On today’s show, we’ll be talking about how to get more leads from your funeral home website by causing shoppers to be genuinely interested in what you have to offer, and impressed by how you present yourself. There’s a lot to this topic, from understanding your audience to refining the specific types of information you are presenting on your funeral website. Do it right, and you will reap the rewards.
Topics discussed / In this video:
00:55 – How to get more leads from your website and be more interesting online
02:16 – How to boost the appeal of the website
03:20 – The outcome of having female audience on funeral homes to get leads
05:31 – Why Funeral home owners are not investing on the demand of website
05:51 – Three things about the general finding that says families don’t pick funeral home based on its website
10:15 – What price oriented family thinks and how important Websites are for funeral homes
12:14 – What can be done on Funeral Home Websites to get more leads. Websites are built to grow your business
13:47 – The effect of a funeral home’s ambiance
16:07 – What shoppers are looking for in funeral homes
18:06 – Things shoppers would want to know about having a great funeral
26:20 – Essential features for a funeral home website to get more leads
31:17 – The advantages of The Celebration of Life on a website
33:01 – What should and shouldn’t be included in a funeral home website
36:36 – Terms that you can use on your website
40:03 – Ways to make the female shopper feel less vulnerable
47:00 – Self-Assessment Report Card. Funeral Results Marketing will be having its first live conference in September or October
Website Content Self-Assessment Report Card
Links and Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Links to Previous Episodes Mentioned In This Episode:
02 – Funeral Home Websites Built With SEO From The Ground Up
03 – How To Use Website Analytics To Boost Your Website Performance
[00:00:39] Well, welcome to another episode of the Strategy Talks by Funeral Results Marketing and before getting into today’s topic I wanted to let you know to stick around to the end of the show to find out how you can get your free Self-assessment Report Card to help you with your website.
[00:00:55] Great Brian. So today we want to talk about how to get more leads from your website and how to be more appealing online and to help us do that, we’re going to do some Q&A with Brian here who has worked in the space for much of the last 10 years. So, Brian why does one website get more interest, more leads, more shopper calls than another website.
[00:01:18] That’s a good question, Rob. And really it’s just a matter of cause and effect. Because shoppers find your website. And then, after finding it because they saw and read what appealed to them, that’s what causes them to reach out to you. So obviously there’s two pieces there. There’s getting found and second, there’s been appealing.
And, I know a couple of weeks ago you talked about how to make your website more SEO friendly which is certainly all about getting found and I know the future podcast will discuss effective advertising method. So, those are other things that can help a person’s website and business to be found. But then, the question is what comes next. And that, that’s what we want to answer here today. How do we maximize the appeal of the website that shoppers go to after viewing that advertising. You know, is it all just about the design of your homepage, the graphics that it’s wrapped in or are there other ingredients in the recipe of a website’s appeal.
[00:02:16] And actually there are a lot of other ingredients. And that’s what we want to examine in our podcast today. Well I always like to start from the big picture and get the context and then delve into the details. You know, the death care industry is a male dominated industry but who is the target audience. And a lot of owners aren’t aware of just how large the target audience is on the female side of the line. 72 % of death care shoppers in America are women. And that number actually comes from a 2010 ICCFA Commission study they had performed by Rhonda Harper. She is marketing to women guru. She’s handled Wal-Mart’s accounts and written for Forbes and she’s a top CEO and marketing expert to women. And so that number isn’t surprising to the few people who were investigating that before but it was nice to hear from an outside source. Three quarters of all death care shopper in States are women.
[00:03:20] Well, that’s a really interesting stat and maybe it’s kind of shocking the first time you hear about it but it makes sense. So, what effect does having a female target audience have on your funeral homes ability to get leads and appeal to these shoppers.
[00:03:35] Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s hard to connect with a target audience unless you understand them, unless you understand what they want to learn, what they care about, what matters to them. And then you speak to those concerns and I want to get into some of the many specific things women are looking for as we go along here today.
[00:03:54] But first I think it would be viable to point something out. If we look at the types of information most funeral home websites don’t you find that it’s mostly about the same? I do.
[00:04:07] I hope you’ve seen that but I’ve looked at it you know I think probably several thousand over the last 10 years and I think it’s this lack of differentiation and lack of individual personality that’s been noticed by America not just online but offline. And I think the proof that comes out every time somebody says something like, “you know funeral homes are all about the same” or “I don’t like funeral homes” or “funeral homes are just expensive” and you know sadly that’s a lot of negative stuff. And I’ve never met a funeral home owner who likes to hear that but maybe your first thought upon hearing those things is, well the causes of those problems stems from a lot more than just the funeral homes having the same generic things on its website that other funeral homes have on their websites.
[00:04:55] And sure that’s true.
