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Brian Young and Robin Heppell discuss Funeral Results Marketing’s upcoming live event, CremationConference.com that will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida from September 17th to 19th at the Don Cesar Hotel. They discuss all of the training sessions as well as the special events planned for the delegates including a tour at the Anderson-McQueen Cremation Tribute Center by John McQueen. For registration details, visit: http://CremationConference.com.
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Topics discussed / In this video:
00:26 Upcoming CremationConference.com at St. Petersburg, Florida This September.
01:12 Robin Heppell’s and BrianYoung’s experiences when it comes to cremation services
01:52 Introduction to John McQueen as one of the presenters
03:05 CremationConference.com location
06:03 10 different sessions of the conference
09:52 Digital signatures and security of those from internal communications and both from the marketing perspective and the operations perspective.
15:33 Kinds of website content that actually impresses cremation shoppers.
16:20 Google Analytics and understand how shoppers are interacting with our content and what we’re putting out there, being impressed.
17:02 Maximizing website performance and ROI.
18:42 Robin shared Dean Jackson’s analogy about vending machine
19:09 How David Nixon, who’s a financial consultant in the funeral industry came up with a metric when it comes to funeral homes spend on advertising
20:06 Google AdWords advantages
22:58 Funeral boardroom day, It’s like a mastermind or a virtual study group
24:23 Funeral boardroom Registration page
Links and Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
St. Petersburg, FL
Robin Heppell: [00:00] On today’s show, we’re actually going to be talking about our upcoming conference in St. Petersburg in September called CremationConference.com.
Welcome to Strategy Talks by Funeral Results Marketing, where funerals professionals discover the latest marketing strategies that get results. Now join Robin Heppell and Brian Young as they share their insights and experiences to help you and your firm during these ever changing times in the funeral profession.
Brian Young: [00:26] Welcome to another episode of Strategy Talks by Funeral Results Marketing. Today, we’re going to a little bit different format. We’re looking forward to talking about the upcoming CremationConference.com at St. Petersburg, Florida.
[00:39] That’s going to be a lot of fun for a lot of people, but also we think highly educational. We’re going to be looking at what we think is probably the most useful program ever offered for profitably operating a brick and mortar, as well as a Web based cremation business.
[00:57] We’re going to be talking about what themes will be discussed, what lectures are going to be given here in today’s podcast.
[01:05] Rob, I know you’re going to talk just a little bit here about who the presenters are and then we’ll get into some of the details.
Robin: [01:12] Yeah, you bet, Brian. We’re really excited about being able to take from both of our experiences. Brian’s been serving website clients, especially with cremation focus for a decade and has a lot of great insights.
[01:34] For myself, I’ve come from a very high cremation rate, highly competitive market. Currently, the cremation rate is 92 percent. The sky isn’t falling. There’s lots of opportunity if you do the right thing, so both Brian and I have a lot to share.
[01:52] We’re also really excited to have John McQueen join us as well. On our brochure, we’ve said that John’s a progressive funeral home owner and I think that’s a little bit of an understatement.
[02:05] John lives and operates in the St. Pete and Tampa market, and has just done a great job with taking their company from when cremation was low in the 21 percent in 1987 and rose up to 70 percent by 2010. They went from 450 calls up to over 2,200 calls in that time frame on an annual basis.
[02:37] John’s got some great insights to help the attendees get on the right track, get the right mindset of being really proactive with cremation. It’s the three of us that are going to be presenting. We’ll give you a turn back over Brian, and he can give you some more of the details of the great location that Brian was able to arrange for us.
Brian: [03:05] Yeah, that’s right. It is a rather iconic location. It’s a Gaspar hotel and it is known as the Don CeSar Hotel. Anybody from anywhere near St. Pete’s familiar with that hotel, but it sits right on St. Pete pitch. A big pink hotel, but it looks very natural there in the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Coast.
[03:27] The dates for that we’re actually going to be starting Sunday evening, the 17th of September. We certainly hope you can join us for that because, after an opening and happy hour, we will have our first session. We’re looking forward to sharing that information with you and getting started that evening.
