Funeral Home Marketing Funeral Industry News Preplanning

Tunnel Vision In The Funeral Business

May 16, 2016

We believe that every funeral director should have the tools to succeed. With the help of our field-leading partners, we publish daily funeral industry news and provide free tools to help our readers advance their careers and grow their businesses. Our editorial focus on the future, covering impact-conscious funeral care, trends, tech, marketing, and exploring how today's funeral news affects your future.

Tunnel Vision In The Funeral Business

As a technology and marketing provider, we call on funeral homes each day and try to help them reach more families, create awareness for their brand and help position them for future growth. We get some yes’s and some no’s. That is all part of the job.

Yesterday a funeral home owner writes me back and said “Advertising does not help anyone in funeral service, it is reputation and previously served …but you would not understand that for you are not a funeral service provider.”

I’m sure that was a brilliant statement in his mind and that he really zinged me but he really just showed me what tunnel vision looks like in the funeral business.

We’ve all seen tunnel vision first hand.  On school projects it was the know-it-all in the group.  Later in life it was the closed-minded boss carrying the clipboard who wasn’t interested in your opinion.

So let’s take his clever quip and break it into three parts.

1.)  “Advertising does not help anyone in funeral service”

If advertising does not help anyone in funeral service then why do most funeral home owners cite their website as their most important tool of reaching new families?

2.)  “it is reputation and previously served”

If reputation and previously served were  requirements for funeral success, then why are so many new minimal service providers siphoning off calls from 100 year old firms that clearly have a more established reputation and file cabinets full of previously served families?

3.)  “But you would not understand that for you are not a funeral service provider.”

Ok, I’ve been put in my place.  I have no business helping funeral homes be more successful because I’ve never sat across from a family.   My guess is neither has his website provider,  the manufacturer of his fleet or hey…even the CEO of the company he buys his caskets from. All NOT funeral directors and all who eat only by helping him serve more families, better.

But, Mr. Tunnel Vision is right,  I am not a funeral service provider.  I’ve never made arrangements or met a broken family in a hospital hallway.  I’ve never made a 3:00 AM removal or embalmed a body (although I’ve spent countless hours in prep rooms talking shop while funeral directors worked).

However, what I do have, and what might be valuable to someone eager to learn and grow, is the purview from being in funeral homes across the country and seeing what is working and what is not working.  An insight into how funeral homes in small markets with low cremation rates to metro areas with 75% cremation are handling, adapting and ultimately succeeding in the shifting sand.

A narrow-minded view of the future or your fixation on doing only what made you successful in the past will hurt you.  Guaranteed.

But I digress,  I am not the professional.  The cremation rate, those sacrilegious people, the discounter down the street, the cheapskate children around the arrangement table.   Those.  Those! Those are all the reasons your business is not growing.

It has nothing to do with your tunnel vision.   My bad.


Disclaimer:  This is not sour grapes from a dejected salesperson.  It’s an observation of a correlation between tunnel vision and the negative velocity of some funeral businesses.


Ellery Bowker is the CEO of Directors Advantage and founder of Preneed Builders , a suite of done-for-you marketing tools for funeral homes.  He can be reached