This article on Marketing to Death talks about making lead generation a daily exercise.

Funeral directors and cemeterians who encourage families to preplan need to make sure they’re doing enough preplanning of their own. Most sales don’t happen by accident.

The Federal Trade Commission offers comprehensive information on their website for families who are looking for information about funeral planning.

They support preplanning, saying: “Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. It allows you to choose the specific items you want and need, and compare the prices offered by several funeral providers. It also spares your survivors the stress of making these decisions under the pressure of time and strong emotions.”

There are many websites that people can visit for information and, in today’s gathering-information-online age, lots of people do just that.

But let’s face it, funeral preplanning is not at the top of anyone’s priorities. And even if it were, unless an individual cemetery or funeral home has a formidable brand and top Google ranking where it can consistently be found by consumers, it needs to actively reach out to continuously generate leads. That’s why I call this marketing to death.

Thinking about your plan

Lead generation needs to be a day-to-day effort and many cemeteries and funeral homes are simply not up to the task. Professionals in the death care profession tell consumers they need to be prepared for the inevitable. They need a plan. As a professional in the lead generation business, I tell cemeterians and funeral directors the same thing: You need to be prepared to succeed. You need a plan.

The perfect lead.

  • The lead wants a preneed plan for him/herself and spouse.
  • Ready to set a date and time for an in-home appointment.
  • Can afford to pay for a preneed arrangement (in full!)

This perfect lead is not knocking down your door, so how are you going to rise to the task of finding him or her? You need to plan.

A friend of mine, a real pro in the preneed business, once told me he uses 17 different lead sources in order to keep a continuous flow of leads coming into his pipeline. He is my hero. He knows you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You need a well thought-out, diversified plan that combines direct mail for consistent outreach, search engine optimization so you can be found, local programming to raise your company’s community profile and networking to increase your own name recognition.

Some of the lead sources in his plan are:

  • Direct mail to “golden” homeowners (affluent seniors who own their homes)
  • Direct mail to life insurance/estate/trust clients
  • Telemarketing/cold-calling to prospect lists
  • Home shows/senior fairs/booths at community events
  • Referrals from existing clients
  • His own customer database
  • Online lead generation
  • Search engine optimization/pay per click
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Churches/houses of worship
  • Networking
  • Open houses
  • Community interest programming on location
  • Sponsoring programming at other locations
  • Social media

Some lead sources are personnel heavy. By that, I mean you or a key staffer needs to proactively be the front person who networks, presents a program or staffs a booth at a community event. When choosing the person to handle this, remember that people want to deal with people they like and respect.

Some lead sources are more automated. For example, ongoing direct mailings can generate a lead flow day-in, day-out.

Well done direct mail drives people to call you on the phone, send in a business reply card or visit your website, where they have the option to complete an online lead form.

Your Database

Your own database is a gold mine. Make sure you mine it using new technology that makes it easy to update your old customer list with current information. Your database is a great source for unfunded contracts and post service leads, which can be reworked with great success.

Cemeteries and funeral homes need to constantly nurture their community profile. A caring, well-educated staff that dynamically serves the customer is critical and will result in referrals, a sterling reputation and high quality incoming leads.

When participating in social media, keep it current, keep it relevant, keep it meaningful and keep it coming. Social media creates both positive and negative chatter. A savvy social marketer can generate high value leads.

Regardless of which lead sources you end up choosing for your cemetery or funeral home, I hope you take my advice to select several different lead sources for your focus. Then, make sure you incorporate them, in writing, in your lead generation plan. There is nothing worse than spending time and effort generating leads and not maximizing them to the fullest because you’re not ready for success. Working on your plan

Here are some questions to ask yourself and your marketing team:

  • Do you have a lead generation plan that includes actual dates on your calendar for different lead generation efforts? Is it written down?
  • Is your lead generation plan diversified? Are you using at least six different lead sources?
  • When a lead calls in, to whom do they speak?
  • Who makes outbound calls to leads? Do you use an appointment setter with a tested script?
  • Are you offering the appropriate premium to close the in-home appointment? (Remember, your first sale is getting that appointment.)
  • How are you tracking your lead sources?
  • Is your website kept current with the most up-to-date information?
  • When is your next networking event?
  • When was your customer list last updated through the NCOA (National Change of Address) or scrubbed against the Do Not Call list?
  • Do you have a referral reward program in place for your staff?

Your business depends on new business. If you want your cemetery or funeral home to succeed at lead generation, you need to have a plan in place and be committed to the process. Otherwise instead of marketing to death, it will be death from marketing!