The Two Sides of Every Funeral Home Business

There are two sides to every business; Outside Perception and Inside Reality.

The Outside Perception is what people think of your funeral home before they do business with you. Your marketing primarily creates this perception.

The Inside Reality is what goes on within your business. It’s your products, services, people, process, facility, aftercare, etc.

In this newsletter, I’ll discuss what happens when your Outside Perception and Inside Reality are out of sync and how I typically address each scenario.

A common analogy is to think of business as a relationship. Initially, everything is superficial and you’re just seeing the Outside Perception.

As the relationship progresses you start to get some glimpses into the Inside Reality. Often, there are a few surprises as you get to know someone a little better.

Eventually, you move past the Outside Perception and only deal with someone’s Inside Reality. Sometimes that’s like the unveiling of a beautiful portrait. And, sometimes a person’s Inside Reality can scare the heck out of you!

Funeral home businesses are the same way. When the Outside Perception and Inside Reality are out of sync, it surprises the family you’re serving. Sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise, but not always.

Below are the four common scenarios I see when working with a new client.

Scenario #1 – Typical Outside Perception & Typical Inside Reality

In this scenario, marketing has created an outside perception that your funeral home is basically the same as your competitors. Your website content is 95% generic, maybe you’ve updated the staff and location photos, and added a short history page but that’s about it.

In addition, your online reputation is not significantly better or worse than your competitors and your use of social media is amateur at best.

Then when a family comes into your funeral home they experience an Inside Reality that is not overly remarkable. Yes, you were kind and courteous but that is what the family expects so it’s not going to make you stand out in the crowd.

Remember that when all things are equal the deciding criteria is always the price. Your outside perception and inside reality is the same as your competitors’; therefore, consumers are inclined to want the lowest possible price. The net result of this scenario is that you’ve created price shoppers.

For clients like this, I typically help them innovate their funeral experience so they are better than their competition. Then we upgrade the marketing to create a better outside perception.

Scenario #2 – Typical Outside Perception & Great Inside Reality

Funeral homes that fall into this category are the “best-kept secret” in town.

They have done something internally that allows them to create a great funeral experience for families. Yet, they market the same as every other funeral home in town, so consumers think of them as the same.

This scenario creates what I like to call “quiet fans.” They’re happy, but they’re not going to bother sharing the view.

This one is my personal favorite! For this client, we focus on capturing family feedback and then create new marketing to help everyone know about our great inside reality.

Scenario #3 – Great Outside Perception & Typical Inside Reality

In this scenario, the funeral home owner has invested heavily in marketing and created a great outside perception. Maybe they’ve hired a marketing agency to make a big splash in the local area and help them get more five-star reviews. The net result is they look pretty good from the outside.

But when a family walks in the door, expecting something great, they have a funeral experience that is no better than what they could have received anywhere else in town.

This scenario is a house of cards and is destined to fail eventually. Families who expected a five-star experience didn’t get it, and they will be disappointed. Their dissatisfaction will be reflected in new Google reviews and negative word-of-mouth in the community.

In this case, I have them stop spending any money on marketing that creates a false outside perception. Then we upgrade the Inside Reality so that we have something unique to market.

Scenario #4 – Great Outside Perception & Great Inside Reality

Every funeral home should strive to fall into this category.

They have excellent marketing that creates a great outside perception, and then they back it up with a great inside reality that delivers a superior funeral experience.

During the pandemic, most funeral homes were struggling to make ends meet. But funeral homes in this category increased revenue and market share.

Families served by funeral homes in this category are not quiet fans. They are raving fans. The goodwill and fans you have created feed directly into your market engine, and your business will grow.

For this type of client, I help them work on their leadership and communication skills so that they can scale the business. We also might look for other locations to acquire so we can replicate the model and expand the business even more.

Outside Perception and Inside Reality; the two sides to every funeral home business. Use great marketing to attract families to your superior funeral experience, and your business is almost guaranteed to grow.

Until next time


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