Funeral Home Marketing: Your Real Competition

Last week’s article was about your funeral home competitors and which ones mattered. I outlined how I pay attention to three types of competitors.

  1. Competitors who give families a compelling reason for families to choose them.
  2. Competitors who are innovators.
  3. Competitors owned by some of the corporate chains.

Those are referred to as “direct competitors,” which is another business offering similar services and is in the same industry classification.

In most markets, I find that your real competition comes from indirect competitors. Those are businesses in another classification offering a service that solves the same problem.

Here are the three main indirect competitors.

#1 – Direct cremation businesses

A direct cremation business and a funeral home are in different business categories, which means they are indirect competitors. And yet, for most funeral home owners, it’s the direct cremation firm that keeps them up at night. 

A direct cremation business and funeral home both solve the problem of the disposition of remains. Of course, funeral homes solve many more issues, but as long as their marketing focuses on disposition, consumers think they are comparing apples to apples.

#2 – Some churches

The mother of one of my team members recently passed away. His family used a local funeral home to cremate the remains and held a visitation and memorial service at their church. 

I asked him why they made that choice, and he said that walking into the local funeral home felt like walking into a stuffy old house. But, on the other hand, his church was fairly new, with a large brightly lit sanctuary and excellent multi-media equipment.

He said that the service for his mother was beautiful, and they had a lot of comments from people who said that they preferred this over going to a funeral home.

Not all churches offer this type of service, but it is becoming increasingly common, especially in large Evangelical churches. Some even have a dedicated group of funeral volunteers ready to conduct memorial services for congregation members and their families. 

#3 Event planners

Funeral homes solve two main problems; the practical need to dispose of the remains and the emotional need to gather together and acknowledge the loss.

Direct cremation firms are your indirect competition for the disposition of the remains.

Event planners are your indirect competition for the gathering events. In fact, event planner associations have specifically identified memorial events and celebrations of life as a growing business opportunity for their members.

Just like churches, event planners tell families to use a direct cremation company and then let them create and manage the memorial event.

Many families choose to cremate the body right away and hold a memorial event later. Unfortunately, that opens the door to event planners who typically need more time to prepare for an event.

Lighten in Chicago is a great example. You can check them out at

Their website is almost entirely focused on the memorial event and only vaguely mentions disposition. They’ve “partnered” with a local cremation provider for this service. 

Their website has two messages that jumped out at me. “Does the thought of setting foot in a funeral home make you cringe?” and “Looking for a way to honor your loved one outside of a somber funeral home?”.

That sure sounds like a funeral home competitor to me!!

In the past, you only needed to worry about the other funeral homes in town. However, the competitor who should keep you up at night is a local church or event planner teamed with a direct cremation business.

Until next time,



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