[00:04:56] That’s true but it’s also true that the website is one of, if not the easiest place to try to nullify and reverse those negatives and those negative opinions.
[00:05:11] They come to the website and they respond to advertising marketing they’re coming to websites first. Quite often we’ll talk about that a little bit more and I’ve only seen a few funeral home owner that are actually accepting that reality for the challenge it is. And for the opportunity that it is and really trying to make the most of it.
[00:05:31] OK then why do you think so few funeral home owners are thinking this way and not investing in the appeal of the website?
[00:05:39] Well I think there are several contributing reasons. The most often cited reason I hear is that the majority of families do not pick a funeral home based on its website and that is what the survey is for my industry’s top consulting firms have shown.
[00:05:51] But there’s at least three key things to note about that general finding. First, when we look at Google Analytics which we discussed in our podcast or too back, there’s tens, or scores, or in some cases hundreds of shoppers on a funeral home’s website each month. Now, a lack of phone calls from the shoppers doesn’t mean the funeral home didn’t get shopped. Also, many people decide to call it business if its website impresses them. And so, says a number of studies fact that’s actually not taught in a lot of business when one class is around the country they’re talking about the new phenomenon that the Internet has brought to commerce because it used to be advertising and a visit to a store, or a call on the phone. And now the vast majority of advertising results in a preliminary visit to a website or perhaps even a social media space like Facebook. And after that, if the shopper is pleased or satisfied then they’ll go on to the next step to visiting the store, contacting the store by phone or form, online form or e-mail. So you know, again, to go back just to recap three things about the general finding that says you know families don’t pick a funeral home based on its website. Well, first Google Analytics show there’s a lot of shoppers who are on funeral home website each month. Second, nearly all funeral home websites come from just four large template website providers at least in America. And you see their names in all the trade shows. So while the staff and pictures are quite different on most funeral home websites, the generic stock content that they come with is mostly the same for everybody across thousands of websites. So again, that’s a failure to stand out and impress. And since a lot of shoppers are coming into their first contact with your brand via your website, they’re seeing that you’re the same as everybody else.
[00:07:57] In fact, I remember when Alan Creedy said back in 2010, maybe even earlier, that for many families, the first experience they have with the funeral home now is with its website. And so, you know a lot of industry experts have noticed this over the years and there’s not a lot of content there that impresses. So that’s another reason I’m not surprised families don’t cite the website is as being the reason they picked the funeral home.
[00:08:24] But here’s the third reason and this is something you’ll find interesting. In the last two years, I’ve noticed a big increase in the number of website clients telling me each month that “hey, a family just told me they picked me because my website.” Now and you know in 2012, even 2014 I was only hearing that several times a year. You know, there was a few guys with exceptional websites and I hear more from them but generally just a few times a year. But now, I’m starting to hear it each month that their families are picking funeral homes because of their websites and that’s just shocking. But you know, thing usually evolve.
[00:09:02] So, I think those three reasons should be considered when you reflect on the stat that the majority of families don’t pick a funeral home because of its website. That’s true. But the website certainly influences whether or not they call and whether or not they call excited about what they found or you know, just one of many others were the same and I got to start somewhere.
[00:09:26] Here’s a couple other things to think about.
[00:09:29] If just 10 to 20 percent of families let a site maybe online read reviews influence which funeral home they select, that is still a huge deal to the owner of the funeral home because if you pick up an extra 10 or lose an extra 10 percent of calls each year, you know, that depends on that determines whether or not you had a great year and ok year or a bad year. Right? So, can you really afford to neglect the website if you’re a funeral home owner? I don’t think so.
[00:10:00] And the last thing I’ll say is the more price-oriented a family is or the more price-oriented a family thinks it is, then the more likely they are to go to the Internet to look for a funeral home or a death care provider.
[00:10:15] So, what do you mean the more price-oriented family thinks it is?
[00:10:22] Well, as you probably heard Batesville and other industry vendors say, many families start out thinking about price and they’re only starting there because they don’t know where else to start. And if you’ve heard Nectar Ramirez speak, she’s the director of customer training at Batesville. I think everybody knows who she is. She often talks it at state and national conventions about how often families arrive and depart a funeral home without ever having learned of their greater memorialization options. Maybe they come in and start talking about price. A lot of times they’ll leave without ever learning about things like cremation jewelry or different ways to personalize. And she shows how more effective communication in the arrangement room greatly changes what the family wants to buy and how satisfied they are with what they buy. But it’s really easy to prove that the website could have been the first step in effectively communicating with a number of those families. And it’s easy to see that the lion’s share of funeral home websites are very weak and or generic and or unappealing in terms of what it is they’re communicating. So, families who think they’re price shoppers and actually they’re value shoppers, they get left and the price shopper category because of what they hear in the arrangement room and also, what they hear on the website.
