Stay in Your Lane!


funeral home marketing - direct mail

I’ve learned over the years that it’s a good idea to “stay in your lane.”

If you’re not familiar with that phrase, it’s often defined as sticking to what you know and are good at, especially when giving advice.

Recently a client sent me an article written by the founder of a funeral home social media company. The article’s photo showed him standing in front of a USPS truck, holding a sign that read “Direct Mail Campaigns Don’t Work.”

Really? Direct mail doesn’t work? That’s news to me.

I assume the person holding the sign understands social media. He’s built a good company with a sizable customer base. He must know something about social media, right?

But seriously….stay in your lane.

Understanding social media does not make someone a direct mail expert or vice versa. Those are two completely different marketing worlds.

Can direct mail be a waste of money? Absolutely!

Can social media be a waste of money? Absolutely!

Every marketing tool can be a complete waste of money if you use it wrong.

In this newsletter, I’ll outline how to create a direct mail campaign that does work.

To use direct mail properly, you need to understand its’ purpose. It’s not about building relationships or top-of-mind awareness; it’s about getting someone to take action.

The beauty of direct mail is that the outcome is measurable. We simply count the number of people who took the desired action and calculate a Return on Investment (ROI).

Here are the steps for creating a direct mail campaign that does work.

  1. Define the action you want people to take
  2. Design your direct mail pieces
  3. Print and deliver your pieces
  4. Measure response
  5. Determine next step

In step #1, you set your sites on an outcome. The key is that you want to be able to put a monetary value on the result. For example, if it takes ten new leads to generate one new preneed contract worth $1,000 in commissions, then each lead is worth 1000/10= $100.

In step #2 you design the pieces you want to mail. This is where a lot of campaigns fail.

If the designer does not have a clear understanding of direct response marketing concepts, they may create something that looks good but will never generate a positive ROI.

Step #3 is often the expensive part. You have to print the individual pieces, create the list of recipients, and mail them.

Depending upon the nature of the campaign, you might have a targeted list such as all veterans within ten miles of the funeral home or a broader target of every household in your zip code.

Step #4 is the easiest but most important step; simply count the results. If you cannot count the results, you didn’t do a good job on step #1.

Step #5 is where your marketing advisor earns their money by helping you decide the next step.

If your ROI didn’t even cover printing and delivery (step #3), you need to go back to Steps 1 and 2 and reevaluate your desired outcome and your direct mail piece’s design.

But if you have a positive ROI that paid for the printing and delivery plus a portion of the initial design work, you have a potential gold mine on your hands.

Direct mail should always be thought of as a mining process. You are looking for a vein of gold. When you find one, you work it until the vein runs dry.

One great example is the preneed direct mail surveys Precoa sends to millions of households every year.

They target households in your area in which someone over 65 resides. They send a survey about funeral arrangements, offer a free planning guide, and include a return postage envelope.

People return the surveys, and a certain percentage check the box requesting the planning guide. Those individuals are then handed off to a preneed salesperson.

Enough leads are generated to keep the salesperson busy writing preneed contracts.

Commissions cover the cost of the mailing and pay for the salesperson.

Rinse, repeat, and follow the vein of gold.

The bottom line is that direct mail does work if you know what you are doing.

But if you don’t know what you are doing, then our disruptive social media expert is right….direct mail campaigns don’t work.

Until next time

John

PS: You’ll never find me holding up a sign saying, “social media doesn’t work.” I can be very opinionated, but I generally try to stay in my lane.

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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