Bringing your marketing blueprint to life requires a solid plan but also the flexibility to try new things and change what doesn’t work.
I recently finished a book in which the main character and I shared a few things in common. We both love football and we both use algorithms in our careers. Her algorithms were focused on using data to analyze and predict game strategies and mine are focused on crafting the appropriate elements for a marketing strategy. Now, if only I could also marry the star NFL quarterback like she did… But I digress.
Every marketing and social media platform uses an algorithm, and whether you like it or not, you need to understand it to be successful in marketing your funeral home or cemetery business. The algorithms determine which content people see every time they check the specific platform and in what order that content shows up.
Is it sometimes a bit unfair? Yes, but like they say, “That’s showbiz, baby!” While we will never know the exact formulas of the algorithms (those are hidden under several locks and keys), you will want it to know that your content is beneficial, genuine and worth serving up to your audience. This is especially important when working on any Google campaign as well.
To make matters just a bit worse, the algorithms are not static. They are changed and updated frequently based on the behaviors they see from their end users. Actually, this isn’t really a bad thing; it tells us that your social media and marketing strategy needs to be extremely solid but also fluid and adaptable.
A successful strategy must have a solid foundation, incorporate new elements that match what client families are demanding from you as owners and operators of funeral homes and cemeteries, and have the capabilities to change and let go of things that do not work for your business model.
The one piece of advice I offer as a marketer myself is that social media and digital marketing tools such as Google are meant to work for you, not against you.
Every Build Needs a Blueprint
Just as every house needs a blueprint to get started, every business, regardless of its segment, needs a cohesive marketing strategy to engage with their audience enough so that they will engage with you when the timing is right. This holds true for funeral homes and cemetery businesses. Having this plan in place allows you to focus on marketing initiatives that will effectively promote your funeral and cemetery business to achieve results.
Your strategy should encompass as many marketing channels as possible in order to have the most exposure to your audience, whether it’s social media campaigns, Google AdWords and Display Ads, or even traditional mailers. The more reach you have, the better, especially when it’s done right and executed properly.
Here are a few components to what I feel is a solid marketing strategy.
Define Your Audience
Before creating the marketing and social media strategy for your funeral home or cemetery, it is vital to understand your audience. To begin, identify the demographics, interests and behaviors of your target client family. I know there will be several personas, and that is absolutely fine as not every family will be the same. By having these clearly defined, you will develop the correct message and voice to appeal to them.
Select The Right Social Media Platforms
Simply put, different platforms appeal to different audiences. For a funeral home or cemetery, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are great avenues to explore for sharing announcements, as well as photos and videos of services, whereas TikTok might not be as appealing. When working on your social media, remember what I said earlier about working with the algorithm and not against it. Create quality content that is authentic, transparent and relevant.
Create Your Content Plan
Developing your content plan will help you stay organized and keep you aware of all upcoming marketing initiatives and campaigns. A robust plan is one that includes a mix of informational posts (think of posts such as details on burial options and preneed programs), news and announcements about your funeral home or cemetery, and community events.
One element I highly recommend for your content plan is the sharing of stories and testimonials (with permission) from families you have served to help build trust and credibility with your audience. Transparency and trust go hand in hand for today’s funeral and cemetery consumer. In fact, if you are not transparent, today’s consumer will not even consider doing business with you. If you want a loyal audience, you must be authentic.
Be Sensitive to The Emotional Nature of The Business
This is something that should be a given, but I’ve decided to write about it anyway. As funeral home and cemetery owners and operators, you are faced with sensitive and emotional situations day in and day out. It’s important to be respectful and empathetic in all communications, avoiding anything that might be considered offensive or inappropriate.
Treat each social media and marketing campaign like you would treat a client family you are serving. When using social media for your business, it’s important to remember that your online persona should be a carbon copy of your in-person demeanor. After all, there’s always the possibility that a client has seen you on social media first and does business with you second.
In my very first article in The Director, titled “Build Your Brand” [April 2021], I wrote about the importance of knowing your audience and knowing the times. In simple terms, “read the room.” You want to show that you care about your audience and wish to help them.
Engage and Communicate With Your Audience
Everyone wants to feel that they are both seen and heard. When establishing your marketing strategy, set some standard operating procedures around communicating with your audience in a timely fashion. Respond to any comments on your posts and direct messages promptly. This will help build the trustworthiness of your business, strengthen relationships with client families and encourage a sense of community.
Analyze and Measure Your Results
One of the best things about using marketing tools and social media platforms is that they each come fully equipped with comprehensive analytic sections to show your performance. Using the analytics features help you measure the success of your efforts, as well as, sometimes, the failures, allowing you to fully understand what’s working and what’s not. From there, you can make adjustments to the strategy as needed.
Employee Advocacy Could Be The New Secret Sauce
I make it my continuing goal to learn the new trends in marketing so I can do my job well and educate our profession. One common trend is the rise of employee advocacy, in which funeral homes and cemeteries tap into their own workforce to become creators. Companies that have already implemented advocacy programs have seen an increase in brand awareness and qualified job applicants. They also have a better handle on their brand messaging and thought leadership. This can easily transfer to our profession as well. My prediction is that employee advocacy will become the new go-to of building brand presence and loyalty.
Harsh but true, your employees have more credibility and authority with the social media algorithms than your brand page does. This is because they have more credibility and authority with their own community, which will help expand your reach and build your brand’s credibility. Give them resources and training to help them spread your brand’s message on social media to extend your targeted audience.
Overall, a marketing and social media strategy for a funeral home or cemetery should aim to build trust, provide comfort and support, and create a sense of community. By being sensitive and responsive to the needs of your audience, you can build a strong online presence that supports your business goals.
When talking marketing strategies, it’s important to note that they do not happen overnight. They are a slow burn, and it may take weeks or months to see return on your investments. I also fully understand that as owners and operators of funeral homes and cemeteries, your day-to-day is focused on running your businesses and serving families. All I ask is that you dedicate some time and resources to your marketing strategy. If you honestly can’t, that’s okay as there are a variety of suppliers within our space that can help you bring your marketing blueprint to life.