4 Ways You Can Increase Trust Through Marketing
Posted February 19, 2020
7 min read
Guest post by Welton Hong
For a funeral home, credibility is literally everything.
There’s no way to overstate that fact. Funeral service is one of a handful of industries where if you don’t have credibility and maintain it throughout the lifespan of your business, you effectively don’t have a business.
Think about it: In how many other business types is credibility so critical?
There’s medical care, of course, especially regarding something major, such as oncology or open-heart surgery.
Also, there’s the legal system. Feel free to make your favorite lawyer joke here, but in all seriousness, there are many high-credibility lawyers out there, and you’ll certainly want one of the most credible representing you in a high-stakes matter.202
But funeral service is right up there. When a loved one passes, one of the first things a family wants to know is that the funeral director they’re working with, and the business itself, has exceptional credibility.
In this sense, I’m using credibility rather synonymously with trustworthiness, all of which is related to reputation. If a local funeral home has a bad reputation, obviously, it lacks trustworthiness and credibility. It simply won’t get at-need calls except from the most desperate and or budget-conscious families.
On the flip side, if a local funeral home has a sterling reputation, credibility and trustworthiness are implied. You can trust the care of your loved one to this firm. You know the funeral director, celebrant, and other staff will help you through this process. You can feel comforted in knowing everything will be handled professionally and with precise attention to detail.
Especially in 2020, credibility has a lot to do with digital marketing. And here’s why: Word of mouth isn’t what it used to be.
Fewer families choose at-need care through longtime family connections or their churches. Americans are simply more transient and less religious now, and those trends are unlikely to change.
In other words, you communicate your credibility to potential clientele in very different ways today. Primarily, you communicate it through your online reputation. Here’s how.
1. Understand How Your Website and Online Presence Convey Credibility
Today, far more people make their decision about funeral service by researching online. “Research” might sound a bit more complex than it is, because we’re usually just talking about a simple Google search for “funeral homes near me” or “burial in [town name here]” or “local cremation,” etc.
Your funeral home might have excellent “offline” word of mouth, but if that’s not conveyed through your website and other aspects of your online presence, you’re not conveying the great reputation you’ve built up.
It’s like having an amazing restaurant only a select few know about: You’ll have a handful of regular customers, but you won’t stay in business very long. You need to get the word out so that more people visit and discover the incredible food and service.
Today, you need to communicate your excellent reputation through digital means. It’s essentially a type of branding. Your website needs to convey credibility in a variety of ways.
2. Generate Many Positive Online Reviews
You need online reviews, and lots of them. It’s as simple as that. Every year, Americans trust online reviews more to help them determine the credibility of a given service, and this very much includes deathcare.
Consider a situation where you had a loved one pass unexpectedly and didn’t have any plans in place. You Google local funeral homes and discover firms with average ratings such as 3.1 stars or even 2.7 stars (on a 5-star scale). Would you trust the care of your loved one to such businesses?
Now, I realize that online reviews are frustrating for many business owners regardless of industry. They get upset with unfair negative reviews. They get upset that review platforms such as Yelp have a filter that sometimes “traps” legitimate positive reviews and essentially hides those reviews from the public.
Regardless, online reviews are here to stay. You can’t fight the system. You simply have to make the best of it. There are certain ways to mitigate the damage of negative reviews (and even have them changed or occasionally eliminated altogether), but the key principle is that you should work hard to generate positive reviews.
Generating reviews is a core aspect of overall online reputation, which also includes monitoring reviews across all platforms (such as Yelp, Google, Facebook) and all mentions of your business across the internet—and there are now completely automated processes to do this in real time.
It’s a myth that asking families for reviews is inherently unprofessional or rude. It simply has to be done at the right time and in the right way. Funeral directors are uniquely skilled at dealing with business manners in considerate, diplomatic ways—those same skills apply to soliciting reviews from families.
3. Display Your Reviews Prominently
In one sense, this is already done for you. Any Google reviews your business has received already appear prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs) and whenever people directly search for your firm. They’ll see your average review score and can immediately read any detailed reviews from your clientele.
Additionally, both Facebook and Yelp reviews now regularly appear on results on the Bing search engine, which is the default engine for the Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer web browsers.
That’s another reason why you can’t just ignore reviews—whether you like it or not, they’re going to represent your funeral home online. Your job is to accept this and do everything you can to control how you’re represented.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with including reviews on your website. You should display the best ones on your homepage and on a dedicated page of reviews. You can combine reviews and testimonials—the latter is another excellent way of establishing credibility and trust.
4. Credibility-Building Beyond Reviews
There are several other ways to establish credibility through your website. For example, if you’re a member of local organizations, include their logos and any additional information about your relationship on your site.
For example, if you’re a member of the Better Business Bureau in good standing, make sure that’s on there. Potential clients are naturally attracted to logos and symbols as a sort of shorthand for conveying credibility. A few logos can do more to convince certain people than thousands of words about your business!
Another great way to convey trustworthiness is to have a fully fleshed-out About Us page on your site. This isn’t simply a place to mention a couple of things about you and how long you’ve been in business. Take full advantage of this page.
Include high-resolution pictures of yourself and staff, along with biographies. People want to see faces and names. They want to know that you’re all real people, real members of the community.
I also always advocate adding a business profile video about one minute long on your About Us page. This lets families see you and your staff “in real life,” helping convey trust.
If you and/or members of your staff do volunteer work or have other types of community involvement, include those as well. If your business sponsors a local sports team, a youth activities group or a science fair, etc., get it on there! It’s remarkable how many businesses (in funeral service or otherwise) never think to include this information on their websites.
Finally, you can also display your expertise in funeral service by posting blog posts on your site or through other avenues, such as your Google My Business profile. In addition to bolstering your credibility, this has major SEO benefits in local rankings.
The overall lesson is that you should take advantage of every opportunity to burnish your online credibility in this digital age. It’s a massive factor in whether local families will select your firm for both at-needs and preneeds today and in the future.
About Welton Hong
Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing®, which helps deathcare firms generate more calls from the internet, and the author of Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Funeral Homes, 2019 Edition.
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