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How I Learned to Stop Pissing Into the Wind

It’s no longer a secret. The adaption rate of funeral professionals when it comes to embracing a new marketing strategy targeting the “Boomer” segment is virtually a non-starter.

A new report released last week from Nielsen Company and BoomAgers LLC says:

“Boomers are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing and they are too valuable to ignore.”

We all knew that.  But the most important part about this report is that it totally destroys the EXCUSE most funeral professionals use to avoid investing in social media marketing. Yes, I said, “investing”, which means spending marketing dollars on social media and not a phonebook ad.

Still skeptical?  Here is your risk:

“Taking their loyalty for granted, or forsaking them for being too loyal or set in their ways, are both risky approaches for marketers.”

Specifically the report Introducing Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation (Nielsen Company and BoomAgers LLC) details that:

Boomers represent:

63% of Boomers still have at least one person in the household working full time. Boomers make the most money and they spend what they make. Boomers account for:

  • 49% (nearly $230 billion) of total CPG sales
  • 44% of the US population
  • 70% of US disposable income
  • 40% of customers paying for wireless service and
  • 41% of those purchasing Apple computers

Between now and 2030, the 18-49 segment is expected to grow +12%, while the 50+ segment will expand +34%.

Internet users over the age of 50 are driving the growth of social networking as their usage of the social net has nearly doubled to 42% in the past year. 53% of Boomers are on Facebook.

That bears repeating:  53% of Boomers are on facebook and my bet is that they are the middleclass Boomers who are your primary market.

They are also prolific online shoppers. A third of them shop online and the 50+ segment spends almost $7 billion when there.

The Internet is their primary source of intelligence when comparison-shopping for major purchases.

What troubles me most about your reluctance to jump into social media marketing is that YOU already know this because YOU use the internet in just the same way this report describes here.  So, if it’s good enough for you why isn’t it good enough for your families.

Or

Better yet, why are you content to allow online conversations to go on without your being included?

The numbers are staggering. I don’t know what else it is going to take for funeral professionals to understand that the way they have been marketing HAS TO CHANGE. Social media marketing MUST be a focal point of your advertising, and Yes, you will have to spend money. If a company is going to give you FREE social media consulting or put your social media on “autopilot” and there are no goals or strategy process in place, I promise you will be disappointed.

Click to download a PDF version of Introducing Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation 

Fact: The most important thing about social media marketing is having a focused strategy with goals and a quantified way of measuring the achievement of said goals.

Ryan Thogmartin

Ryan Thogmartin is founder and CEO of two innovative companies. Connecting Directors LLC (www.connectingdirectors.com) and Disrupt Media Group, LLC (www.disruptmg.com). ConnectingDirectors.com is the premier progressive online publication for funeral professionals. ConnectingDirectors.com is a thriving global publication with a reader base of over 15,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the industry.

Disrupt Media Group, LLC is a social media marketing solutions firm. Disrupt MG focuses on proficiently assisting small businesses in creating engaging social media marketing strategies. Without a social media marketing strategy companies and brands are just aimlessly posting without any coherent direction. Social media marketing is more than just having a Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page; businesses have to have a strategy to telling their story, one that opens the door and starts the conversation.

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  • BT Hathaway

    Just keep in mind Ryan that with life expectancies surpassing 80 years in some parts of the country, we have to sustain that “investment” for between ten and fourty years before boomers or boomer families have to make a funeral home decision. Our relationship cycle is measured in decades, not fiscal quarters, and who knows what social media will look like many years from now.

    Which is not to say we can’t or shouldn’t shift energies and money from yellow pages to other resources. But social can be inefficient in other ways. A Facebook presence requires a LOT of fresh content in order to look “alive”. That is not easy to sustain especially for operators in small communities.

    For a lot of funeral homes, it will still be more effective to help flip burgers at the church social, rather than staying at the office concocting more FB posts. But when the church event is over, post a couple of photos. For many, that’s as complicated (and anxiety inducing) as social needs to get.

  • Tim O’Brien

    Think in terms of channels and generations. There are basically 3 generations to be involved with now, and each has their preferred, secondary and incidental channels for communicating.

    You must be doing some of all of them to each generation or you have holes. Flipping burgers is under community outreach which can be effective will all age groups. Posting is social media. It will change over time, morph as all media types do.

    FB and Twitter are what dominate now, others will come and go too – be involved in the concept, commit to it and grow with it.

    Can you really attribute many calls directly to either yellow pages or billboards? Those are shotgun approaches in an era of targeted niche marketing. How do you spent on those that might be cut back on or eliminated and redeployed?

    A good hard look at how much time your licensed people spend doing activities that require licenses might very well indicate that you could cut back on licensed persons and add a community outreach person (COP). – tim

  • BT Hathaway

    Someone will need to explain to me how social media is any more targeted than any other form of advertising. It’s more clutter in a world full of clutter. For instance my two or three times per day FB habit of a couple years ago has dwindled down to two or three times per week at best. It just doesn’t command my attention the way it once did and I guess Twitter matters to somebody, but to me it is another agglomeration of nothingness that it is better for me to ignore.

