Every year, more local business are promoting themselves online, but funeral home marketing continues to be a bit of an exception. As we wrap up 2016 and head into 2017, I’m hopeful that we’ll see more business owners in the death care industry become comfortable with investing their advertising budgets where they really matter in this digital age: on the internet.
The transition is happening. I’m thrilled to have worked with several wonderful funeral home owners and operators already, and I’m certain many more will be turning the corner soon. But if we’re being completely honest, this industry has been slower to move from transitional advertising and old-school community outreach to actively focusing on funeral home marketing techniques.
That’s understandable. Certain types of businesses are more traditional than others, and it’s not hard to understand why death care would fall under that umbrella. Sticking with older business models is common among various businesses that are smaller, local and often family-owned.
As I’ve noted before, change is hard. That’s human nature. And businesses are run, of course, by humans. It’s not easy to just switch from what you’ve been doing for year after year, decade after decade — even if it’s plainly not as effective as it used to be.
Many death care businesses are family-owned, so their practices have been handed down from generation to generation. Even when the older generations hand off day-to-day management to their descendants, they tend to remain involved. It can be tough, to put it mildly, for younger operators to chart a new path without upsetting the people who raised them.
However, the reality is this: Business is done on the internet now. Not just big business, not just online commerce, day trading, tech development, etc. Everyday brick-and-mortar businesses have had to accept that generating local business requires are vibrant online presence. It’s been going this way for much of the past decade. It simply continues to barrel down that path as we close in on the end of 2016.
With 2017 on the horizon, it’s imperative that local death care providers start becoming familiar with online funeral home marketing techniques. I’m not saying you have to retire all traditional advertising tools, but it’s indisputable that more people research business services online every year — and by the same token, fewer people pay attention to print ads and directories.
Here’s an obvious truism for every single industry on earth: Your clients are always getting older. The 18-25 demographic eventually becomes the 26-35 demo, the 26-35 demo becomes the 36-45 demo, and so on. And of course, people in the oldest demographics eventually pass away.
Look at the newspaper industry: It’s dying. Print newspapers are folding in large and small cities all over the country. That’s because people can now access virtually all the news they want to read on the internet.
While some people still subscribe to a local print newspaper — and are happy to tell you how much they like sitting back and reading it with their coffee in the morning — those numbers are dwindling quickly. And they tend to be older readers.
Younger people, particularly those who grew up with a personal computer in their homes — much less the tablets and smartphones everyone carries around 24-7 today — have no such affection for the newspaper. They can’t fathom wasting money on it.
And every year, those younger people get older. Older people who grew up with newspapers pass away. We’ll soon have whole generations who never had a newspaper land in their driveway, who never pulled one out of a box on corner for a quarter (or two, or three, or even four — it keeps going up).
To those generations, the newspaper will seem as archaic as a telegraph machine would to most people today. It’s an outmoded means of communication that’s come and gone.
This is why investing in online funeral home marketing is so important. The internet isn’t going anywhere, and if anything, the means to connect with it just become more pervasive. We can all access it at any time of day on laptops, on tablets, on smartphones — even on watches now. We can do it in the mountains, on the beach, in the depths of a forest, even in many deserts.
As the populace ages, the people researching both pre-need and at-need services are more likely to do so online. Their first step won’t be to look in a printed community directory or in the printed Yellow Pages.
They’re going to get on their phones or tablets and punch in “Dallas funeral home” or “Des Moines cremation” or “Pittsburgh mortuary.” Or they might not even include their location at all: Search engines such as Google and Yahoo figure that out for them. That’s where Americans present and future will be determining their local options for at-need and pre-need death care services.
And that’s why it’s so critically important for such businesses to invest in internet funeral home marketing tools. Having a high-converting website drives case counts. That website also needs to display properly and be easy to navigate on mobile devices such as smartphones. Search engine optimization ensures high ranking in on result pages. Pay-per-click advertising provides premium placement on the page — and has a return on investment that can’t be beat.
Frankly, here’s one of the best reasons for your business to take the plunge on online funeral home marketing: Many of your local competitors aren’t doing it. You can use the fact that this industry has been slow to evolve to your advantage. While they’re still going through the same old motions, you can be the market leader by actively promoting your business on the internet.
I realize there’s a lot to learn about this process, and that’s why Ring Ring Marketing prides itself on helping business owners through it with open communication and individualized campaigns. We’re always there to answer questions, revise processes and provide information on exactly how things are working.
Whenever you take on something new, it’s extremely important to trust the people you’re working with every step of the way. That’s why we do everything we can to win your trust and maintain it throughout a funeral home marketing campaign — and we always will.