[03:43] On Monday and Tuesday, the 18th and 19th is where we’re really digging into all of this material that’s been prepared for you. After breakfast both days, we’ll dig into about three and a half, four hours with the material, break for lunch. On day one after lunch, and another lecture or two, we’re headed out to tour John McQueen’s Cremation Tribute Center from Anderson McQueen.
[04:11] If you haven’t been to that before, that is worth seeing. Not only does he have a bio cremation unit there. Also known as a water cremation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis. Just depends who you’re talking to but the official name off course is alkaline hydrolysis.
[04:28] But that whole tribute center is built around building value really and it drives a lot of revenue for them. There’s a lot of insights. I’ve been on that tour before. Funeral directors, funeral monitors, and the cremation business owners just walk around with their eyes open wide saying, “There’s a lot of good ideas here.”
[04:45] That’s the 18th and 19th, Monday and Tuesday there in St. Petersburg. Of course, we have Rob’s famous happy hours at some really neat locations. We’re looking at a rooftop location. That will be on Monday night, so you can enjoy the Gulf as the sun is heading down towards the water.
[05:04] On Tuesday night, we’ll be at another beachside bar, literally right next to the sand there at the Don CeSar. Lots of fun mixed in with the gorgeous location that we have. Rob, we’ve got a special sponsor that you want to talk about.
Robin: [05:20] Yeah. You bet, Brian. We’re really happy to have ASD who are the leaders in funeral home answering services. Kevin and his team have sponsored us. They’re the main sponsor of the event. They’re going to be present as well and share some of their insights on how they handle cremation calls in the evenings or when they’re covering call for the funeral homes.
[05:51] We’re really excited to have ASD on board with us and they’ll talk a little bit about their services and how they can help funeral homes and cremation providers.
[06:03] With that Brian, how about if you want to just maybe cover some of the conference sessions that we’re going to have. There’s 10 different sessions that we’re going to have over the course of the couple of days. Do you want to just start it off and just feel what is briefly highlight the different sessions, so people who are thinking of attending can find out exactly what the topics are?
Brian: [06:32] Sure, it sounds good. One of the topics we’ll be talking about is exploring cremation business models that are in use today. We’re literally going to look at the cremation business models in use today that we’ve found around the country.
[06:46] I know between you and I, we reached out with hundreds of firms and we’ve seen a lot of different ideas. We’ll talk about what’s working, what’s working well, what hasn’t worked so well, as well some interesting modifications.
[07:00] You hit there with John. John McQueen’s going to be talking about how his firm traversed the cremation revolution. It’s a great session there on day one.
Robin: [07:16] Taking it from there, we’ll be talking about launching, how to successfully launch a cremation brand. The different things that we’ve done in the past when we’re part of that process with a new company, especially launching their website and making sure we get all the things properly dialed in, both on the website and off the website as well.
[07:42] Marketing assets that you need to make sure that you’re going to be coming up in front of people searching for cremation services, cremation costs, and also take a strategic look at how they can combat some of the virtual cremation operators that are out there that have been cherry picking the markets.
[08:05] We’ve seen time and time again when someone has a local presence that they can jump ahead, and really start to take control of that market when they launch their brand.
Brian: [08:20] That’s going to be pretty intense. One thing I’ll throw in there I know it’s also in that lecture for you is talking about how to not cannibalize a funeral home cremation brand. There’s definitely little new ones to that, and I know you’ve helped a lot of people through that. How to have a cremation brand serving the low end, without cannibalizing your high end brand.
[08:41] That leads right next into the next session which is actually more of interactive session. Actually to a large extent be interactive conversation where we’re discussing better positioning of high and low end brands.
[08:54] Typically, we find at these conferences that there is a lot of experience in the room. We like to tap that experience, let you share back and forth. This is certainly meant to be a networking opportunity.
