Chapter 11 – Information
This chapter builds off of the Tell Your Full Story chapter. Hopkins is a huge believer in gathering as much information as possible before writing your ad. Even though this could be more directed to advertising agencies getting to know their clients product, this fact finding process can be used by funeral homes to survey their communities – and I am not talking about preneed surveys.
Also using the results from the latest Whirtlin or Pollara Report would be along the same lines. For instance, in the latest Pollara Report from 2010 – the Canadian version of the Whirthlin Report – it was discovered that 73% of Canadians what a Celebration of Life service for themselves. This is great news for a country that has well over 50% cremation. I would urge every funeral home to add a “Celebration of Life” service offering to their general price list. It can be the the exact same price and description as your traditional funeral, just name it to something that people want.
With this in mind, as you listen or read Hopkins example about baked beans – just think that all of your competitors are saying choose a funeral at our funeral home – and you could be could be taking a different approach.
Hopkins ends the chapter by saying that this is no lazy man’s field. And even though it is hard work, you can bet that your competitor isn’t going to the same lengths as you are to master your advertising.
Chapter 12 – Strategy
This chapter is particularly important for funeral homes in competitive markets, as Hopkins tackles the topic of Strategic Marketing.
He talks about having relationships with dealers and I would equate that to have relationships with hospice and clergy – the people who are there when client families are making those decisions.
He also talks about names and naming products – and in our case, services and warns about using cute or clever names.
Hopkins stresses that you have to focus on individuals in your marketing and not the masses and that you need to have something exclusive or unique to offer. If you are thinking that all funeral homes in your area offer the same thing, then revisit the Schlitz Beer example in Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 – Use of Samples
This chapter may seem that is doesn’t really apply to us funeral directors but I see a couple of parallels that can be applied to funeral home marketing.
Two of the examples I have brought up briefly before. You could apply Hopkins advice on how to distribute your Estate Planning Guides – making sure that they are not freely given out. Also, offering a Free Planning Consultation which is focused purely on the service and not the finances.
Another strategy that could be used is the use of coupons – and now before you think this is too cheesy, you need to use them in the correct way. I would have a bunch of coupons on your home page or obituary page of your website, but I would definitely suggest that they could be used on landing pages from your Google AdWords campaigns. If your ads are worded properly, then you know that these people are in the decision making process.
They would also be an unobtrusive way to introduce new products / services such as Thumbies, Memorial Woven Blankets, Cremation Jewelry or even Catering and Reception offerings. Instead of trying to introduce these items at the end of a 90 minute arrangement, families would be pre-conditioned to these offerings and may even ask for them or at least ask for more information about them without you having to bring them up.
Chapter 14 – Getting Distribution
This chapter applies more to funeral homes indirectly than directly. In this case the funeral home can be seen as the dealer for the product vendors whether it be caskets, urns, vaults, cremation jewelry or burial garment. You should be aware of how you are being used in the marketing strategies of the vendors.
And even though they are not advertising direct to the public, they are advertising through you, in your selection rooms and displays.
Something to note about Hopkins is that his sweet spot for clients were those who sold consumable – repeatedly purchased products on a national level – things like cereal, shaving cream and beer.
Our offerings are on a local level and only purchased once – so it is a bit different than Hopkins market, but to become an excellent marketer, you should become a student of all marketing – especially to observe how you, yourself are influenced by ads and make purchases.
Chapter 15 – Test Campaigns
This is the keystone for Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising – testing. And now, we have it so much better than him. He had to wait weeks to get replies to measure his advertising and while that is still true for our print ads, other forms of advertising can be measured a lot quicker Today. We have Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and Google Analytics, plus other online tracking systems as well as using specific phone numbers to track the effectiveness of advertising – Hopkins would have been in his hay day.
I think that the following concept is the most important marketing concept that I have learned – Hopkins says: None of us know enough people’s desires to get an average viewpoint…. Now we let the thousands decide what the millions will buy.
So first off run, to see if an ad works, let’s test it on a small segment before we run it on our whole market. You are going to need to run a test of at least 1,000 units before you know how it works and then test another 1,000 against that.
Now here is what usually happens, we create a marketing piece and run it by our staff or friends but this isn’t a pure or true test because those people are going to be too familiar or even biased to your offerings. Plus, unless you have access to 2,000 friends to get a true read on a marketing piece – keep it to yourself. Even by listening to this book, you have 100 times the knowledge about marketing than the rest of your staff.
My motto – know the difference between advice and options. Everyone has an opinion, but few are qualified to provide advice.
So no more “Marketing By Committee”…ok! You can have someone proofread it – but don’t accept any marketing advice – except if you have a really successful preneed rep that closes a lot of sales face to face – then that is expert advice.
Remember – that next campaign that you run – make sure that you test it. Then you will know for certainty what 50% of your advertising is working – and eventually you will know 100%!