Avoid this marketing mistake


One of my clients has an interesting situation.

Whenever one of his competitors sends out a preneed mailer, my client’s phone starts ringing.

People are calling to schedule a time to come in and talk about prearranging. As a result, his preneed business has continued to grow while his competitor pays the marketing bill.

But how is this possible?

Sadly, this situation is quite common in the funeral industry. In this newsletter, I’ll explain the problem and the solution.

In a previous article, I wrote about the 4 M’s of Marketing – Market, Media, Moment, and Message.

Target a Market, using the right Media, at an appropriate Moment, with the correct Message, and you will have an effective marketing campaign.

My client’s competitor is targeting households in the local market. So far, so good.

They’re using postcard mailers as the media. That’s usually a reasonable choice of media.

They’re sending postcards during a pandemic. That’s turned out to be a great choice of Moment because right now, a lot of people are getting their affairs in order.

The Message on the postcards outlined the generic benefits of preplanning on one side and the funeral home’s contact information on the other. That, my friends, is the root of the problem.

The competitor is doing an excellent job of reminding people that they should preplan, but their generic message fails to make a case for why someone should preplan with their particular funeral home.

A mailer like that is going to generate preneed leads for every funeral home in the market. That’s very generous of our competitor, but it’s not a wise use of their marketing budget.

The problem is simple….generic messages do not work and are a waste of your money.

Here’s an easy way to tell if you are using a generic message. It’s called the “cross out and write in” test

Take any piece of your marketing (mailer, radio ad, billboard, etc.) and cross out the name of your funeral home. Now write in the name of a competitor.

Is the message still basically valid? If so, you’re using a generic message.

In the case of this preneed mailer, you can change the name of the funeral home, and the benefits of preplanning are still the same. Therefore, it’s a generic message.

Let’s say you have a radio ad that talks about how the caring and professional staff members at your family-owned funeral home are available to assist local families. Cross out your name, write in the name of your competitor. Is it still valid? In most cases, the answer is yes, and the marketing piece is too generic.

The “cross out and write in” test. If your marketing pieces fail this test, you are wasting your money.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s simple. Never use a generic message. Instead, make sure that everything you say to your local market builds a case for your funeral home.

Never make the case that all funerals are good. Make the case that your funerals are good and give people specific, believable reasons.

The same applies to your preneed marketing. Never make a case for preplanning without explaining why they should preplan with your funeral home.

If you want people to call your funeral home instead of a competitor, you must connect the dots for them.

Yes, it takes a little more work upfront because someone needs to develop a marketing case for your business. But if you don’t do the work, you’re wasting your marketing budget.

There are plenty of creative agencies that sell generic marketing campaigns to funeral homes. For the most part, they are a complete waste of money.

One of my first tasks as a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for funeral home owners is to build the marketing case for their business. I do the upfront work so that marketing effectiveness goes up and the business grows.

By the way, you might have noticed that I didn’t give out the name of this particular client. That’s because we’re hoping our competitor sends out more generic preneed mailers in 2021. They’re working great for us!

Until next time

John

PS: Do you have a marketing case for your funeral home? If not, schedule a time for us to chat.

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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