How To Connect With Families Before They Even Need A Funeral
Originally Published on the funeralOne Blog
No one gets cold-shouldered more than funeral professionals.
In fact, it’s almost impressive just how good families are at ignoring the funeral profession all together… They drive past the funeral home on their way through town and look right past it. They spot one of the local funeral directors running errands and turn their head the other way.
It’s not until the unfortunate moment that they need the help of a funeral director that they actually acknowledge that they exist and that they can be of some assistance to them. And that’s a huge problem for funeral professionals.
Why? Because unlike with any other major life purchase or event, families don’t have a lot of time to comparison shop an immediate-need funeral service or weigh one funeral home’s value against their competitors. Either they contact a funeral home in town that they already have a positive association with, or they search Google to find the closest / cheapest / highest-rated funeral home in town.
So unless you’re sure that your funeral home can check all of those boxes, it’s essential that you get in front of the eyes of your families before they even need to plan a funeral. That way, when the time comes that they need your services, you’ll already be top of mind and your value will undeniable. Here’s how you can do just that…
1. Sponsor Relevant Events In Your Town
In every community, there are endless opportunities for celebration and remembrance each year. Whether it’s a holiday, such as Memorial Day or Mother’s Day, or even a local community event, like the retirement of a city official or the senior class graduation at the local high school, there are a number of ways that funeral home’s can sponsor celebration and memory sharing in their community.
One of our favorite ways to show off your value in a subtle, celebratory way is to volunteer to create beautiful, cinematic memorial videos for different events that happen in your town. For example, if a notable figure in your community is retiring, ask family and friends to submit their favorite photos and videos from the community member’s years of service. You can then compile all the meaningful imagery that you get into a moving memorial video that can be played at their retirement party, or that can be given as a surprise gift to commemorate their impact on the community.
Not only is this a great way to show off your unique services to the members of your community, but it also puts your funeral home front and center in people’s minds as someone who can help them celebrate and personalize their loved one’s life when the time comes.
2. Share Educational Content With Your Community
One of the single best ways to get families to think of you first when it comes time to plan a funeral service is to be the go-to resource in your community for end-of-life education.
Think about it… let’s say that the local heart doctor in your community was constantly posting articles and sharing links about maintaining a healthy heart, or posting photos and recaps of everything they learned at the recent cardiatric conferences they were attending. If the time came that you needed to see a heart doctor, you would likely think of this doctor first, because their posts and shares keep them top of mind. And even if you didn’t read every article they posted, you would still think of them as the best person in your community to help you, because you associate them with the educational, informative articles that they posted.
The same goes for becoming the go-to expert for everything funerals in your community. If you regularly share content with your community about funeral trends, end-of-life resources, and grief support advice, they will begin to think of you first when it comes to funeral-related topics… including who they should turn to when they need to plan a funeral.
3. Host Events At Your Funeral Home
Earlier we wrote about how funeral professionals can sponsor local community events in order to get in front of the eyes of their families. But your funeral home doesn’t have to sit around waiting for a holiday or someone else’s special event to come around before you can connect with your local community. You can host an event yourself!
After all, funeral homes are one of the best places in town for encouraging celebration and storytelling, bringing communities together, and comfortably hosting large groups of people. So why wouldn’t it make sense to host non-funeral celebratory events in your space as well?
Your options are limitless when it comes to what types of events would make sense for your funeral home to host. For instance, you could host holiday celebrations, bring in guest speakers on topics like pre-planning or grief support, sponsor memory celebration workshops, invite local businesses in for meetings or company parties, or any other related occasion.
Any event that helps your community feel comfortable and familiar with your staff, and opens up their minds to the celebratory possibilities of your funeral home, is an event worth pursuing.
4. Form Relationships With Other Grief and End of Life Professionals
When it comes to expanding your reach in the community, networking is key. Think about all of the people that your families are interacting with before and after they come to you for help with their loved one’s funeral service… hospice workers, doctors and nurses, first responders, grief counselors, insurance agents, cemetery workers, religious community members, and on and on. Each of these professionals have their own network of families that they work with, and may already be making recommendations to them on which funeral home in town they should visit for their end-of-life needs.
Do the grief and end of life professionals in your community have a reason to recommend your funeral home to the families they serve? If not, reach out and give them one. Even something as simple as dropping off coffee and introducing yourself, or sharing educational materials to answer any common questions they have about funeral service can help make you stand out from the funeral director down the street.
However, networking is not a one-way street. Make sure that if you are actively reaching out to end-of-life professionals in your community that you are listening to their needs, as well as informing them of your own. A great partnership is one that benefits both the families you serve and the other death-care professionals in your community.