[00:11:38] Next, I guess what I should say is they’re left in the price shopper category because what they don’t hear in the arrangement room in relation to this podcast what they don’t hear or don’t read or don’t see on the website as we’ve seen it heard many times over the years, families are willing to pay for the things they find value in and since they’re shopping the website first, before you ever get the chance to talk to them or have them in your arrangement room or give them a tour of your funeral home where they can see what they could have what they could buy. The website could be doing that for you.
[00:12:14] OK, so that makes sense and it’s a good segway into discussing what specific types of things can be done on a funeral home website to generate appeal and get more leads and more shopper calls for the funeral home. Can you elaborate on that a bit, Brian?
[00:12:31] Yes, sure.
[00:12:33] So, let’s consider a funeral home website in the context of that scenario I just mentioned. The family doesn’t know what all is available.
[00:12:42] Well, how can you get more leads or shopper calls from these families by means the website and it comes down again to effectively doing show and tell. So, what should you show and tell about? And there’s you know, there’s two things obviously. There’s things they want to know about. And then there’s the things they don’t know that they want to know about. And I’ll talk about that a little bit more a second.
[00:13:06] But, first regarding things they want to know about. Well if they’re going to have some kind of a service, then obviously the chapel space is of prime concern.
[00:13:17] Well, how many funeral home website have you seen where the chapel or meeting room space looks bright? or is it more common that somebody shot that picture with a cellphone or an old digital camera fifteen years ago it looks all dark and gloomy. Here’s why that’s such a big deal. I think you already know. But here’s the validation. Back in 2013 or 2014, I guess 2014, the major study was commissioned by the ICCFA. I’m going to talk about who did that specifically in a few minutes.
[00:13:47] But, it was learned just how many women complain about dark gloomy chapels and funeral homes. So, the worst thing you could do and try and win business from families that you have not historically served, maybe a family that’s historically used your competitor and now they’re shopping around. Maybe they’ve never been in your chapel you’re looking at your website and if they see a low like then picture and that looks kind of gloomy. What makes it more appealing than the funeral home they used before? If that was your chance to win them to win a shopper call and get the chance to win their business, you may just lost it.
[00:14:23] The same with the priced other rooms like visitation rooms a lot of times they have a low ceiling, candlelights and there’s no natural light in the room and there aren’t enough lamps and I would just say whenever you’re shooting pictures of your chapel or any other room in your building make sure you have lots of light.
[00:14:40] In fact, be afraid of washing out the picture. That’s when you’re probably as much light as you need and that will directly connect with those female shoppers who want something bright and not something dark and gloomy. Some of the things that we know funeral home shoppers are looking for, believe it or not men, the staff page. The staff page you know, after your Homepage and your Obituary pages and quite often your Contact Us Page. The Staff Page will rank somewhere between the third and sixth most viewed pages on a funeral home website. It doesn’t matter what kind of market you’re in whether they’re in a big metro area or way out in the country or anything in between. And these women want to see who they’re going to be working with. Do they find smiling, kind, warm inviting faces you know, from people who are competent and safe or they getting a stiff upper lip, you know big you know, metal rimmed engineering glasses from the 1980s and straight faced with a dull background behind the funeral director. I hate to say it, but you know we’re getting, we literally are getting judged by how we look in that situation. There’s a great chance to still look very warm and inviting and safe versus stalwart and you know, down to business. So, I think you get the idea. Another thing we know shoppers are looking for and you may or may not love to share this and there’s different degrees of doing it.
[00:16:07] But obviously we know the shoppers are looking for pricing just like we are looking for pricing when we’re shopping online and there’s many cases where funeral homes don’t want to show their pricing, of course here we’re big advocates for being transparent and putting their packages. We’ll talk about that more some other time but even if you just put price ranges or packages with price ranges and details specific details and even better if you can have pictures that go with it.
[00:16:32] I’ve even heard of a few firms that are starting to do videos to go with their packages so that you can actually kind of see what do I get if I buy this higher end package and includes chapel and visitation as they have a room for reception and that type of thing.
[00:16:50] Another thing we learned from them, I guess I should be doing this study specifics in a minute but I’ll hold it off just a little bit longer but, regarding package names, and I’m speaking more specifically for a funeral home right now than for cremation business. There’s nothing wrong with calling the package a simple funeral home package for your base. Your base level. But stay away from terms like basic funeral home package or anything that might have a slightly negative connotation because women, well nobody wants to as man or woman or man. But women are a little more attuned to this studies found. They don’t want to feel like they’re being cheap for their loved ones especially a parent.
