The next problem we need to address


fear

Have you ever gone to a movie in the middle of the day?

My wife and I enjoyed doing that back when movie theaters were open (before covid ruined that for us).

We’d sit in a dark movie theater for a couple of hours, lost in the plot, and forget about everything going on in the world.

The movie would end, and we’d walk out into the sunshine, shielding our eyes as we readjusted to the “real world.”

I think that’s what the rest of 2021 is going to be like.

People will gradually emerge from hibernation, walk out into the sunshine rubbing their eyes, and have to readjust to the world. It would be a funny sight, but no one is laughing after the last year.

You’ve probably noticed that attendance at your visitations is way down. Most of my clients have seen about a 50% drop in attendance.

Will people automatically start coming to visitations again once they’ve been vaccinated? I doubt it.

The media has done a great job scaring the heck out of people, especially the elderly. After spending a year living in a constant state of fear, returning to old patterns will be difficult for many people.

That is the next problem we need to address. We have to find ways to help people feel safe attending visitations again.

I’ve always thought of visitations as marketing opportunities because you impact everyone who attends, not just the immediate family.

When people aren’t attending visitations, you miss out on the opportunity to impact families who may need you in the future. That’s a problem!

At the start of 2020, I had multiple clients who were on the verge of deploying service innovations that would have taken their funeral home to the next level. All of them put those initiatives on hold when covid hit.

Now, as covid is starting to release its stranglehold on society, it’s tempting to pick up right where we left off. But that would be a mistake.

First, we have to deal with the elephant in the room…fear.
Here are three steps that I think will help you address this issue.

Step 1 – Put your personal views in a box and lock them away.

At this point, it doesn’t matter what you think of Covid-19. You might think it’s a deadly plague and we’re lucky to be alive, or you might think that it’s a hoax. It simply doesn’t matter.

What matters is that some families are scared. Those are the people who are staying home instead of attending a visitation. Ignoring their fear won’t make it go away.

In a situation like this, it is easy to let your personal opinions impact your decisions. Don’t fall into that trap.

Step 2 – Take steps to make visitations safe.

All funeral homes have been operating under some form of state-mandated restrictions for the past year. As a result, some safety protocols are already in place. Yet, people still don’t feel safe.

So the question becomes….what else can you do?

Some of my clients have installed expensive UV filters on their furnaces, and others have been conducting open-air visitations.

What have you done to improve safety? Come up with a list of specific things you’ve done. Ideally, you should have some things on your list that your competitors don’t do.

By the way, webcasting of a visitation counts as a good safety innovation. If someone watches it from home and sees that people are comfortable attending, there’s a greater chance that they’ll take the leap next time.

Step 3 – Market your safety protocol.

Let’s say you have five things you have done to improve safety. You can package those up as your “Five-Step Safety Plan” and use it in your marketing.

Just advertising that you are here to help families at the time of a loss is not enough. You need a message that tells the public, “you’re safe at our funeral home.” Plus, you need to back it up with some reality (in other words…don’t make it up).

The advantage of having a multi-step safety plan is that each step can become a standalone ad. You might have one ad on your UV filters, another ad on your open-air visitations, and another on the heavy-duty sanitizer you’re using to clean surfaces.

My point is you will not solve this with one ad. You’ll need an ongoing campaign to overcome all of the fear created by the past year’s events.

If you need help creating an outstanding campaign, you know how to reach me.

Until next time

John

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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