Every business relies on the process of marketing, lead generation and sales. Sure, there are different nuances on this theme, depending on the product or service and the price-point of that product… but the core principles hold true, regardless of the industry.
I participated in the FCCFA Sales & Marketing Conference held last week in Punta Gorda, FL. The speakers provided insight into Industry specifics…but basically the mantra is the same. Members of the Death Care Industry are selling a product and service and the end result of marketing and advertising efforts are to generate leads so the salesman can meet the prospect "belly-to-belly-across the table" to close the sale.(A special thank you to Steve Miller, Managing Director of SCI South Florida for that great saying)
I found that many of the owners / management of Cemeteries & Funeral Homes are pretty much mystified by today's marketing landscape. Many of these are family owned & operated establishments who have operated a certain way for many years and are losing market share to those operations who are using more sophisticated marketing techniques to drive lead generation.
While owners are wanting to upgrade their marketing outreach, I think there is a real disconnect between knowing what they want to do and understanding how to do it.
Owners / sales managers need to understand that marketing dollars needs to be budgeted across a 12 month period. The rule of thumb is 5-10% of sales, depending on the organization's goal. The dollars need to be allocated between branding & visibility, direct marketing outreach & lead generation.
A well established, high name recognition Cemetery may need to spend less on branding / more on direct outreach; a newer establishment may need to spend a higher percentage of their marketing budget on branding & awareness.
The Simple Visibility Test
How does a Cemetery know if they have visibility in their marketplace? A simple Google search will tell the story in one minute. Since most Cemeteries/Funeral Chapels are local; typing in their own name and seeing who pops up is the easiest way to see if consumers can find them on-line.
If you don't see your own cemetery/funeral home listed, chances are that no one else can see you either. If you do not see yourself listed, get nervous, get serious and find a resource who will help you get visible asap.
If your Cemetery/Funeral Home is way down on Google's list, you also need to be concerned because consumers tend to click on the listings closer to the top. Again, find a resource to help you asap.
If you are near the top of the list, great…because now you can concentrate on lead generation, since so much of the process focuses on driving consumers to your website and phone #.
Direct mail is still the #1 driver of lead generation in the Death Care Industry, whether it is used to invite prospects to a lunch seminar, or offer a home-delivered premium that culminates in an in-home presentation.
At the FCCFA Seminar, Traci Tucker explained that Cemetery owners cannot fool themselves by thinking that they can do one direct mailer and people will be walking in the door. Direct mail is not an event, but a well-planned series of touches that affirms brand, serves as a reminder, and becomes part of the conversation regarding pre-need. It is an essential part of pre-need marketing tool box.
Direct mail does not sell pre-need. It sets up the opportunity for your salespeople to sell the pre-need.
The same holds true with Telemarketing. Because of the Do Not Call laws, telemarketing, which was once a staple for lead generation in the Industry, has becoming more challenging. Only 10% of consumers are available to call. Again, to quote Mr. Miller – it used to be great to call 10 homes, speak to 2 people, and make one appointment for a home visit which gave a salesperson the opportunity to close the sale.
A couple of caveats on telemarketing - if you are in a rural market with spotty cell phone coverage or an area with a high Hispanic population, telemarketing is still a great outreach tool.
Remember, people buy from people. The goal of your lead generation program is to set the stage for that personal appointment.