Branding your cemetery or funeral home will give you valuable recognition in the public eye. Branding is not a quick and easy solution in a box. Effective branding takes planning and effort and yes, dollars. Without the solid name recognition and the quality reputation your brand stands for, your business will not grow. You will be hard-pressed to generate the number of leads you want to bring into your establishment.
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. This means using direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing, or door-to-door canvassing. These are the actual activities of generating leads.
But the truth of the matter is that you can’t just generate leads in a vacuum. 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? This is where you need to do your due diligence in terms of branding your funeral home or cemetery.
Branding is the process involved in creating a unique name and image for your business in the consumer’s 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. You can do this 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. A good reputation significantly improves the opportunities for generating actual leads into your sales pipeline. Branding can build an expectation about your company’s services or products. Part of your branding initiative is to develop a good reputation. People are more apt to trust a company with a good name and consequently, let their counselors into their homes. You want your reputation to be stellar. This way 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.
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. Studies show that people will actually spend more money to buy the same thing from a more recognizable source.
There are some national recognizable names in the Death Care industry, such as Forest Lawn, Dignity Memorial and Neptune Society. For the most part, funeral homes and cemeteries are local or regional establishments. This means you need to work harder to make your brand stand out and be noticed.
Sometimes, successful branding for your cemetery or funeral home may be 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”. You want to create a great tag line that enlightens, establishes credibility, has emotion, and reassures. Your 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. They can incorporate broad corporate branding efforts into their own businesses. Perhaps they use the slogans, mission statements, colors and logos to associate themselves with the greater brand. Or, they may position the national logo or tag line in with their own. This can be on their website, in Google search, in TV ads, even in a You Tube video. Many local funeral home owners are part of the Dignity Memorial group. They often carry forth the “Life Well Celebrated” tag line, positioning it in their own websites and marketing materials.
If your Funeral home or chapel is a member of the Better Business Bureau, ICCFA or NFDA, be sure to feature your membership. Consider using their logos on your website. This adds to your credibility.
Using a Multi-Channel Approach
Direct mail is a wonderful branding tool, since it gives businesses a medium to interpret themselves in many ways. The mail gives you a chance to be visual, employ strategic copy and even make a prospect an offer they can’t refuse. Of course, 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. A well-planned, multi-channel approach gives a business entrance into the broadest range of consumers.
Don’t forget some of the other strategies that helps strengthen your brand and generate trust in your organization. Remember to use clean, identifiable company vehicles. Insure quality attire for staff and distinguishable uniforms for groundskeepers. Hire staff with friendly, compassionate voices on the phone. Make sure all your marketing materials are consistent with your brand and message. All of these reflect on your cemetery or funeral home.
You want to be visible in your community. Consider handing out branded bottled water at a local high school football game during a hot summer evening. You need to make sure you have a strong, visible 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. They also advance the company’s reputation as a trusted partner and a respectable, reliable resource. Studies show that consumers prefer to do business with socially responsible companies.
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 need to undertake an honest assessment of their brand and reputation in their community. This way, you will understand how you’re being perceived so you can develop the right action plan for your growth.