care for your loved ones like they are our own”; “Meeting the needs of today’s family”. A great tag line enlightens us, establishes credibility, it has emotion, it reassures us. The tag line can be used in many marketing channels to help with branding efforts.

Those funeral homes and cemeteries that are part of a national chain have the opportunity to jump on the national bandwagon and incorporate broad corporate branding efforts them into their own businesses, maybe using the slogans, mission statements, colors and logos to associate themselves with the greater brand, positioning the national logo or tag line in with their own, whether it be on their website, in Google search, in TV ads, in a You Tube video. Many local funeral home owners who are part of the Dignity Memorial group carry forth the “Life Well Celebrated” tag line, positioning it in their own websites and marketing materials.

Using a Multi-Channel Approach

Direct mail is a wonderful branding tool, since it gives businesses a medium to interpret themselves visually, employ strategic copy and even make a prospect an offer they can’t refuse.  Direct mail is just one option. TV, print, email and social media are all strong branding channels. Variety is important, since different people respond to different media and a well-planned, multi-channel approach gives a business entrée to the broadest range of consumers.

Don’t forget some of the other strategies that helps strengthen your brand and generate trust in your organization:  clean, identifiable company vehicles, quality attire for staff, distinguishable uniforms for groundskeepers, friendly voices on the phone, and marketing materials that are consistent with your brand and message.

Be visible in your community. Hand out branded bottled water at a local high school football game during a hot summer evening. Be sure to have a presence when your company is needed most. For example, in the wake of a tragedy, provide grief counselors to help those in need.  The goodwill, good press and good feelings generated from this type of good deed far outweigh the cost.

We all remember a company that does good deeds. From a branding standpoint, these acts elevate a company’s position in the community and advance the company’s reputation as a trusted partner and a respectable, reliable resource.

When your brand engenders trust, people are more likely to do business with you.

When your Funeral Home or cemetery has a good reputation, it’s easier to generate leads. Cemetery and funeral home owners should undertake an honest assessment of their brand and reputation in their community and develop an action plan for growth.