Funeral Home Marketing – 5 Budget Mistakes

“How much should I spend on marketing?”

That’s a common question that I hear from new clients.

A few years ago, I was presenting at ICCFA and stopped by another session on marketing budgets. The speaker was adamant that 8% of sales was the minimum an owner should budget for marketing and more if they were in a competitive situation.

Most well-run funeral homes have an annual operating budget that includes a line item for marketing. Here are five common mistakes I’ve seen funeral home owners make with their marketing budget.

#1 Thinking there is a right or wrong percentage of sales

Calculating the size of your marketing budget as a percentage of sales is a common practice. But what is the correct percentage? 5% of projected sales? 8%? 10%?

Most owners will refer to an industry average and go with that figure. But that can be a huge mistake because the average figure includes small 50 call firms serving a neighborhood and massive 1,000+ call firms serving entire metro areas. 

My largest client spends 4% of his gross income on marketing. But he’s running a 100-year-old business that is well known in the area. Name recognition is not a problem for him.

I have other clients who spend 10% because they are still trying to grow their market share.

There is no one perfect percentage that works for every funeral home. 

#2 Ignoring the message

It’s really easy to spend a lot of money on advertising and get no increase in call volume. Was it the wrong media? Was it the size of the ad? 

In my experience, the vast majority of ads fail because they do not communicate a message that connects with the target audience. Instead, they talk about themselves too much and not about a problem people want to solve.

All too often, marketing budgets only deal with the cost of advertising and skip the step of creating a message that people care about. That’s a huge mistake.

#3 Advertising in the wrong place

Even if you create the perfect marketing message, it’s really easy to waste your entire budget by advertising in the wrong place. 

Television is a great example. If you have multiple locations or can serve an entire community, it might make sense. But if 90% of your families come from a five-mile radius around your funeral home, then running TV ads would be an expensive mistake.

I hear a lot of advice these days from digital marketing agencies recommending that business owners advertise on Tik Tok because it is exploding in popularity. That might make sense for some businesses, but that would be a waste of money for funeral homes.

You should always ask yourself, will my target audience see my ad? 

Putting your ad in front of someone who will never be your customer or who won’t be for 50 years doesn’t make much sense.

#4 Ignoring the follow-up process

How often do people buy something the first time they hear about it? Rarely. In fact, most people need to hear from you eight times before they’ll do business with you.

When it comes to preneed sales, people will need to hear from you ten or more times before they’ll finally take action.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen many funeral homes running preneed ads but ignoring the follow-up process. Often, they don’t even have a preneed person and assume that their Funeral Directors will do the follow-up work.

Spending your marketing budget to generate leads that no one will follow up with is a complete waste of money.

#5 Understanding that the funeral experience is the best marketing

My clients always ask new families, “What brought you to us?” or “Why did you choose our funeral home?”.

The most common answer is, “We attended a service here recently and knew you’d make it special.”

Never underestimate the marketing value of providing a great funeral experience to everyone who attends a service. You may be caring for one family, but you’re marketing to every person who walks through your doors.

The best form of marketing for any funeral home is to provide a great experience to every person. Rather than spending money on advertising to influence the overall market, spend it on upgrading your funeral experience, and you’ll get a much higher ROI.

Those are five common mistakes funeral home owners make with their marketing budget. Avoid these mistakes if you plan to invest in marketing in the coming year.

Until next time



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