Funeral homes have a problem.
How do they continue to offer unique and personal experiences in an ever-digital world?
Every line of work is facing digital revolutions. A recent article in Hubspot claimed that “There is no such thing as an offline business anymore.”
And it’s true — any business that isn’t investing in a digital presence will slowly find itself losing to competitors. Technology is 100% necessary in order to stay competitive and to adapt to modern business practices.
But for funeral homes, it’s more complex than just going digital — they also need to maintain the personal and human element of their business. Sometimes with technology, it can be hard to make those connections.
So how can a funeral home excel at being human in a digital age?
Personalize Every Aspect of Communication
Funeral homes are a human-to-human business. When dealing with any communication, find a way to personalize it. Here are a few simple ideas:
- Provide a handwritten signature to letters and cards, or take the next step and write the entire letter by hand. It might be time-consuming, but it also goes a long way in showing that your funeral home is deeply invested in personal relationships.
- Use Facebook as an easy way to track families’ birthdays and send a personalized card.
- If you’re running a preneed program, personalize every aspect of it — from direct mailers, to seminars, to follow-up letters.
Online engagement is just as important as offline engagement. If your funeral home does a good job of establishing a reputation through clubs and organizations in the community, don’t stop there — engaging people online yields the same benefits as offline.
- The simplest place to start is actually being on social media. If your funeral home doesn’t have at least a Facebook page, it probably should.
- Don’t use social media to sell, use it to be social. Tell or share inspirational and meaningful stories. Death is still a taboo topic and makes people uncomfortable. But sharing stories can be a way to open up the conversation about death. Stories also are a powerful method for helping those who are grieving.
- Be conversational. Social media shouldn’t be a one-way street — when someone comments on a post you’ve shared or messages your funeral home directly, get back to them with the same speed you’d return a phone call. Responding creates trust and builds loyalty with your families. Here are some more tips on how to respond to families online.
Offer Your Own Clubs
Joining an organization or club in the community increases your funeral home’s exposure to families in the area. That’s why so many funeral directors already do it.
But if you want to bring a uniquely personal experience for families, your funeral home could offer its own club. The club could have any focus — seniors, grief support, a volunteer group — and it would be a way to bring your funeral home and families together more than ever before.
For example, imagine your funeral home creates a “Golden Years” club for seniors. It would cost seniors nothing to join, they would simply sign up through an email, mailing address, and their phone number. The club could operate both online and off.
Online resources you could share include:
- Emails about healthy habits for seniors.
- Personalized aftercare and grieving programs/literature.
- A Facebook group (for members only) where they can discuss topics among themselves.
Offline ideas for the group include:
- Educational programs or volunteer opportunities.
- Monthly activities for exercise.
- Entertainment events.
- Community lunches.
- Throw an annual holiday program.
It’s an opportunity to expand beyond your traditional services and make deeply personal connections within the community.
Think Outside the Box
One funeral home was in the news recently for providing families a truly unique experience. The Texas funeral home invited everyone to sign up for the paid pro version of Vital ICE (In Case of Emergency) app under the funeral home’s account. The smartphone app offers potentially lifesaving information to EMS and first responders.
It’s an out-of-the-box idea, but one that will keep the funeral home’s name in the minds of families for a long time.