[00:17:29] So, anything that makes someone one of the basic. That’s all they can afford. Well, you might lose somebody whereas by simply calling it a simple funeral package instead of just set up a basic funeral package or anything less than that, that might win them because maybe mom always said she wanted a simple funeral. Granted, we’re talking more about the people who go up from here. They have nicer packages. There’s all science to that and we can talk about that. And I think Rob I think you’re actually going to have a podcast about that coming up but the point there is to stay away from anything that would sound like a negative name or make a woman feel like she’s being cheap or cutting back if she goes with the basic package.
[00:18:06] Ok, great. That makes sense. So, now what about the things that they don’t know that they want to know about. Like so when exactly what do you mean by that, Brian?
[00:18:18] Sure. And I know that’s sort of like what. What is it they don’t know they want to know, what they want to know. So, let me give you some context. I read a study a couple of years ago. Rather shocking.
[00:18:31] I’m not sure how large it was but I certainly had a grain of truth in it. I want to hold on to. It said that about half of American families were not satisfied with their funerals even though they gave very quality of service. You know, they attended this to the funeral director, attention to detail. They said that compassionate care funeral home facilities were very clean whether it was old or new, big or small.
[00:18:57] And so when they were asked why they weren’t satisfied, the common answer was “Well, we wanted something more, something a little different.” OK, well obviously you know we want to know what that is. When they were asked “Well, what is it that you wanted different?, What you wanted to look like or what did you want to see? What did you want experience?” and the response that came back was “Well, we don’t know but we’ll know when we see it.”
[00:19:22] And so, the conclusion was that these were the baby boomers that historically looked to change things up to make it their way. And I don’t think that’s new to anybody with anybody who’s been paying attention to what’s being said by the thought leaders or just what it been experience with families knows that to be true but boomers are looking for something different.
[00:19:42] What can you think of a more ideal situation for appealing to a consumer with something new and different than a website? I mean they’re basically pulling up your online employee and saying “What can you do for me? What do you have to offer me?” That’s just the context for shoppers that are looking for something more than an average or traditional religious based service funeral service. And we haven’t even talked about the things. All the things that female shoppers, you know, they’re 72 percent of the equation.
[00:20:10] We didn’t talk about all the specifics they’re looking for. We’re going to get into that. But this is an ideal situation to present things that are new, that are different, different flavor and generate interest for people like why I haven’t seen that before. The last two funeral home websites look the same, they had a chapel, they had a staff. It’s in general information. They show me pictures of caskets. You know I guess I have to call them if I want to learn anything else.
[00:20:37] But on this website, Wow! I’ve never seen that before so probably the biggest. Didn’t know I wanted to know. Thing is, when you show something they didn’t even know existed it could exist and I’m going to talk about it a little bit.
[00:20:50] So, several years ago, the first thing I saw coming out and making its way from the casket vendors onto websites were examples of personalized funerals. So, maybe we all seen this there’s this there’s the golf cart in front of the room and a bag of golf clubs and maybe even some fake grass and make a miniature green and they create a whole setting or a scene that represents you know an interest or a passion of the loved one and family still loved that. So having pictures on websites that started to show up in that, that started to open the eyes of the less imaginative we could say, like “Oh! that’s a neat idea! we could do that. I really like that.” And that would generate some calls. More recently pages and websites that talk about things like Signature services or special things we offer. Maybe you highlight the fact that you’ve got a kid’s room. You may not have thought of this. But, again statistically 72 percent of your shoppers are women.
[00:21:47] These women are busy. Most of them have professions as well as their home life. They’ve got to manage kids, manage a household. A lot of them are divorced. And so they don’t have many. Maybe it’s just them and the kids are very busy and under pressure and they’re trying to take care of a funeral or if they’re older, the kids are still teens. But you get the idea, saying that you have a kids room that can be a real appeal knowing that you’re going to make it easy for them. Maybe you talk about some of the more common things like a dove release or a balloon release or having a bagpiper. But I’ve also seen things like having a farewell ride in a motorcycle hearse or even newer.
[00:22:25] Maybe you have a “Gone to the ‘Force'” Star Wars sendoff experience. And that might seem kind of ridiculous, but hey — it doesn’t have to be cheap. I wouldn’t mind doing a Star Wars experience for eight thousand dollars. How about you?
[00:22:43] And obviously pictures are worth a thousand words in these cases. And video, if done right is worth even more. Now, you might be thinking “how do I do this? Would I have to stage this and bring in actors and decorate it all up myself. And two answers to that. My first answer is it would absolutely be worth it especially if you’re in a suburban or metro market. It would absolutely be worth it because of how many people are looking for something different. What you are trying to do is not to spell out all the different things you can do. We’re trying to show them some, and get them to realize that hey, whatever you want to do we can do it here.