[09:07] Between your experience, those in the room with John McQueen having been through it and what I’ve seen, we think we can put a lot of value there and a lot of useful meaningful data for people to take advantage of.
Robin: [09:22] Yeah, you bet. The next session, new technology tools for streamlining operations. This will be geeking out a little bit. We’ll go under the hood, look at some things from online. What are the online tools? What are some of the things that you can use at your operation to streamline things and just be as efficient as possible?
[09:52] We’ll talk about how online digital signatures and security of those from internal communications, and both from the marketing perspective and the operations perspective. For the geeks out there, they’ll like that. [laughs] If you’re a little bit of a technology phobe, that’s OK. You can take some notes and we can even pass it on to whoever your resident techie is back at the office.
Brian: [10:27] You’re going to love it. Because I know at some of our smaller conferences we’ve done, just for clients only, some of the guys were sharing, for all those of you who are listening, were sharing how much benefit they’ve gotten from some of those streamlining tools. I think you get more value to this than you think.
[10:43] That’s not the kind of information you can typically find at a state or national convention either.
Robin: [10:49] For sure. That wraps up the first day. When we move into the Tuesday, or day two, we’ll be looking at mastering the largest online advertising space on Earth, which is obviously the Internet. The bulk of that is going to be Google.
[11:17] Both how you can position yourself in the organic rankings, we’ll look at the local listings, which is the map currently, at this time of the recording, but they might change by September. The Google My Business listing, for some reason Google’s renamed that thing almost five times now, I think.
[11:39] But then we’re also going to talk about Google AdWords and how that can be probably the greatest one two punch for an online cremation business, is Google AdWords to driving traffic to a cremation arrangement website.
[11:57] We’ll talk about what ads work well and how to both maximize your ad spend and also how to minimize the either fraudulent clicks or unnecessary clicks that would erode your budget.
[12:18] From there, Brian’s going to talk to us about hospice. Brian, can you fill us in on that?
Brian: [12:31] It’s the opposite side of the coin, isn’t it, from the Google AdWords, where it’s all about clicks and digital. This is all about how you connect with some people that really have the power to impact your business. Many funeral home owners know hospice is important, but it’s not till they hear the numbers that it clicks for them.
[12:50] When they hear that an average hospice worker carries 10 cases at any given time, and that 36 percent of their patients die less than seven days, usually six days or less, then they start doing the math. They’re saying, “Wait a second. That means they’ve got, on average, three people dying every 10, 12 days.” Do the math on that, and I think I’m doing that right. If I missed it, Rob, correct me. But it’s a high number.
[13:20] You times that out by that course of that year and you realize, “Wow, hospice has a lot of capacity here to send me referrals. How do I get them? How do I win with hospice?” We’re going to be looking at some proven ways to find favor with hospice and getting in even more detail than we’ve done so far here with our podcasts and our writings.
[13:39] Rob, I know you’re going to talk about something that people are always asking me about, search engine optimization. There’s a lot changing there, so what are you going to help us with there?
Robin: [13:47] With SEO, or search engine optimization, what that really means is how do you rank high on Google and Bing and Yahoo. It is changing, and it’s actually coming into the hands of the people who do it right, who do it from a trusted perspective, having authenticity and being a authority in their market.
[14:22] It’s actually doing away from the virtual marketers that are just trying to become what I like to call call poachers. But in these markets, some of those virtual companies are still making a huge dent and scraping some of the profits from the funeral homes that will end up doing the service anyway, or the cremation service anyway. We’ll look at that, we’ll actually look at some numbers.
[14:52] I’ll use some of my analytical tools. What we’re also, in one of the sessions too, later on, really look at for every attendee, we’re going to run some reports. You’ll actually have a snapshot of your market and your operation, or the opportunity in your market. It sounds complicated, but really there’s just some basic things to think of.
[15:23] We’ll give you the checklist to make sure that you do the right things to be in Google’s favor.
Brian: [15:33] That is one valuable place to be, and ever more so with each passing year. From there, we’re going to jump in a different direction. We’re going to talk about the kinds of website content that actually impresses cremation shoppers.
