Three Simple Steps


Twenty-five years ago, I started my first business and needed to learn marketing to keep my sales funnel filled.

There’s nothing quite like spending your own money on something to make you quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t.

A little-known fact about me is that I have a degree in Mathematics. A marketing guy with an analytical brain…go figure. The analytical side of me is always searching for formulas or systems.

When I began studying marketing, I found a formula that has been around for over 100 years. In other words, it has outlasted all of the trends and is a good piece of foundational wisdom.

Effective marketing has three simple steps.

Step 1 – Have something good to say.

Step 2 – Say it well.

Step 3 – Say it often.

I was thinking about these steps this week while writing scripts for a series of television commercials for one of my clients.

Step 1 – Have something good to say.

It’s said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, “good” is the same way.

What you think is good is one thing, and what your customer thinks is good is another.

Most funeral home marketing defaults to a few common themes; family-owned, longevity, and character attributes.

Family ownership has potential as a theme, but you need to able to translate that into a benefit for the customer.

Longevity is something the GI generation cared about, but baby boomers don’t. That’s why I always avoid that theme.

Character attributes like professional, trustworthy, caring….won’t work. If you build your marketing around points like this, you are wasting your money.

Here’s why…

Character attributes are like the ante in a poker game. It gets you into the game, but it’s not enough to win the game.

My client has a funeral home/cemetery combination. They are the only combo in their market, so that automatically gives us something unique.

We decided to focus the TV ads on the benefits of using a combo. Step 1 complete…

Step 2 – Say it well.

This is where a lot of marketing people mess up. Fortunately, there’s another formula to follow.

Attention, Desire, Interest, Action

For an advertisement to be effective, whether it’s a Google Ad or a TV commercial, it must follow that formula. Get the audience’s attention, push a hot button that causes them to desire a solution, cultivate an interest in your unique solution, and invite them to take action.

But for the formula to work correctly, you have to be extremely careful with your choice of words. This is another point that amateur marketers get wrong.

Read the next two sentences…

1 – We have the only local funeral home located at a cemetery.

2 – Our funeral home is conveniently located in the heart of our beautiful cemetery.

They both make the same point, but sentence #2 uses more long adjectives.

I would use sentence #1, but most marketers would use sentence #2. The problem is that sentence #2 is targeted at the wrong reading level.

There’s a great tool called the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level that tells you the level of education someone will need to understand your writing. It’s available in MS Word under the Tools menu.

Sentence #1 has a grade level of 10.1. Sentence #2 is 12.1. That’s why I would choose #1.

Most people today are at least high school graduates, so writing for a grade 12 reading level should not be a problem, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, most people’s reading level peaks at around grades 8 or 9. That is why publications like the USA Today are written for a grade 8 reading level.

Check the content on your website. If the grade level is too high, people won’t read it. Anything above a grade 9 or 10 and even college-educated people will scan it but rarely read it word for word.

But this does not just apply to writing; it also impacts the spoken word. That’s why I pay attention to this issue even if I am writing the script for a TV commercial.

The scripts I wrote this week for my client were all between grades 7 and 8. Step 2 complete…

Step 3 – Say it often.

This is the expense step in advertising because this is where you pay for how often people see or hear your ad.

Media companies typically charge by how often they show your ad. They will ask where you would like to place your ad and how often you want to run it.

Repetition is important when it comes to advertising. Even the best ad rarely works the first time someone sees or hears it.

Here’s the key though…

If you do a bad job of Step 1 – Have something good to say and Step 2 – Say it well, it doesn’t matter how often you run the ad. It’s not going to connect with the audience and do anything to help your business grow.

But if you do a good job on steps 1 and 2, you don’t need to spend as much money running your ad so often.

I’ve had clients ask me to take down an ad because they couldn’t keep up with the pre-need leads being generated. That’s when you know you have done a good job on steps 1 & 2.

The commercials will be recorded in the next week or two. If you want to see the videos, let me know by replying to this email and I’ll send you a link once they’re ready for prime time.

That’s the three steps to marketing

Step 1 – Have something good to say.

Step 2 – Say it well.

Step 3 – Say it often.

The next time you are investing in advertising, make sure you follow those three steps. If you don’t, your media sales rep will enjoy their commission, but you won’t be doing anything to help grow your business.

Until next time…

John

PS: The big marketing firms in the funeral industry make a lot of money by earning a sales commission from the media company. They skip step 1, do a poor job of step 2, and make their money on step 3. I think that’s BS.

PPS: In case you’re curious, this newsletter is at grade level 6.4. I wasn’t aiming for a score that low, but after writing TV commercials all week, that’s just how it came out of me.

John Callaghan

Funeral Home Marketing Consultant - Strategic Planning, Direct Response Copywriting, Digital Marketing Services

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