Competitors: Which ones really matter?

At the start of every project, my clients always give me some background on their local competitors. For example, they’ll tell me their history, call volume, which church they attend, etc.

My clients often believe that my role is to help them beat their competitors. It’s not.

My role is to help grow their business. To do that, I create a growth strategy, design a marketing campaign, manage the execution, and adjust along the way.

Sometimes I care about a local competitor or two, but in most cases, I don’t.

Here are the three types of competitors I care about when developing a growth strategy for a client.

#1 – Competitors who give families a compelling reason for families to choose them.

At least 95% of funeral home websites say the same thing.
“Serving families since 1890” (no one cares)
“Professional & caring” (you’re supposed to be)
“Family-owned” (overused, and most people don’t care)

But if I see a website that says something like “exclusive provider of…..” or “the area’s only….” that’s a competitor that I’ll take a closer look at.

That doesn’t mean they’ve got it right, but at least they’re attempting to give families a reason to choose them.

Remember that if you don’t give people a reason to choose you, they will use price to decide.

#2 – Competitors who are innovators.

100% of my successful clients are innovators. They are constantly changing and evolving to meet the needs of today’s families.

A big part of my value to clients is to be the source of new innovation ideas. When I create a growth strategy for someone, a list of innovations is always included. But first, I need to check the competitors to see if anyone has already implemented the same ideas.

For example, I might recommend adding a gazebo outside to create a casual gathering spot. But if a competitor already has one, I’ll develop a different idea.

My goal with innovations is to create something unique that families will love and we can market. The last thing I want to do is innovate just to catch up to a competitor.

#3 – Competitors owned by some of the corporate chains.

Many of the corporate funeral home conglomerates are nothing more than holding companies. They own funeral homes as an investment, but they don’t add value.

But a chain like SCI is different because they have excellent preneed marketing. So if there is an SCI firm in the area, we will need to focus on preneed before they swallow it all up.

Similarly, if we’re competing against a Foundation Partners firm, I know that my list of innovations has to be excellent because they have some great innovations.

So if I don’t care about most of your competitors, who do I care about?

Your customers.

An effective growth strategy differentiates you from your competition and connects you to your customers. Most funeral homes use cookie-cutter marketing (if any) so differentiating is pretty easy.

Connecting you to local families is where the magic happens. That takes a combination of innovations that they will love and effective marketing that keeps you top of mind.

One of the common concerns that I hear from clients is that they have competitors who copy everything they do. Unfortunately, you might have someone like that in your market.

Here’s how we deal with a Mr. Copycat.

Take the list of innovations and spread them out over a year. For example, if you have six innovations, plan on rolling them one out every two months. Also, make sure that each item has a marketing campaign to promote it.

Let’s say you’re going to add a Funeral Celebrant. You hire or train the person then start the campaign.

Mr. Copycat will immediately start the process of finding his own celebrant to catch up. That’ll take him at least a month or two. Plus, he has to come up with a marketing campaign.

Just when he’s ready to launch, you roll out innovation #2.

Give him a couple of months to copy that innovation, then roll out innovation #3.

And continue this for the entire year.

By the end of a year, you’ll have six innovations fully rolled out.

Mr. Copycat might have finished #1, but the rest of the projects are only half done because he kept chasing your latest innovation and never completely implementing anything.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, used to have a sign in his office that said, “Keep our competitors focused on us, while we focus on our customers.”

That’s what you want to do with your competitors. Keep them focused on you while you focus on your customers. It works for Amazon, and it works for my clients as well.

Until next time

John

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  1. Pingback: Funeral Home Marketing: Your Real Competition – Funeral Home Marketing & Advertising Consultant

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