Learning From Other Industries

We can learn a lot by observing changes in other industries. Sometimes we can modify the innovation a little, bring it into the funeral industry, and create an advantage over our competition.

I’m in the process of buying another car. I live in Michigan, and our roads are covered in rust-causing salt for half the year. The late-model Ford Ranger that my son was using at college had turned into a money pit as rust slowly devoured the truck.

Fortunately, the used car market is hot right now, and we were able to sell it quickly for a great price.

Which means I’m spending hours scouring AutoTrader.com looking for a replacement vehicle for him. Most of the local dealerships post their current inventory on AutoTrader, so it’s a lot easier to search there instead of each dealer’s website.

One new dealership kept popping up in the search results, Vroom.com. They’re not local, but they had their inventory posted to AutoTrader as if they are.

When you check their website, you find that they have a very different business model than traditional car dealerships. The entire purchase process is online, and they deliver the car to your door.

Would anyone do this? Well, their website claims to have sold 250,000 vehicles since they started in 2013, so I guess the answer is yes.

Vroom offers some key advantages over local dealerships. For one thing, there is no haggling with a sales manager who is playing a shell game with the numbers and trying to put the squeeze on the buyer.

Vroom also has a seven-day buyback guarantee. If for any reason you don’t like the car, just ship it back to them.

Some local dealerships will offer a shorter buyback guarantee on new cars, but very few dealers offer that on used cars, and there has never been a seven-day window.

Vroom’s marketing targets Millennials, but even a Baby Boomer such as myself can see the value of what they are offering.

Local dealerships should be worried. Their core business model is at risk.

Vroom is succeeding because of one key reason…innovation. They have reinvented the car buying experience, and that allows them to market those innovations.

Innovation and marketing go hand in hand. Whenever you innovate a business, you create a unique advantage that you can then market. Without innovation, marketing becomes much harder and much less effective.

I delivered a Strategic Marketing Plan to a new client this week. In it, I outlined twelve recommendations to help grow his business. Of the twelve, at least eight of the recommendations are innovations.

We’re going to innovate his business so that we have something unique to market. When implemented correctly, the result is more calls and more families to serve. This is the basic formula I’ve used with all of my clients for years.

Fortunately, his competitors are all very traditional funeral homes and haven’t changed anything in decades. Let’s just say the innovation bar is set pretty low.

Funeral homes serve every generation of a family. However, your marketing should target the generation who is currently making funeral decisions.

Today that means that you should be aiming for Baby Boomers.

The GI and Silent generations cared about things like how long you have been in the community and that you are a caring professional who is only a phone call away.

Guess what Baby Boomers care about? Innovations.

Boomers see themselves as being very different than the previous generations. They want to hear about how your funeral home is different than your competitors, not how long you’ve been in business.

Vroom is succeeding by innovating the car buying experience in ways that Millennials value. They might also end up getting some of my Boomer money because one of their innovations is extremely valuable to me.

Vroom makes it easy to buy a car that has spent its’ entire life outside of the rust belt. That’s something that gets my attention!

One of the best ways to sell a used car in my area is to advertise that it is from a southern or western state. A car like that might have some fading or normal wear and tear, but it will typically have no rust.

You can bring a car like that to Michigan, get it rust proofed, and use it for 10+ years.

I could buy a car off eBay and accomplish the same thing. But eBay does not offer a seven-day buyback guarantee, so Vroom might be the source of my son’s next car.

Until next time


PS: Remember, Baby Boomers care about innovations. If you haven’t changed your funeral experience in decades, now might be a good time to get started.

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