[15:44] Because if you do all the work and you’re succeeding in the advertising spaces, you’re succeeding in Google with your search engine optimization, and you’re getting people to your website, that’s only half the battle. Now we’ve got to impress them. Now we’ve got to get them to want to call you.
[16:01] Whether you’re a low cost cremation business or a funeral home that’s competing, trying to demonstrate value with people who might not even give you the chance to talk to them on the phone. What kind of website content will impress a cremation shopper? We’re going to dig into that in a number of different directions in this presentation.
[16:20] We get into a shared presentation. Same thing where there’s two sides of the coin, where we’re going to talk about maximizing website performance and ROI. For my half, Rob, I know I’m going to be talking about how can we look at things like Google Analytics and understand how shoppers are interacting with our content and what we’re putting out there, being impressed.
[16:41] Where is there opportunities to improve that content? Where do the numbers show that there’s a hunger or an interest by shoppers, and/or something shoppers don’t like or are not interested in? How can we use the analytics to maximize the website’s performance? But then from there, again, there’s another step right on from that. That’s ROI.
Robin: [17:02] We’ll be then looking at your return on your investment for your overall online operation and your marketing that you use to promote it. One of the great things about conducting business online is that the information is precise. We can really dig in and look at that information that Brian’s looking at.
[17:34] But also then extrapolate that into what kind of conversions are you getting, are you getting your goals. Are people filling out a quote form? Are they filling out a contact us form? Or are they going through and completing the complete arrangements?
[17:56] It’s a lot harder to track ROI for a funeral home, but for an online commission business it’s a lot easier, because a lot of it is transacted online, whether it’s just filling out a form or taking the whole step and going right through to paying and completing the forms online.
[18:18] One thing that we’re going into a little bit of more detail, but one thing to leave you with, as we’re going to wrap up this session, I like to…when I’m talking to my clients…When you’re advertising online, and when you look at your entire operation, your cremation business online, I like to use this analogy.
[18:42] It’s from a marketer, actually, from Florida he lives part time in Toronto and part time in Florida Dean Jackson. He talks about this vending machine, and if you do your marketing correct, especially online, you can drill it down and figure out how much money do you spend per call.
[19:09] David Nixon, who’s a financial consultant in the funeral industry, says that on average, funeral homes spend $300 per call on advertising. I’m pretty sure what Dave has done is looked at what funeral homes spend on advertising as an average divided by the number of calls, and he’s come up with this metric.
[19:32] If we’re to take that a little bit further, let’s just say if $300 is the average, maybe some will be willing to spend $100 on just a direct cremation and maybe $500 on a funeral. If we keep then that $100 in mind, and there is a vending machine over there with a bunch of cremation first calls in it, would you go and empty that machine until your capacity, until your team said, “Hey, no more calls. We’re exhausted.”?
[20:06] That’s where we want to get your marketing to, to a point where your number doesn’t have to be 100. Maybe it’s 75 or 50 or whatever it is, but anything up to that number if you could on a regular basis. This is what we find especially with Google AdWords, because there’s only a finite number of searches for cremation phrases in a particular market.
[20:30] There’s going to be a natural ceiling so you can really only spend so much, and if you’re spending money, it means that at least they’re getting to your website, and then that’s what we do from the things that Brian was just talking about making sure that the content is in a manner to engage them and appeal to them so that they then become a client family of yours.
[20:52] We’ll go through that, too, and just allow you to see this from almost a pure ecommerce perspective. It’s just great when you see the light bulb go off with our clients, when they see how this works, because they’re always afraid of spending too much money on advertising.
[21:11] If you can get it so that it consistently is less than you’d spend to empty that vending machine, then they’re all for it, but again, your advertising has to be dialed in and very efficient and effective. We’re going to be talking about that in great detail. Brian, maybe just share with the folks about us wrapping up the event?
Brian: [21:46] Yes. At the end of day two, we’ve got a couple of extra highlights there. One of the things we like to help our firms do…after all this is called CremationConference.com.
