A Beginner's Checklist: Make Sure Your Funeral Home's Next Event Is a Success
Posted March 7, 2018
9 min read
What do you need to consider when creating your next community event? And how you make sure you avoid any blunders while doing so?
We spoke with Jennifer Goldade, content writer for Frazer Consultants, about some of the top steps you can take to be sure your next event is successful. (Frazer Consultants, a CRäKN partner, helps funeral professionals reimagine the funeral experience for their families through websites, stationery, videos, and many more offerings.)
While it may not be a comprehensive list depending on how big your next event is, here are 10 of the top things you need to consider when planning your next event.
1. Know the rationale behind what you want to accomplish
Do you know the big picture aim when it comes to your event? Are you looking to inform people about the value of pre-planning a funeral, for example? Or are you looking to simply build visibility in the community, and perhaps the event itself won’t deal with death, dying or funerals?
Whatever the “why” might be driving your event, try to capture what your real, underlying aim is as a team, says Goldade. That will help make sure you are on-strategy with all your planning efforts.
It will also help the team to know what success really looks like, explains Goldade.
“Also, when planning these kind of community events, funeral professionals should keep in mind what matters most to their community,” she adds. After all, the event is about the people who are attending so you want to be sure it resonates with them!
“For example, if you’re planning an educational seminar, choose a topic they are most interested in, such as healthy ways to grieve a loss or how to pre-plan a funeral.”
2. Set clear objectives and goals
Now that you know the “why” behind your next event, start to plan your measurable objectives and goals. How many people do you want to come to the event? How and when will people be signed up by, ideally? Who is the core audience you want to attend?
How are your funeral home’s goals tied to the event goals? What actions, if any, should people take after or during the event?
If possible, you may want to look back at any past events. Consider what kind of budget you had for those events, and what kind of budget you have now; that’s one way to make sure your goals and objectives are realistic.
3. Make sure you have the resources to pull it off
Hopefully, by spending that extra time up-front by setting goals and being realistic about the resources you have to do so, you’re avoiding a common mistake people make when event planning: not realizing the amount of resources needed to plan, market, and then execute a compelling event!
At this point, you know a great deal more about the budget, and the kind of outcomes you are seeking, says Goldade. Now have a serious look at whether or not you have the resources to plan and execute this kind of event, she says. “Make sure you have the staff and resources available, and if not, be sure to adjust.”
4. Delegate wherever you can
If you don’t have all the resources you will need, maybe it’s a matter of scaling back your goals-and your event. But also, be sure you are delegating as much as you can. For some, it can be hard to let go, but it’s especially critical for funeral directors to bring in help as much as they can.
“You will need to delegate positions to your funeral home’s staff to make sure everything gets done, which means they could be pulled off other work. That’s important to remember,” she explains. Goldade has seen some successful events happen where funeral homes hire an intern or part-time person just for a specific event. That way, there is someone who can be fully responsible, making sure the event gets the attention it deserves.
5. Take advantage of partnerships
“By partnering with a local business, brand, a person, or organization, it makes planning the event much easier,” explains Goldade. “You can split up the work load and pool together your resources. It also can help with expenses, schedule planning, and spreading the word about your event.”
Recently Goldade saw an example of this in which a well-known grief counselor came in and gave a talk at a funeral home. It served purely as an educational seminar and didn’t directly require mentioning anything about the funeral’s services.
Since each organization (or brand) is going to be inviting and drawing people from their network, the group of people you are marketing to is broader with this approach. “You both have different groups of people you can invite and potentially find some new leads for your funeral home, if that’s your aim,” explains Goldade.
6. Don’t neglect marketing
One of the biggest mistakes people make when putting on an event: not realizing the amount of time and resources it will require from a marketing and communication perspective. Make sure you not only have an event plan, but you need a comprehensive marketing plan for the event.
Your plan should include:
- Pre-event steps and tactics
- Last-call activities
- During event activities
- Any post-event follow-up
Common tactics to promote events include:
- Social media
- Blogging and thought leadership development
- Email campaigns
- Direct mail campaigns
- Promotion on community calendars
- Press and media outreach
- Paid promotion and paid placements of ads
- Phone calls
7. Set a schedule early-on
Often times, the sooner you can set a day-of schedule, the better off you will be in terms of planning. Again, be sure to think of your target audience when creating that schedule. “You also should decide if you’re partnering with any local businesses and guest speakers. Then, choose a date, time, and location for your event. Consider where and when works best for your community. For a seminar, some people may prefer a late morning or afternoon time, for example,” says Goldade.
That can be as simple as the following example:
1 p.m. - Welcome announcement, introduce speaker 1:10 p.m. - Speaker begins first half of presentation 1:40 p.m. - Short break with light refreshments 1:50 p.m. - Speaker begins second half of presentation 2:20 p.m. - Open the floor for any questions 2:30 p.m. - Closing message, invite people to stay after for additional questions
“Once you’ve got an agenda, even if a simple one, that’s when you are able to being to invite guests and begin to promote your event,” says Goldade.
8. Get creative!
What will make your event different? What will make it worth talking about, and attending again?
Try to create some element that will make it stand out. Giveaways are a tactic Goldade’s seen that can not only help draw people in, but it can keep the energy high during an event: “People like free things, so it’s another simple way to gain event attendance. For example, when a restaurant wants you to order their dishes, they offer free samples. Or, they may have a contest to win a gift card to their restaurant. Funeral homes can take a similar approach, whether it’s a free memorial keepsake or free preplanning consultation,” she says.
9. Get social…as in social media!
While your marketing plan will include social media in general, it might also be beneficial to create a Facebook event, too. It’s free, easy to use, and helps you to draw in people in your local community. Those who are attending and RSVP on the Facebook event also have the ability to invite their friends, which is part of why it’s a tactic you don’t want to neglect.
“It’s an easy, effective way to promote your event and grow attendance,” says Goldade.
During your event, don’t stop the social media posts: just think, people are going to see the posts and get excited about the content you have to offer. Not only will event attendees be engaged with that content you share, but it’s going to help you market your next event.
10. Don’t forget to gather feedback for next time
When your event is over, don’t forget to follow-up with attendees and get their feedback, says Goldade. You did everything in your power to create a flawless experience, but getting quick and timely feedback is the real secret to success for your next event.
In terms of getting that feedback, you can give them a quick “thanks” for attending, while also providing attendees value. To do so, send them any follow-up materials you have, such as videos, additional presentation materials, books, links, resources, etc. Or, you can send them something as simple as photos from the event-which they should be expecting from you when they receive it. By giving them something that is perceived as valuable, your communication with them isn’t just asking them for more of their time!
When gathering feedback about their perception of the event, here is a starting point for what you can uncover:
- Overall perception of the event
- What they thought about the time, location, content, speakers, food, etc.
- What they enjoyed most and what had room for improvement
- How likely or not they are to attend future events
- Any other ways you can improve future events (more open-ended)
Every event is going to have an area in which it can improve. Hearing first-hand about how you can improve gives you data to improve your next experience.
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