By Rilee Chastain
There’s nothing like the start of a new year to give businesses a clean slate. Along with a budget reset, the turning of the calendar page signals a time to refresh everything else, including your marketing efforts and the services you offer.
It’s hard to miss the ubiquitous list articles in virtually every industry, detailing what professionals need to know in order to be successful in the new year. And as a funeral professional, you might scroll right past articles like ‘Top 10 Wedding and Event Trends’ or ‘5 Video Trends For 2017,” assuming that these kinds of posts have nothing to do with your role as a funeral director. But when you look a little closer, you might find that those gems of wisdom from the wedding magazine or small business handbook are more valuable to your profession than you think.
After all, as a funeral professional, you’re at the helm of an event firm, a small business, a customer service agency…and the list goes on.
And no, tailored advice about what bridal gown color is so hot this year might not exactly provide the takeaways you’re looking for… but there’s much to learn about how to optimize your marketing strategy, digital presence, customer service practices, and business operations from these trend articles currently making their rounds online.
Take a look at these eight trends we see emerging in 2017 in other professions, and see how you can adapt them to take your funeral home and the services you offer to the next level this year.
Borrow These Tactics From the Wedding & Event Planning Industry
1. Infuse color and creativity. More and more brides and grooms are opting for more color and less traditional touches in the decor and attire of their weddings, and the results are more fun, personal events. However, traditional funerals have seldom strayed from a muted color palette and left little room for customization.
Thankfully, today’s families are beginning to understand and appreciate the value of personal touches in their loved ones’ funeral services. Personalization is at the top of the must-have list for families wanting to honor someone in a meaningful way, and providing space for imaginative details and encouragement to be bold and creative in funeral arrangements can set your firm apart.
2. Embrace digital. Back in the day, a traditional wedding invitation included roughly 87 sheets of paper. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a high estimate… but let’s just say that the way people used to do invites was far less than environmentally-friendly. But now a more eco-conscious generation is rising to the top of the consumer base for many industries, and as a result, more of what was traditionally done on paper is going digital. Not only is this great for cutting down on clutter, but it also makes it easier for families (and funeral homes) to reach a wider audience with their print materials in a more convenient and cost-effective way.
Your funeral home can hop on this trend with your announcements, obituaries, marketing and promotional materials, and more. Consider going digital for not only your funeral service offerings, but also your professional dealings, including accounts payable and receivable. In many cases, taking the paper out of the equation also saves you time and money—not to mention a trip to the post office, when your time is better spent interacting with client families or supporting your employees.
Steal These Techniques From Small Businesses & Customer Service
3. Outsource the tech details. Some people just have a knack for the ones and zeros. But other people find generating a digital invoice or updating a web page about as difficult as speaking Mandarin. And even if you don’t fall into the latter camp, necessary business tasks take up a lot of time that you might prefer to spend with your client families or bettering your staff’s ability to meet their needs.
You already know how important it is to have a digital presence in 2017… your website is not only the first place where families look to learn about your services, but it’s also your families’ primary resource for learning about the value of funerals. So if your funeral home isn’t already taking the steps to beef up your online presence with website templates, custom solutions, and other great resources for meeting your families needs, click here to talk with one of our f1Connect website success specialists on how you can get started.
4. Start talking to Millennials. Millennials are no longer college kids or such a big question mark for the workforce. Not only are they phasing out Baby Boomers as the largest portion of the employment pool, they’re rapidly changing consumer behavior and buying habits. You may not understand their preoccupation with Snapchat and craft beer, but as a professional and a customer service provider, you do need to figure out how to engage with Millennials on a personal and business level. From offering affordable service options to developing a social media presence to actually hiring Millennials to work in your firm, this faction is worth talking to even more in 2017.
5. Be Transparent with Value and Pricing. If a family finds your website, what are they able to learn before they have to pick up the phone or make a trip to meet with you in person? So much of commerce and consumer research takes place online, and we’re not talking about posting a phone number to call with questions. People want to see information, compare services and know what to ask about before they are ready to buy.
Of course, in the funeral profession, the in-person element and discussion portion is critical. But before you can convince a family to give your funeral home the responsibility of creating a meaningful tribute for their loved one, you need to educate them on the value of the services and products you provide.
Pick Up These Tips From Video & Online Marketing Pros
6. Don’t be afraid to stream. In an age where people can work together without ever meeting, “being there” has taken on a whole new meaning. Thanks to the wonder of live video streaming, relationships and events can take place everywhere and anywhere. It may still feel a little futuristic, but introducing a streaming element to your funeral services is one way to borrow the trend in order to serve families whose loved one touched lives near and far.
Perhaps grandpa traveled often for business, or spent years living on the other side of the country. It’s not rare anymore for folks to have long-distance connections, and those people may feel disappointed that they can’t show their support for the family or share their memories of their dear friend. Consider how you can incorporate live video to give everyone an opportunity to share a meaningful moment with their loved one.
7. Get social with video. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are major marketing tools you’ve already learned can help build your business and support your efforts to reach and connect with new clients. Photo sharing is great, but video is better. Utilize these popular tools to show a personal side of your profession and cultivate a relationship with the people who search your firm online or stumble across your social media accounts. These quick social media apps let you give a peek into your day or processes, share sneak peeks of new service offerings, make announcements in an exciting way, and so much more.
8. Tell complete stories. Video content is king. Businesses of all kinds are realizing this, and the uses are endless. Using video to tell a story opens up a world of opportunity to foster a relationship with a potential client, or bring a family’s loved one back to life on screen.
Consider adding video descriptions of your services on your website or including a preview of the video themes you offer to your newsletter or email marketing campaign. And when it comes to design and create a beautiful celebration of life, turn toward video with Life Tributes software, which helps you create meaningful, moving tributes with ease.