[00:23:22] That being said, I’ve noticed over the years that many funeral homes have one or two really over-the-top funerals each year. These are prime opportunities for you to get some pictures. And I’m not suggesting that you get in there and take pictures of everybody in attendance where we have faces and that we have to worry about getting permission written sign offs, we get released to have to use those images from each person in the picture. But I have known funeral homes who will run their staff in there, when the funeral is not starting for a couple of hours. They’ll run their staff in there, and even call some friends [to increase their numbers] if they know it’s going to be a good one. And then shoot the picture from behind the head on one side of the chapel and capture the front of the room and they’re able to get an image that is very usable.
[00:24:10] Or maybe it’s in the arrangement room or the reception room with a particularly beautiful buffet set up. Maybe there’s extra large pictures or posters or any kind of paraphernalia over in the corner of the room. These are pictures that bring ideas alive in the minds of consumers who are looking for ideas. They engage with that. The same, I think probably this gets credited to foundation partners as we’re starting to see giant video screens and funeral home chapels and by giant, I mean the size of one whole wall usually at the front of the chapel or most of the wall depending how large the building is.
[00:24:51] I’ve also seen chapels that are putting multiple screens in there and they’re starting to create whole video experiences or video immersion experiences that are larger than life video experiences.
[00:25:04] I know there is a Senior Center in Florida that Foundation Partners works with, and they’ve basically got their own event space. It often gets used for funerals, and Foundation Partners already did put in a massive video screen in that space. And it sounds funny to talk about it, but all the seniors who live there — and I guess most of them are being good sports because many of them see these end of life videos and say “wow! That’s amazing!” And most seniors there have been to a few funerals now in that space and they’ve seen a great video on that enormous screen. And it’s the buzz of the senior community. So again, it sounds a little funny to talk about, but these are different ideas and ways that we can generate interest which creates appeal for shoppers who are looking for something different. And, the result is either shopper calls or at the very least downloaded brochures or maybe have some great ideas on PDFs,you know, ideas you can use for planning that great funeral or a meaningful sendoff or let’s not call it funeral. A celebration of life is certainly a big piece of this. I haven’t used that term and I should. Celebration of Life is a big piece. So, these are things we can do to generate interest and appeal on the website.
[00:26:20] So, what are some of the things consumers want to know, Brian? like what would you say are specific types of information website needs to have to stand out and you know generate more leads and get more shopper calls?
[00:26:35] Yes that’s certainly the question we’re here to answer.
[00:26:39] And to answer that question I’d like to refer back now specifically to the study that I’ve cited that was by a marketing expert. Her name is Bridget Brennan and you may have heard of her. She authored the book “Why she buys” and she’s a contributing writer to Forbes. Actually ICCFA also commissioned her to do a study — I think was in 2014. It was titled “Optimizing the Funeral Arrangement Experience to Attract the Largest Market Sector”. Now, that’s a long title, but that’s what it was. How you may have heard it presented. I know she presented it at the ICCFA. I heard her present it at the New Jersey Funeral Directors Convention. But, I want to talk about some of the critical findings she has. And you can see very clearly how this can directly connect to the types of content we need to have on a website to be more appealing and generate more leads and more calls.
[00:27:28] Now, she interviewed a large number of women in two markets. She picked a market in Illinois and a market in Florida and she didn’t just do you know, surveys in the mail. There were a survey and there’s also a lot of interviews scores and scores of interviews in each market. And let’s notice some of the things that were learned when she asked women “what are ways that you’d like to personalize?” And by the way, that term “personalized” is not a term that many consumers know when they first hear it. It’s not an intuitive term. I’m just using it here because as death care industry professionals, we all understand it.
But among the top seven things that were listed were to play specific music, and most of you offer that. Also, the ability to play videos. Again, not new.
Paint pictures of a loved one up. To serve cherished foods, or showcase a favorite food — that’s one we might not think about as much for our men in the industry.
Individualized ceremonial touches — and maybe that’s a more common phrase. Individualize ceremonial touches, as opposed to “personalized.” It sounds longer but that’s the words they use.
Also, they wanted to be able to make a presentation on an iPad that was set to music and have that be a part of the experience. And we might call that a video tribute, but also just a presentation where they’re showing a person’s life — almost like a show and tell. And that certainly is a trend in the direction of the new celebration of life direction that more and more funerals are going in.
Now except for perhaps that last one, none of these are new things are they? We’ve all heard of these things. But how many of you have pictures — nice, beautiful pictures or appealing descriptions — because obviously you can’t have a picture of music being played.
