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Just How Many Families are Undecided?

This post originally appeared in the eFuneral Funeral Director Blog. eFuneral is a regular contributor of quality content to ConnectingDirectors.com

Have you ever thought about how many people within your community know exactly which funeral home they would select if they had to make a decision today?  As a company who is interested in helping  undecided families make more informed decisions about funeral planning, we've not only thought about it — but we have connected with, and helped, these very families.

Even though we know that these families exist, it got us thinking, "Just how many people are undecided as to which funeral home they would turn to?"

Using Ask Your Target Market, an independent market research platform, we asked the following question to over 600 individuals over the age of 35 located throughout the United States:

"If you were to plan a funeral service for a loved one, what best describes your current situation?"

We were pretty intrigued, although not surprised, by the findings:

  • Only 26.8% of respondents knew exactly which funeral home they would select.
  • 22.7% of respondents had some idea of which funeral home they would select.
  • The majority (50.5%) of respondents had no idea what funeral home they would select.

What does this mean for funeral professionals?

While the relationships that you've built with families in your community are very important, it's simply not enough.  Certainly, your involvement within the community can help continue to build relationships - but you're probably already doing that.  It's important to find new ways to connect with these undecided families.

Do you have ideas on which new tools or techniques can be helpful for funeral professionals to use to attract these undecided families?  Did you just try experimenting with a new technique and want to share your experiences?

Feel free to share your experiences or ideas in the comments section below.

Mike Belsito is an Internet entrepreneur with a background in product innovation, ideation, and startup business development.  Mike is the Co-Founder of eFuneral, an online platform that helps connect families in-need with the funeral homes that can best serve them.  He also serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence for the City of Lakewood, Ohio -- a 50,000+ residential community located in Northeast Ohio.


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  • gailrubin

    Thanks for posing the question, Mike. I’ve been making funeral planning presentations using funny films to attract audiences to senior centers and at churches and synagogues. The talks have titles like “Funny Films for Funeral Planning” and “Ashes to Ashes, Dust in Your Face: Cremation, Comedy and Creativity.” Both talks attract curiosity, attendance, and they get people laughing, which opens the door to conversations about the serious topic of funeral planning before there’s a death in the family.

    The attendees also give me their contact information when I offer to do a drawing for a free copy of my book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. I also offer a free PDF download of The Newly-Dead Game. This is like the old TV show, The Newlywed Game, except the questions focus on how well you know your partner’s last wishes. I ask for their name, email, phone, city and age.

    Then I can follow up with them by phone to find out what drew them to the talk, what they learned and liked about it, if they have insurance to cover their final expenses, and if they are religious or not. If they’re not religious, I let them know that I’m also a Certified Funeral Celebrant who can help them put together a meaningful, memorable “good goodbye” that’s all about the person and their life. If they’ve provided email, I add them to my monthly event notification list.

    There’s a story in the March/April ICCFA Magazine about using humor and movies in community outreach. You can download a PDF of the story through this link to my website:

    Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death
    Author, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die
    and The Family Plot Blog (http://TheFamilyPlot.wordpress.com)

  • Dave

    The “undecideds” are a great topic! Truly this is why funeral establishments should advertise…if the person’s mind is made up you dont need to advertise to them. We have done a number of marketing research studies over the last 20 years and they are telling. A question to Mike Belsito what was the methodology of the survey referenced in your comments? More interesting.. what was the mean age of the respondents.

    Dave McComb

    • Dave, thanks for your comment.  We chose 600 respondents because there are approximately 2.4 million deaths per year.  While we can’t accurately predict whether these individuals will have a death in their life and will be responsible for planning (nobody can), we felt comfortable with choosing enough respondents to achieve a 95% confidence level, with a confidence interval of 4% (which amounted to 600 respondents).  We limited the survey to individuals over the age of 35 based on qualitative feedback we’ve received from our users since launching eFuneral.

      Because of the format of AskYourTargetMarket, we don’t know the “mean age”, but the age range broke down as follows:-  24% – ages between 35-44-  36% – ages between 45-54-  28% – ages between 55-64-  12% – ages 65+

      Even when we segmented it to those over the age of 65, the result still showed a minority (33.8%) knowing exactly which funeral home they would use.  35.2% had some idea — and 31% had no idea at all which funeral home they would use.  Even when you look at that 31% figure, I think all could agree that it’s certainly significant enough to not overlook.

      Thanks again, Dave.