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The Funeral Rule: Not So Bad; Requiring Online Prices: Not So Good

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Thanks to Joshua Slocum and the Funeral Consumers Alliance, the media have jumped all over the “funeral-prices-are-so-hard-to-find” bandwagon. From there it’s a short ride to believing that mandatory posting of prices on funeral home websites is an easy solution for simplifying funeral options and costs. Can it really be that easy? Do funeral professionals want to make access to information difficult? Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Trends that Shaped Funeral Service–Part I

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In many people’s minds, 2016 will be remembered as the year celebrities dropped like flies. According to Legacy.com, the number of celebrity deaths was comparable to previous years, but three factors made it appear that celebrities were dying in droves: 1) a higher-than-average number of those who died were either A-list or legendary stars; 2) many musicians died who had extremely loyal fan bases; and 3) the average age of celebrities who died this year was about 10 years younger than usual.

Aside from celebrity deaths, growing pains continued to reach every aspect of funeral service. During the last 12 months we saw some outrageous trends, some of which have already used up their 15 minutes of fame. Other news stories highlighted shifts in public preferences that merit our continued attention, even if these changes seem undignified to some traditionalists.

Part I of this blog will examine five topics which drew national, and sometimes international, attention to funeral service in ways that are relevant to serving families in the near future. Next week, Part II will examine five more topics.  Read the rest of this entry »

Networking: Make It Personal

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7-21 McClure Networking CoverIn today’s world of social networking and associated technologies, it’s easy to conduct business from behind the desk or mobile device. As a society, are we forgetting the importance of face-to-face interaction?   While funeral service professionals interact with families face-to-face on a daily basis, it is easy during slow periods to stay inside and behind screens. To expand your business and your network of relationships, it is imperative that you take the time to enrich yourself and your businesses by participating in varied networking opportunities outside the funeral home.

In-person relationships and events are where we learn more about the people we do business with, meet potential customers, and expand our business knowledge. We must commit to taking advantage of these opportunities and learn some things that we just couldn’t learn the same way online.

Try these easy tips for making networking personal and learn something new.  Read the rest of this entry »

Online Funeral Arrangements: Start Planning Now

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1Are families ready to make funeral arrangements online? Funeral professionals often look at me like I’m crazy when I ask that question. They say, “Families will never forego personal connections when they plan something as important and as sensitive as making funeral arrangements.” Just like the national cremation rate would never exceed 50 percent, right? Read the rest of this entry »

How to Write Better Obituaries

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This article originally appeared in the March issue of Mortuary Management. Writer Kim Stacey will be hosting OGR’s June 16 webinar and takes the time to share how to write a better obituary.

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Late last year Jessica A. Smith of the Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) asked me to be a course leader for a 2016 OGR-sponsored webinar about writing obituaries. The webinar, titled “How to Write an Obituary Worth Reading,” is slated for mid-June, and “will look at the factors which make a good obituary” as well as “provide a forum where funeral professionals can share their obituary-writing experiences and learn from one another.”

The topic was prompted, in part, by the recent rise of the “viral” obituary, where the story (or the personal agenda of the writer) resonates so deeply with readers that the obituary is shared — using popular social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter — by millions of Internet users.

article-0-1BC0557D000005DC-592_634x403You know the ones I’m talking about. Think back to 2013 when the obituary of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was published. This scathing “tribute,” written by her surviving adult children, included sentences like these: “Everyone she met, adult or child, was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit,” and “We celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children.” It also featured a call for “a national movement and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.” This lurid story, combined with the expression of vengeful desire and the direct “call-to-action,” made this obituary an overnight global sensation.  Read the rest of this entry »

4 Lies about a Funeral Home Facebook Page

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“Facebook is for the younger generation.”

“There’s no evidence we’ll get any return on investment from Facebook.”

“Not having a Facebook page prevents families from positing negative reviews of my funeral home.”

“It takes too much time to figure out how to use Facebook for business.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?  While many funeral homes are already connecting with their families online and providing a space for them to get information, connect with their loved ones, and learn more about funeral service, other funeral home are not. These firms are skeptical about putting any time into Facebook.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with Negative Online Reviews for Funeral Homes

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This week’s guest post is by Robin Heppell of Funeral Futurist, a funeral home consulting business. Robin presented at OGR’s Fall Forum on the hazards of the Internet and how online reviews can benefit and harm your firm. This week’s post* delves more extensively into this topic. Read below for Robin’s tips for handling negative online reviews.

How did you feel when you saw your first negative online review? Mad, irritated, concerned?

I have had a couple of clients who found themselves in this position. After talking through it, we put a plan together to make the most out of the situation.

badreviews2Before we talk about the plan, I want to debunk some bad advice. Some people say not to respond to negative reviews because those reviews will be the first ones people see when they visit your Yelp or Google page. The problem with this strategy is that people are going to find poor reviews anyway, and if left unanswered, the complaint has more power.

I recommend responding to every negative review – but you can’t just blurt something out – you have to make sure that you have a methodical plan.

Here is my 3 step plan for dealing with negative reviews.  Read the rest of this entry »