[00:29:17] That spells out and shows how you do these types of things. And you call out these things, the special things you can do in the service, that “our funeral home will help you do to make sure your service is the most meaningful and the most individualized for your loved one.” These are specific things that can be done. And again, you have to use a little bit of creativity. But as far as taking pictures of people eating special food whether it’s ethnic or whether they just love pizza. I don’t know. It could be whatever, so I’ll leave off with that.
There’s so much data that was in that study that’s just outstanding because of all the individual feedback. Another competitively critical area is the “celebration of life.” Why that’s so important? Bridget’s study found that many women found a celebration of life more appealing than a traditional ceremony. Again, that’s nothing we haven’t heard but I just want to put that back out there again.
[00:30:22] If your website isn’t specific about both traditional funerals and celebration of life services, you’re in trouble. And the reason I say that is you may have heard of a couple of famous authors you know, Al Ries and Jack Trout. They’re famous for some of the books they wrote the 90s. Some great thought leaders in America.
[00:30:43] One of them was called “Positioning”. Have you seen and heard in the over crowded marketplace. But another one that’s really special is the “22 Immutable Laws of Marketing”.
[00:30:57] And one of the things they talk about in that book is how quite often in a market, as it matures, you end up having two choices: the old tried and true, and then you have what’s new. And of course traditional funerals have been the tried and true for a century, or longer actually. You can say, since the beginning in America.
[00:31:17] But this whole celebration of life is the new up and coming trend kind of like how there was Coca-Cola for decades and then along came Pepsi the choice of the new generation.
[00:31:27] Well, the celebration of life is the new thing. It’s not new to hear anybody talk about it but if it’s not on your website you’re behind the times and people who are looking for a celebration of life and they find big pictures of groups of people doing everything from sitting in chairs or pews, watching a video to playing around of Putt-Putt Golf inside your chapel let’s say, which might sound crazy or maybe they leave your chapel and there’s this picture of them leaving in the next pictures of them running along behind the hearse and running gear. The last pictures them running through a cemetery on the way to the grave site. And that idea actually happened it was covered in Runner’s World. Those are the kinds of ideas that bring a lot of interest and engage the attention of consumers who are looking for something different. So, you know these are some specific things that we could put on the website in terms of pictures and descriptions that really get interest.
[00:32:23] The last thing I want to mention there. It’s very easy, almost all of you already have this. You already have a sound system in your chapel, right? Many of you already have cameras installed. Does your website say that you have a sound system. It can sound funny but a lot of people just to see a lot of you know models they have there. Tell them that you have a sound system. Have a page in here about a section or in what we offer where you talk about our sound system and video capabilities. People want to know that stuff that makes you stand out from just an average funeral home. It shouldn’t. Everybody should have these items on their website but they don’t.
[00:33:01] You know, Brian this is really interesting especially when you’re talking about celebration of life. And in Canada the most recent survey that was done although it was 2010, 2011. And now, remember that over 60 percent of Canadians want to be cremated. The survey said that 73 percent of Canadians want celebration of life for themselves. So, you know more than the people who want cremation are saying they want a celebration of life. And, so I’ve you know, made a challenge to funeral homes and the people who have done it say that it just works great. Just take you know, on your GPL where you have your traditional funeral service, go into your into word or whatever document program you have. Copy it, paste it with the same price same details and everything and just title it “Celebration of Life”. So, you know, maybe change the words around a little bit but you know have that on your price list because someone might gloss over a traditional funeral and then right there, right next, you know, right below it you might say “A Celebration of Life” and they may stop reading the rest of the document. And folks who have done this have said you know, that one move has made them you know, more money than you know, any other simple little fix that they could do especially just to the GPL. So, I just wanted to you know to share that since we’re on that fact that people use that term. I know a lot of industry people don’t like to use that term. But as you said we should use that. You know, talk their language. Which leads me to the next question. Are there anything that we should have or really not have on the website like is there anything that we should avoid in our website content?
[00:35:01] Yeah, that’s a really good question. One of the biggest ones turn up in that study that Bridget did was industry jargon. One of the quotes I enjoyed that she shared, she said quote. They used words like remains, which was a very new thing for me. It was very insensitive. They need to come up with some other terminology and that’s pretty close to what I think I typed it all down right. But this is something that one of the women said she talked to and then Bridget went on to explain to those of us in the audience that there were actually she heard that over and over and over. People especially women hate the word remains. That’s their mother or that’s their father or that’s their sister or their brother. Those aren’t remains and they get upset about a human being being referred to as remains. And I think we all understand that so I won’t belabor the point. But, if your website was written by “professional copyright writer in Cook who doesn’t know what they don’t know”. And so they come in and they interview you and then they start to write your content. And they’re using words like “remains”. Well you don’t realize it but you are really putting up a dreadful face of people are some women when you could be using terms like “loved one” like “we take your loved one into our care and we do this with your loved one” versus and you know, you get back to your mother’s ashes or your loved one’s ashes as opposed back you know, the remains to get back the remains, you understand what I’m saying.
