PART 4 OF A 7 PART SERIES - 7 STEPS TO PASS ON A SUCCESSFUL DIGITAL FUNERAL BUSINESS TOMORROW
These wise words of former Microsoft COO should reverberate around the walls of any businesses today. Digital disruption is Driven primarily by the consumer. Digital disruption is changing the culture, style of operating processes of every business.
"Business as usual" will no longer be the watchword. If a company wants to remain viable, profitable and open, it needs to be business as unusual!
The experience of the customer must be considered, crafted and created in such a way it leaves them in awe. It leaves them wanting to share with people online how they feel about your business.
The question is, where to they go online? How can you build platforms that help create those spaces? How at the same time can you build relationships that could drive business for the future?
Consumer Focused Platforms
This post continues in the short series, 7 Steps To Pass On A Successful Digital Funeral Business Tomorrow. Many funeral businesses are a second, third or even fourth generation business. Digital disruption has changed the funeral marketplace considerably. To pass on a thriving business to the next generation it now needs a "digital" mindset.
In the previous posts, I explained what the difference between an "analogue" and "digital" mindset, when reviewing your funeral business.
What Is Meant by Customer Focused Platforms?
Any online service that allows you to communicate with your past, existing or potential customers can be a customer-focused platform.
By selecting an appropriate platform, it can help you build a consistent "voice." Building these platforms takes time. It takes a commitment to steady growth. However, it will pay many dividends for the digital funeral business. It builds awareness and trust over time.
The key is to see these platforms through the eyes of the customer, not the business. Too often the copy on funeral business websites is all about the company.
- How long have we been in business?
- How many cars we have.
- We say that we are a "family" business.
- We have a chapel of rest.
And so on ..... and on .... and on ....
While of course, these are all important features of the business, they are not a benefit of doing business with your firm.
There is a big difference between features and benefits.
When you focus your attention on the customer, you ask different questions. What would make the experience of doing business with our firm different? Who is the hero in the "story" of your business? If you make the customer the hero, and you a guide, it can have enormous benefits online.
Here are four online platforms that you can use to build a digital presence for your customers.
Email Newsletters - Using the free service of an email provider like MailChimp, it is simple and useful to create an email list of clients. Add a sign up on your website. Add your new clients to the list when then contact you. It is important to inform customers that you will be emailing them details from time to time. They will always have the opportunity not to receive these emails.
Depending on the quality of the content that you create, a quarterly newsletter is not something people object receiving. It keeps your business name in their minds and is a way that you can demonstrate that you are focusing on their needs. Articles on bereavement, and supporting local charities. Alternatively, articles on estate planning, and digital legacy issues. These help build an ongoing relationship with your firm.
LinkedIn - Having a professional and well written LinkedIn profile gives credibility and strengthens a reputation online for your business. LinkedIn is a social network for you to connect with other professionals in your area. These could be Care Homes, Hospices, or doctors and coroners. By connecting online, it raises your profile as a thought leader in your community. Other professionals in the area can see this, and it builds awareness of your firm. For a free-eBook on 7 Key Benefits For A Funeral Director For Having A LinkedIn Profile - please notice the sign-up form below.
Facebook - Most of your clients or families will have a Facebook account. People are using this platform as a way to share their grief and create memorials to those that they have loved. Families now choose to keep the profile of the person active. They keep posting messages to the person they have lost. Careful, appropriate use of this platform allows people to connect and share online. The most important factor here is focusing on the customer. Pictures of the new shiny limo will not help much! Beautiful image quotes and articles on dealing with bereavement can contribute to building this platform for your business.
Leave out the funny cat videos! You think I jest ... no, many Funeral Directors are posting such content!
Facebook can be a very powerful platform to use to build a connection with your customers. Sharing content here can also create awareness with the individual families network.
Twitter - Though a social network and an online platform, Twitter can be confusing and some "don't get it." It is an excellent platform to build awareness in your community. Frequent, targeted conversation on Twitter can make connections with local businesses. It can establish your name in a community and showcase your firm online. It is a very different platform than any of the other ideas above. However, used correctly it can be a unique way of building relationships with existing and potential clients.
Next Steps - "Do Try This At Home!"
Many funeral businesses I speak to say things like, "we tried Facebook, and it did not work." My question when consulting with them is, "what were you expecting it to do?" Yes, these platforms can and will in time with consistent use and work drive business to your firm. Mostly, they are about creating an online presence. That people can find you, learn about what makes you different and why they should choose your firm.
It is not only now about dealing with the death of a loved one, but customers also want to buy pre-paid funeral plans. They want information about digital legacy issues. Customers want to ask questions about dealing with death as the recent Dying Matters awareness week demonstrates.
Don't try to build all these platforms at once. Choose one, start, research, ask, "If I had just lost someone, what would I want to know?" Think customer not your business. Think what would I need, rather than what we offer. Think what questions do customers ask, then answer those first.
The journey to becoming a digital funeral business is difficult. It takes time. It takes a change of attitude. It takes a change of approach and mostly that is a customer focused approach.
Which of these platforms are you already using? I would love to hear how it is growing and what content you are creating. That is the topic of the next post in this series.
Please contact me - I would love to hear from you!