    So who’s REALLY paying attention to funeral home messages on Twitter and FB? (follow link)

    https://plus.google.com/app/plus/mp/749/#~loop:view=activity&aid=z12ev3zzjqr1yh1mt22kwpgglsrjdfra504

    Social is a piece of the puzzle and it might save the cost of publishing and mailing a newsletter which is no small thing, but it is also new and very difficult to quantify. We probably shouldn’t ignore it, but neither will it transform our businesses in the next couple of years. And maybe we should take notice when a company like GM packs up and leaves FB for lack of advertising success. If they can’t make a dent with $10 million, that makes me hesitate to think I can accomplish all that much working on my own.

    • ryanthogmartin

      The answer is because Facebook ads are ineffective as a result of a poor social media strategy. Unfortunately for GM, Facebook wasn’t to blame; their poor social media strategy is where the blame should be placed.

      1. Unrealistic goals
      We don’t know exactly what goals GM had for their Facebook ad campaign, but to suggest that Facebook ads didn’t work as expected, we can assume that GM wasn’t meeting their goals. In fact, GM’s entire strategy seemed to involve a misunderstanding of goals. Not just GM’s vague social media campaign goals, but a thorough lack of understanding in the purpose of Facebook Ads.
      Facebook ads are meant to increase awareness, engagement, interaction and customer satisfaction of your brand. GM needed to create a campaign that focused on creating an active, engaging community. A recent study by Forrester states that consumers are twice as likely to buy a product from a brand they “like” on Facebook. That statement is true only if that fan page can create worthy content in an effort to keep interaction high.

      2. Non-engaging content

      Granted, I am likely younger than GM’s demographic and certainly not in any hurry to purchase a car. But that has nothing to do with the consumer buying a car in general. Buying a car isn’t an impulse decision. Buying a car is a long-term process with many thought-out factors. As such, you need to develop long-term marketing plans so that when someone is ready to buy a car, GM has done enough to stamp their place at the top of consumers’ minds. Sounds a lot like funeral homes.

      Is GM creating worthy content? And if they are, are they pushing that content in the faces of people that would be interested in seeing it? An analysis of GM’s Facebook page and their competitor Ford’s Facebook page tells us that GM haven’t done enough to optimize engagement on their fan page.

      Notice the tabs focused on engagement that Ford has in the image below. Then take a look at GM’s Facebook page. GM’s fan page doesn’t give any user a reason to “like” it or stay a fan (if they do “like” it). Furthermore, by clicking on some of Ford’s custom tabs, you’ll find that design and layout are representative of great interaction.

      3. Measured the wrong results

      Measuring the wrong results on Facebook is a product of creating the wrong goals. If GM didn’t see fan page growth tremendously with that much of a budget, then yes, their Facebook ad campaign failed. But if the auto giant measured click-through rate (CTR) and noticed that it was low, that’s probably just an indicator of every brand in the auto industry on Facebook (considering you’ve optimized ad copy as much as possible). If GM didn’t see an increase in overall sales, it’s not because the ads didn’t work.

      Assuming GM had properly setup the targeting section of their campaign, the goal of steadily growing a community of GM fans should’ve taken priority. Therefore, to measure that, you would only need to look at how many daily likes you’re getting as well as other fan engagement factors (such as how many people are talking about this).

      GM finally realized where they went wrong and have come crawling back to Facebook: http://www.businessinsider.com/after-raining-on-the-ipo-gm-is-going-to-start-buying-facebook-ads-again-2012-7

      Many think the GM pull-out announcement was an attention grabbing stunt.

      Social media campaigns have to have set goals and key measuring points. Without theses there is no way to determine the effectiveness.

      BT you can learn more about our social media process here: http://www.disruptmg.com/funeral

      • BT Hathaway

        I think the greatest challenge for me (and probably most funeral directors) is the “compelling content” part. Since I don’t want to come off looking like this guy…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b5CKSqlz60

        I want/need access to a whole different level of production values and content creation which is expensive and in many ways beyond the budgetary reach of my company and most funeral directors.

        I will continue to dabble and learn, but I know to do it “right” means a huge long-term commitment that is very challenging to sustain.

        Very few of us got into this business to be entertainers, but that seems to be a very big part of social media marketing.

        • ryanthogmartin

          Actually this video did exactly what it was suppose to do…its been viewed 1.3 million times!

          I understand this isn’t the type of video a funeral home could do and you don’t have to. Social media is about ENGAGING not entertaining.

          Your concerns are not different than any other client we work with.

          Hiring a company who specializes in social media strategy and management allows you to focus on what you do and not on content creation. We have a strategy process that encompasses a 6 month campaign with goals. Every 6 months we realign and tweak those goals.

          I challenge you have an intro call with me and let explain our process and the deliverables we provide monthly to our clients. I promise you will find what we deliver as valuable.

          • BT Hathaway

            Engaging…Entertaining…two sides of the same coin.

            So who do you think of as your model client? Where can I find them on FB/Twitter?

  • anon

    I read the article because you said you learned to “stop pissing into the wind,” but now I think you should reconsider your title. Some new report isn’t going to sway funeral business owner opinion on social media. If you think that, then I think you’re still facing into the wind.

    Instead, re-think “social” as MORE than Facebook and Twitter. Re-state it as a general e-connection strategy with your community — eNewsletters, using email appropriately and often, managing email lists effectively, offering good online obituary features on your website, managing online reviews, and perhaps doing some Facebook stuff too. To me, that’s where funeral homes need to begin “social” AND it’s what they’ll understand most readily.

    Good luck with the wind direction!