[00:36:36] So, industry jargon, another one that I find this industry just does not want to let go of is the term pre-need and I’ll share with you an interesting insight. Having been in the Serbian Unit, doing websites for funeral homes for about 10 years over 10 years now, I’ve watched a lot of employees come through. The two companies I’ve worked at and in every case there’s always a few words that a new employee says “Hey what’s that. Never heard of that before.” And one of these words is “Pre-need” and we’re so used to hearing it and the pre-need insurance companies out there talk about it that we just want consumers to do it our way. We want consumers to accept that. But you know, you can fight that battle. You could also just use a term “plan ahead” on your website instead of “pre-need”. “Come on in and pre-need today” was I guess they mean they want us to plan our funeral. Why don’t you just say “plan ahead”. So look for it. Look for jargon for words that aren’t intuitive or if you ever have family say what’s that or look at the puzzled expression when they’re in the arrangement room, take a second race up a note about that word because words matter. And as most of you fellows know or listening that women are typically considered a lot more effective communicators, a lot more attuned to detail. And again, women are a target audience here. So jargon is something we need to avoid.
[00:38:04] Another thing that we need to avoid or actually kind of avoid / do the right way. Is that study Bridget said a lot of women expressed emotional concerns about the whole process of arranging a funeral. And so, you know, as a marketer I’m thinking “well hey, customer service is making a great first impression. One of the best ways I can win their interest and make them more interested in talking to me than the other guys is on my website I can reach out right away.” It’s verbiage that talks about what the arrangement experience is like at ABC Funeral Home. You know, that title I would give it the attention. Like yeah, what is the arrangement experience like some kind of worried about that. In a theater two, three, five, six funeral homes in town are talking anything about that. And your website has a page. It’s even a call to action box right in the home page. What is the arrangement experience like? What you need to know. And then you start to get into answers that nullify these three. The three talk in terms of about moving to right now which were will I take. Well I get it. Excuse me, will I get taken advantage of? Will I overspend? I noticed this last one which is normally wouldn’t think will I do this right. These are three big concerns.
[00:39:27] The three top concerns that came out of the study.
[00:39:30] You know, this and even in two sections of the country and different types of markets well-done study.
[00:39:36] So, if your website’s content is removing anything that causes concerns whether it’s gloomy pictures or bad verbiage like “remains” and in looking to insert verbiage and features and information that nullify fears and create a sense of safety and well-being that’s going to be good for you.
[00:40:00] And, I want to also point out here three other things.
[00:40:03] There are several ways to make the female shopper feel less vulnerable and I’m not trying to get all psychological honest, but then again, sales market has always been about shopper psychology and how to connect with the shopper because if you’re what they think they’re looking, for they’ll buy you. You’re the expert. They think they want. They’ll buy you. So here’s three things. Tell them that you’re interested in having their funeral or their celebration life experience be the way they want it with the trappings they want at the price they can pay. That you have a solution for them it’s going to fit and look for ways to get specific. And I can delve into that quite a bit. It’s a little bit easier to do in a conversation than out in the street. I think a podcast presentation and I do see a lot of funeral home say “You can get what you want, the price you want. We have packages for every budget.” But, look for ways to press interest in them being satisfied and having the experience they want. A second way to help reduce feeling of vulnerability is tell them you’ll give them space and privacy to make their decisions.
[00:41:12] One of the quotes I read from a lady that was surveyed in that study said well actually these two contrasting quotes one of them who is said you know, I wish they would has gone away and give us some time to think about it. I know many of you do that. I heard many funeral home owners say, you know, after we talk then I’ll just get up and leave the room. And I find that works wonders. I just leave the room and go on and give them some time when I come back I can tell if they need more time or not and I’ll give them the time they need. And it works wonders for us, builds a great reputation, families are happy that they buy and that’s a win win for everybody. But there’s many funeral directors who aren’t doing that. And as again as Alan Creeley pointed out if you and I totally agree with this even though I’m not an expert on it by any means. If a funeral home owner doesn’t know what their funeral directors are doing in the arrangement room, if they haven’t watched how that funeral directors are conducting arrangements, then you don’t really know how your brand is being represented if it’s not being represented by you, do you?
[00:42:08] So, make sure that what you’re saying on your website is actually getting backed up in the arrangement room. And then, in a third way to appeal to a female shopper and and remove any feelings of vulenrability is to package her options into appealing plants. And again I won’t try to get into this in detail. Rob’s going to talk about this more but what a woman finds “appealing” versus what a man finds “appealing” as you might imagine can be a lot different. And with 72 percent of our audience being female that’s something we fellows really need to think about and focus on in order to maximize happy customers and all our bottom line.
