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Bad Funeral Home Advertisements

It's a struggle for funeral homes to advertise.

Where do we advertise?  At nursing homes?  Hospitals?  Bars?  Along dangerous highways?

It's a struggle for us to sponsor events.

What should we sponsor?  A BBQ fundraiser?  Who wants to see a funeral home ad on the back of their son's Little League uniform?

And when other businesses can donate a coupon or a gift certificate to a charity auction, the funeral homes can donate ... what?  A used casket?  A groupon?

There's a lot of opportunity for us to fail in our advertising.  And with that in mind, here's a great example:

I get it.  You're desperate to show that you're a part of a community.  But, there's better ways to do it.  She's almost dead.  You're a funeral home.  You don't see a conflict of interest?  For goodness sake, get a new advertisement department.

Really?  Are you serious?  The perfect gift for Valentines Day?  Is the person who designed this a human being?  If there was a Darwin Award for people who kill their own businesses, you'd be this year's recipient.

So, you've got to have some control over the side of your building ... right?  You're "FuneralCare" ... that's what you call yourself.  "Care" is part of your name.  And you have a billboard for a zombie show on the side of your building?  Zombies + Funeral + Care ≠ Awesome Advertising.

Okay.  So you need a little more business, but there's better ways to do it.  Join a church.  Make friends at a local civic organization.  Joining the local chapter of the Juggalos would be a more honest way to get business.  But, please, don't make us funeral directors look anymore weirder than we already are!!!

Caleb Wilde

I'm a sixth generation funeral director. I have a grad degree in Missional Theology. And I like to read and write. Connect with my writing and book plans by "liking" me on facebook. And keep tabs with my blog via subscription or twitter.

  • So are people who help others pass on peacefully (Hospice) wierdo’s too?  My first reaction Caleb, is you need a major shift in your self image.  Funeral Directors are NOT wierd.  They are caring individuals who perform a valuable service.  OK, you already know that.  But you think the outside world looks at you as a wierd-o?  Not true. You’re correct.  You need to be involved in Rotary, Lions, Toastmasters… schools and your church.  People will see how normal you are.  And might want to call you when the time comes.  Advertising is speaking to thousands when you don’t have time or resources to contact each one individually…

    Yes, Funeral Homes need to market their services.  Why not create an Event at your home?  We do that at Heritage in Spokane, and will see 5000+ people stop by to view our events, have some refreshments, enjoy some music…
    Heritage started as an independant funeral home in the late 90’s.  With 4-5 long standing local opperations to compete against.  Now we are one of the top homes in the area.
    Our Television advertising has been spot on. Our Radio compliments our TV.  We do selected publications.  And yes, we hold various Events at our home to invite the community in and get to know the Wierdo’s!
    Problem with most funeral owners is wanting case count up, with out doing anything to accomplish that.  Good Luck.  In the normal retail world, you need to spend to make it.
    That is where a good marketing company can help you sort out the bad marketing vehicles from the good ones.  Does anyone reading this own a Chevy Volt?  Expensive vehicle, bad ROI.  Chevy loves you for buying one.  But there are many out there that do a better job of transportation, with a much lower ROI.  You need someone to help you make your decisions.

    Maybe pick up some Dale Carnegie material and read up on who you can be.  Good Luck.
    Mike Pursel.

  • Tom Boudinot

    If you are a sixth generation funeral director, the funeral industry should not be weird to you, it should be “natural”.  Your firm should be a mainstay of your community, and, you are correct, that you should be involved in your community, church, etc.  But, something you should be aware of, is that all communities are different.  In larger markets, sponsoring a little league team may be a negative, but, in some smaller areas, if you DON’T sponsor the little league team, that can be detrimental to your business.  In more progressive areas you can push the envelope a little more in some advertising, than in a rural area.  Each funeral home has to do what is right for their area. But to not advertise because “we’ver never done it before”, or “our area can’t handle it”.  Those are major cop outs.  A lot of those directors think advertising is a waste of money because that’s what they were told 20-30 years ago, and they still believe it.  The loyalty to the old family funeral home is not what it was 20-30 years ago.  Even if you still have the same market share that you had years ago, that means you are actually behind if you haven’t increased.  Funeral homes need to change with the times.  I’m not saying less personal service, but more options for people to consider.  If you haven’t progressed into Social Media and your competitor has, then you are already behind.  I am a second generation funeral director with 34 years experience.  If I can change my thoughts and outlook to the future, most people can also.  And I have never felt like a weirdo, nor do my friends and family.  We provide a valuable service to our community and are proud of who we are and what we do.  By the way, the preneed ad that you “failed”, was very popular in the 70’s and 80’s and were very successful ads in the infancy of preneed.  If you weren’t there to see it, try not to judge it, there are still ads out there today that say the same thing, only in more “politically correct” terms.

  • E. Anthony Cisneros

    Where do I start…I think my two esteemed colleagues who previously posted are reading too much into Caleb’s remarks.

    First: I don’t see how simply saying the “Valentine’s Day Preneed Special” was a “fail” is in any way judging it. He is speaking to the fact that it’s distasteful, just because it may have been popular and as you say – successful, doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s in poor taste and insults the the intelligence of even the youngest of  those who are in love. Let’s be rational about this. Would any seasoned woman in her right mind relish the fact her husband of 35 years just presented her with a paid-up preneed…on Valentines Day no less? Think about it my good man, all I see is a fist to the face…and rightly so.

    Second: I think you’re making to much out of his light – hearted banter. If you read his posts’ on his website I think you’d see quite clearly that HE doesn’t think we’re weird,  he’s talking about some of the public perception of Funeral Directors, Embalmers etc… I don’t care how many trade clubs or church organizations you join, you’re always going to be the “Mortician” there’s no getting around it. After CHOOSING to follow his forefathers into this profession and CHOOSING to be the sixth generation to do so I think he’s quite sure of who he is and what his place in the industry is as well.

    Caleb, I take your article for exactly what it is…funny. Keep it up.

  • And the Co operative funeralcare is a UK based firm IF memory serves me correctly. In the UK they have a very different type of advertising ……And it looks like the billboard beside their bldg is not attached to the building……just sayin….


  • Ed McCabe

    Sounds like some of you are taking yourselves WAY too seriously.  To me it sounds like Caleb was being  rather tongue-in-cheek.  I think the whole point was to be amused.

  • Creative advertising… at its best!  The Valentine’s Day ad wins the Darwin Award though…  Wow. 

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