[21:58] For you and your business, we want to help you review your Web presence and give you some competitive analytics audits, who is in your market and how effective are they so how can you get ahead of them, what would it take for you to get ahead of them, and also what’s the cremation potential in your market.
[22:17] We can help you find that out and make sure you have those numbers so when you go home, not only will you have all of this knowledge and these action steps and these tools and tricks up your sleeve to make use of, you’ll actually have, in some cases that you didn’t know before, a much more accurate understanding just how many cremations are happening in your market.
[22:39] What’s your Web presences and how effectively you’re competing. We want to let you go home well equipped to do more calls and win more money. That’s why we do business, isn’t it? Hopefully [inaudible] . Then, there’s an extra special highlight on Wednesday that I think you want to talk about, Rob?
Robin: [22:58] Yeah. Wednesday I’ve done this with all my conferences that I do it’s the funeral boardroom day, and so I’ve got a program. It’s like a mastermind or a virtual study group, but we’re funeral professionals, and John McQueen is a member of the boardroom. We meet once a week over a Web conference, and go over specific things. It’s a very proactive consultation.
[23:33] If you ask John or other members of the boardroom, we just get things done. But when we get together live, since we’re doing this virtually for throughout the year, I do like to get folks live, and we can just sit down, roll up our sleeves, and look at everyone’s business, how we can improve it.
[23:55] It’s limited to a total of 10 people, and at the moment there’s only five spots left. If you’re interested in that, it’s worth the investment, where we get to have some direct looking at your business, and get the insights from other proactive funeral directors or funeral professionals like yourself of how you can improve.
[24:23] You’ll see that on the registration page if you want to join us for the Wednesday funeral boardroom. Brian, how do the folks register for this awesome event?
Brian: [24:36] Yes, it is going to be awesome, and we’ve made it really easy for you. If you go to CremationConference.com, not only will you find information there about the conference and the sessions, even about traveling to and from the venue, we try to give you a lot of details there to make it easy to plan.
[24:52] You’ll see the big red button on the top right corner that says Register, and we’ve put it in a few other places. Just click on that button. It will take you to the registration page.
[25:01] Right now, we’re still on the early bird pricing, so you can save yourself some money, if you don’t procrastinate, and sign up for the conference, and we’ll get the ball rolling from there. You can look forward to a business boosting experience in Florida this coming September.
[25:18] Everybody I’ve ever talked to who’s been to one of your events, Rob, still is talking about it. There’s so much value packed in it, so much specific information and such a narrow focus it makes it actually easier for people to absorb it, because they’re not being bounced around and around different topics.
[25:35] They’re able to focus really on all these aspects of the greater marketing question that’s challenging the funeral industry right now around the topic of cremation.
Robin: [25:44] Yeah. I always try to have a really consistent…and that’s why there’s only at most a few presenters. It’s not a dozen different people with a dozen different points of view. Those are great for just getting some general knowledge and, hopefully, picking one or two items up.
[26:09] We put this together. Brian’s really mastermind the program from start to finish. We want to take people through a complete process, so one session’s going to build on another one. We’re going to look at all aspects of how to promote your cremation business and particularly your online cremation business.
[26:33] It’s going to be great, and it’s going to be a lot of fun That’s why we like to have Hep’s happy hour. I guess that’s all that needs to be said. If you want to find out more, join us in September.
Brian: [26:55] What’s your burning question about online marketing for your funeral home or your cremation business, or whatever? As always we ask you, please leave that here, and we will try to answer it on an upcoming episode. If you like what you’re hearing, please leave your comment on the blog, or give it a rating on iTunes or Google Play.
Robin: [27:12] Thanks for spending your time with us today. I know this has been a special session about the CremationConference.com, and with that information, it just goes along with our overall goal to help you serve more families and provide more meaningful services to them.
[27:29] Make sure that 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. We hope to see you in September.
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 could subscribe to this podcast for free on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.
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