[00:42:51] A couple of things I’ll share here is that in that study women said the decisions they made when choosing what they wanted for final arrangements reflected on them personally reflected on their tastes, reflected on their love and respect for the deceased which by the way they don’t like that term very much either deceased loved who died. And also reflecting on their budget and they didn’t want to look cheap. So, one thing I will just quickly touch back on related to packages I mentioned it earlier was that they don’t want to look cheap. They want to look like they’re making upgrades. They don’t want to look like they’re cutting back on features. So, they want to feel like they’re making an upgrade when they add to the package. But like the starting package isn’t a bad thing. So really consider that when naming your packages and again we’ll talk about that more in the future. Feel free to call and talk about that with us. And now to there are two of the things here are things we can do to help female shoppers feel less vulnerable. Emphasize that your staff is there for them whenever she needs them and that’s a big deal granted most funeral homes have been doing that for decades or longer. There’s all kinds of legendary stories of how the phone rings in the middle of the night. Remember that John McQueen said his dad used to always had somebody spending the night down there and their funeral home. So no matter what time a call came or somewhere there was always somebody there for them. Times have changed a little bit that’s still the spirit of the traditional funeral home. Make sure it’s spelled out on your website and you might consider spelling it out in modern terms, we’re available for you however you need including phone calls, emails, text messaging. We shudder to hear it. There’s families who are reaching out for a first contact through Facebook and not just low cost shoppers being talked about that later but Facebook is a growing medium for regular communication. So that’s just going to be in the wheel house. The skill set of any effective business going forward you need to be planning for it. And finally you know we need to assure them that getting hold of the staff will be easy whenever they’re needed.
[00:45:05] It kind of fits in with what I just said but it’s going to be easy to get hold of us through any of these means we’re here for you. We want to make this as easy as convenient can. Again because a lot of these female shoppers are you know they’re managing families and they have careers that the kids have after school things. Now they have all this pressure of a loved one has died. If they’re single and they don’t have the aid of a partner or a spouse to help them that just adds more pressure and they’re looking for things to reduce pressure to make it fast and easy and still also to be meaningful and fulfilling and where they feel like they’ve honored in church their loved one with the choices that they’ve made and they want reassurance that they’ve done that. And there’s just a lot that goes into communicating that. Now, having heard all that, which is quite a bit and still I feel like it’s general I didn’t get into maybe as many specifics but we really get the nitty gritty but having heard all that, hopefully we began to see just how lacking the content has been on death care websites.
[00:46:07] And you know, if you ever want example of some good content, maybe look through some of the leading senior retirement centers or another favorite example I have is wedding resorts and hotels and your favorite vacation spots where the competition is intense. There’s lots of contenders that have a skilled marketing and advertising departments like pick your favorite beach where there’s a Marriot, a Hyatt, the Sheraton. See just how specific and visual they get in explaining what all they have to offer. Those are good examples but overall, hopefully this will help us increase the level of specific, attractive, engaging and appealing information we put on our websites that will generate more interest and more shopper calls and more contacts and more leads from families whether it’s that situation or their plight.
[00:47:00] Hey, Brian this has been great. It’s just a great piece of education for folks to really look at their funeral home website and kind of assess it. And that’s why you know, we’ve made available for you here on the website the self-assessment that you can download. Just review that and then you know, make sure going forward that you know you’re thinking about that when you’re updating your website, when you’re getting a photographer in to take new photographs. The terminology that you’re using or maybe you shouldn’t use all those things should weigh on your mind and make those changes as soon as you can. So, once again, Brian that was that was just great Also too, one thing that I wanted to let you know is that at Funeral Results Marketing, we are in the beginning stages of planning our first live conference that we’re going to have. The details will we found at cremationconference.com and this will be in the fall probably September or October. So look for those details and both Brian and I are excited about that. And if you have any burning questions at all about online marketing for your funeral home, about your website, your online cremation business, make sure you leave it here below this episode and we’ll try to answer it on an upcoming episode. And then if you like what you’re hearing, please leave a comment on the blog or give us a rating on iTunes or Google Play. We’d really appreciate that. And, but most importantly thank you for taking your time today. Spending it with us.
[00:48:49] Our goal for you is to serve more families and provide more meaningful services. Make sure you check back soon for another episode of Strategy Talks by Funeral Results Marketing. Until the next episode. This has been Brian Young and Robin Heppell.
[00:49:04] This has been another episode of Strategy Talks with Robin Heppell and Brian Young. To ask a question or leave a comment visit FuneralResultsMarketing.com/Talks To make sure that you never miss an episode, you can subscribe to this podcast for free on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.