Marketing Personalization

Personalization….you hear about it at every trade
show, you hear about it from every merchandise vendor,
and you read about it in every trade magazine.

Ten years ago only a small percentage of funeral home
owners had jumped on the personalization bandwagon.
Today…the situation has completely reversed. If
you’re not personalizing every service you’re a rare
(and probably struggling) funeral home.

One of my clients likes to say “as long as it’s
ethical, legal, and moral I’ll let a family do just
about anything they want”. The last time I was at his
funeral home he was trying to figure out how to get a
vintage tractor through his doorway. I asked him why
he was doing it and he said “it’s important to
the family, I don’t need another reason”.

In this newsletter I’m not going to focus on how to
personalize. You’ve got lots of information on that

Instead, this newsletter focuses on how to market your
personalized services.

The key thing you have to understand about
personalization is that it is not unique to the
funeral home industry. In fact, personalization is a
HUGE trend in all customer focused businesses.

Decades ago Burger King ran a very successful
advertising campaign with the theme “have it your
way”. I’ll bet you can still remember the jingle that
went with the commercials.

The hottest segment of the car industry these days is
aftermarket customization. People will spend $30K or
$40K on a new car and then spend another $30k+
customizing is so that it doesn’t look like anyone
else’s car.

Every wedding planner knows that they have to focus on
making the event unique because no two brides want the
exact same wedding.

Order a shirt from Lands End and they’ll monogram it
for you.

Do you see the pattern here?…..

Ten years ago a funeral home could stand out in
their local market by offering personalization.    They
could advertise that they were the only funeral home
in the area that offered personalization and immediately
attract more calls.

But times have changed so your marketing has to

Today’s consumers expect some level of personalization
from every business and a funeral home is no
exception. But just adding the word “Personalized” to
your advertising won’t cut it.

Here’s why….

It’s too easy for your competitors to copy you!

All they have to do is add the word “Personalized” to
their advertising and they are immediately equal to

Yes, I know that when they say “Personalized” and when
you say “Personalized” you mean two totally different
things. And maybe they don’t really personalize
anything they just advertise that they do. But it
doesn’t matter…

For the prospective family looking at your ad or your
website they see two funeral homes that both advertise
“Personalization”. From the consumers perspective they
are choosing between two funeral homes that do the
same thing. That’s a really bad position for any
business owner.

You’ve heard me say this before but it’s always worth
repeating…when all things are equal the deciding
criteria is always price. So if your ad says
“Personalized” and their ad says “Personalized”, all
you’ve done is invited more price shoppers to your
funeral home.

Here’s a very successful strategy that I’ve used for
multiple clients. I should warn you…this is a fairly
aggressive strategy that I only use when one of my
clients has a particularly annoying competitor.

First, come up with a list of 6 ways in which you can
personalize a service. These should be things that
your competitor doesn’t currently offer.

Next, create a series of 6 ads that each spotlight one
of the 6 unique ways that you personalize a service.

For example, you might have one ad that focuses on
dove releases; another that focuses on memorial
blankets; another that focuses on video tributes and
so on…

Next, run these ads one at a time in your local market
(newspaper, radio, whatever works best in your

Here’s the important part…run each ad for only two
weeks then switch to the next ad. You’ve got 6 ads, at
two weeks each, that’s a three month campaign.

Here’s the fun part…it’s going to frustrate the heck
out of your competitors!

The discount guy won’t even try to keep up with you.

A full service competitor will see your ad and
immediately start trying to copy you. They’ll find a
dove supplier and they’ll just be figuring out how to
do it when you’ll suddenly switch to your next ad.

Now they’ll have to start chasing you all over again!

It’s like watching a dog chase its tale. That poor
competitor will spend three months chasing you but
they’ll never catch you because they won’t take the
time to finish any of the innovations.

The two week part is key. You want them to start
chasing you but you don’t want to give them enough
time to catch you.

Three months later they’ll know that you have 6 ways
to personalize a service that they don’t have. They’ve
got 6 files on their desk but nothing has been
implemented. That’s the type of thing that really
irritates a competitive business person.

At this point most full service competitors will drop
their prices and try to go after the discount service
provider (because you’re too hard to catch).

If they don’t…just run the campaign again for
another 3 months.

I’m not doing it to be cruel. I just want them to know
that my client is the market leader and they should
really spend their time trying to take calls from
someone else.

It’s just like training a dog; sometimes you have
repeat the lesson a few times.

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