How To Develop A Digital Strategy For Funeral Directors

By Peter Billingham

Part 1 of a 7 Part Series - 7 Steps To Pass On A Successful Digital Funeral Business Tomorrow

Are You An Analogue Or Digital Funeral Business?

When you hear the word "marketing" what words come to mind? What if you are thinking about your funeral business?

If you think:

  • local newspaper advertising
  • Posters in hospitals 
  • Local business directories
  • Branded pens!!  

You are in analogue mode as a funeral business.

If you think:

  • Social Media 
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Google AdWords 
  • Youtube,
  • Podcasts
  • Online customer engagement

You are starting to have a digital mindset.

Analogue V Digital Funeral Business

Analogue and digital signals are used to transmit information, usually through electric signals. However, in this instance, I am using the idea of communicating information to potential customers of your funeral business either in a traditional, pre-internet world (analogue) or post internet world (digital). To stay analogue is like signing a commitment to your customer to go out of business within 5 years. To start allocating resources to move towards a digital framework is like raising a flag over your business that has the crest embroidered - We are Here To Stay" - for future generations to see. Step one to move from analogue to digital is the need to allocate resources.

What RESOURCES Do I Need To Allocate?

Every funeral business has finite reserves. It takes these three critical resources to complete any task in the firm.

  • People
  • Money
  • Time

There is no quick fix to moving towards a digital framework for your funeral business. It will be a 9 - 18-month journey before you start to see significant traction towards sales. It is not just an add-on.

"We've set up a Facebook page is not that enough?"

No! Moving to a digital business needs a change of mindset. It requires the funeral business to view all business activities through a digital viewpoint. It needs someone to ask the question, "Did we do it this way before the internet started?" If the answer to that is yes, or we have not changed it for years, then it is more than likely you are in an "analogue" mindset.

Let's look at three critical resources you need to allocate to move your funeral business forward.

Allocating People Resources

The most valuable resource any business has is its people. The owner of a funeral business relies on people to do most tasks in the firm. Your job as the leader is to turn up each day and cast vision to the staff team about what the mission and vision of the business is about. Casting vision every day is critical. "Without vision people perish!" Said the ancient Hebrew proverb. How do you cast vision to the next generation of employees to your funeral business? 

Investing in people is good business sense. Training, coaching and mentoring will build a stronger staff team and more substantial business.  You will have staff now that work for you that seem always to have a smart phone glued to their fingers. While they are working for you, they update profiles on social media accounts, watch Youtube videos (cats are a popular one) and instant message. Why not harness this resource for your business? If it is no one's job it will not get done, we all know that. Why not allocate training, support and investment to make one of your staff team your digital ambassador? Have one person whose job it is to be responsible for the digital transformation of your funeral business. By investing in staff in an area of interest it will make a significant impact on their morale and also your business.

You can recruit new staff specifically for a digital role. Unless you have surplus finance, and who does, for most firms this is not a need when starting. You could also outsource the role and this has many positive and negative impacts. 

Investing in your existing human resources is a significant step in moving towards a digital framework.

Allocating Financial Resources

What is your marketing budget? How much money did you spend last year to get new business? What is the ROI (return on investment) on that spend? Do you know? One costly but ineffective method these days is newspaper advertising. How much business did that advert send you last year? I would hesitate a guess that it is where you spend the most money in marketing for the firm. It is very complicated to measure its success. Do you ask each customer how they came to use you? If you do not, start doing that now with each and every new client.

Start with allocating a % of your marketing budget on digital activity. This should be around 25% moving each year upwards. The important point here is to be intentional in your marketing spend. Not doing what you have always done but investing financial resources in digital frameworks.  Don't leave it to chance, but a plan. As they say to fail to plan is plan to fail. You could also outsource these requirements. This has many positive and negative points which I will cover in later posts. 

Time Resources

The ultimate resource is allocating time. If you type into Google - "digital marketing in 10 minutes a day" you will find 1000's of articles. However, if you type "I want to be an overnight success" you will find as many items but deep down you know it is not true. Anything of lasting value takes the time to develop. Your funeral business could be 2 or more family generations old. It takes time, concerted effort, persistence and determination. However, isn't anything in life that's worth having the same? If you do not plan time to review your strategy for moving from an analogue to a digital funeral business you will find yourself still saying 12 months from now, I need to do something about this digital stuff. You will be wondering why the digital savvy funeral business down the road is now getting all the business. 

Conclusion

Take stock of the resources that you are using now to market your funeral business. How much did we spend last year on marketing - how much business did it bring us? Consider how much business you get digitally? How many of your customer-focused services are now digital? Ask existing staff if they have an interest in digital marketing. Ask them what are they doing online to connect with people, what are they watching and why? Look at how many ways you do business with other firms digitally. Ask yourself, where are we now doing business in an "analogue" way and how could we do this digitally?

Moving from an analogue to a digital funeral business needs you to allocate resources. It is not just an add-on to business as normal. I would love to hear from you and help guide you forwards from this place. How can I help you the most in making decisions about allocating people, financial or time resources? I would love to hear from you. Contact Me