3 Strategies to Better Market to Non-Traditional Families

Posted August 8, 2018

5 min read

Ethan Darby’s family opened its first memorial park more than five decades ago.

Fast-forward to today, and the family owns seven funeral homes.

What’s more: Darby is now Marketing Director at Trigard, Sunset Funeral Homes, Memorial Park, and Hall of Fame Plaques and Signs.

He says his family has learned many lessons over that time span, but one lesson that stands out is the need to constantly innovate and adapt to the marketplace.

And, explains Darby, part of that has to do with the way you market and position yourself with families.

“Our industry is changing very quickly. It’s changing in a way that’s going to make sustainability for funeral homes more difficult. Margins are becoming slimmer and labor costs are going up. Looking ahead, we have to be sure to change and adapt to better serve the non-traditional market,” explains Darby.

Here are 3 strategies Darby shared that your firm can use to stay innovative and to better market to non-traditional families.

1. Be intentional about sharing your message

It takes a great deal of intention to re-position yourself in the marketplace, but the effort is worth it, says Darby.

“Creating value, and being proud of what you do is important with families. Use any opportunity you can to talk about what you do with families, and how you’ve helped families in the past,” he says.

Educational seminars are a great way to teach families about their options while promoting your brand at the same time, explains Darby. “Holding these seminars at your facility allows the public to enter your building at a time when emotions aren’t at a high level. They are thinking clearly and making rational decisions when they come to these meetings,” he says.

It’s also important to promote your competitive advantage while you educate and inform non-traditional (and traditional) families. For example, you can take a tour of your facility or explain the steps of a process to create value for those families.

You can also think of other ways you can start these consistent conversations in your community. Other places you can be intentional about your message to families include:

  • Your building(s), including signage
  • Website
  • Social media channels
  • Emails
  • Traditional mail
  • Advertisements (digital, newspapers, local publications, etc.)

Darby says it is important to remember that a consistent message amongst staff members is vital to proper education. “Training, conventions, seminars, and webinars are great ways to keep your staff up-to-date while maintaining a consistent message,” he says.

2. Show families how you are an expert

Funeral directors can also embrace the idea that they are the “go-to” resource for families. “That knowledge you have is educational and is comforting to the family, too,” says Darby.

Whether you are sharing experiences, sharing stories, relevant examples or opportunities, or other information with families—all of this shows you are an industry expert.

Don’t shy away from showing this kind of experience and expertise that you truly do offer your families.

“The point is to look at yourself as an expert and to actively fill that role with your client families.” In the end, those insights you share and that process you walk them through is what will give families value.

3. Use strategic questions to help families think in a different way

One of the ways you can continue to educate and inform your non-traditional families is through questions that help them ponder and consider things in a new way.

For example, strategically placed questions can help open up the dialogue and it can help a family member or loved one think about more than just price.

“Maybe a person comes in, and price is all they are thinking about. Maybe the question asked is, ‘Does your loved one have family and friends that may benefit from a viewing?’” explains Darby.

The end result is that these questions can help them start to think differently, and it can help them see new possibilities and even a bigger picture. “You are not ‘up-selling’ the person, either. Rather, you’re asking some simple questions that can help them think about things in a different light,” says Darby.

If you start to ask more questions to help families arrive at healthier decisions, be sure your staff are on the same page as you. “It’s an entire culture shift. We’ve been working on it here as well. It’s a conscious effort to change an entire culture with this kind of approach,” explains Darby.

Changing the Way Things Have Always Been Done

Darby says that you don’t want to be afraid to challenge and change the way things have always been done at your funeral home. That might be operations, that might be your business model, and it might be the way you market to traditional and non-traditional families.

“You could say our profession has a very complicated, difficult problem to solve, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to solve it. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to initiate change and find progress, no matter where we are at today,” explains Darby.

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