Is Funeral Home Advertising a Waste of Money?

Too many funeral home owners waste a lot of money on advertising. I’m certainly not opposed to advertising, but I’m not too fond of wasting money.

First, you have to pay someone to create the ad, and then you pay a media company to run the ad for you as often as possible. It’s the same process whether you run Facebook ads, television commercials, or billboards.

In most cases, the cost of creating the ad is trivial in comparison to the cost of running the ad. Some media sales reps will even offer to design the ad for “free” if you pay to run it for a set amount of time.

But the problem isn’t the media (TV, Facebook, radio, etc.). The problem is the ad itself. In most cases, the ads are fundamentally flawed, and you would have been better off spending the money on something else.

Whenever I review an ad, I use the following five tests to determine whether the ad will help my client’s business or if it’s a waste of money.

Test #1 – “I would hope so!”

Imagine if an automotive repair shop ran an ad that says, “We fix your car right the first time.” Someone reading that ad would automatically think, “I would hope so” because that’s what you expect a mechanic to do.

A funeral home ad that includes things like “we provide caring and compassionate service” gets the same “I would hope so” response because people expect that of you.

Does the ad make a point that is the public already expects you to do? If so, it’s a waste of money.

Test #2 – Who else can say that?

The goal of any ad should be to help you stand out in a crowded market. But all too often, funeral homes run generic advertisements that would be true regardless of who is running it.

Here’s a simple exercise you can do. Take your ad, cross out your name/logo/address and write in the name of your competitor.

If the ad is still valid, then it’s a bad ad and isn’t worth your money to run.

Test #3 – Does the message match the media?

A freeway billboard near my house displays an ad from a local funeral home. Every time I drive past it, I have to laugh because it’s so bad.

The problem is that their designer took a testimonial off the client’s website and turned it into a billboard. Ouch!

The chances of someone reading the ad while driving past at 75 MPH are zero. Even if you are stuck in a traffic jam right in front of the billboard, you wouldn’t be able to read it because the font is too small.

Every time you create an ad, you have to keep in mind the media you will use to distribute the ad. If you get this step wrong, you will probably waste a lot of money.

Test #4 – Are you making a point that people care about?

One of my clients has a competitor who runs an ad focused on how long they’ve been in business. The ad has a headline that says, “professional funeral services since 1875”.

Does anyone care about that point? Not really.

The owner and maybe some local history buffs care. But for the average person, they don’t care that you’ve been providing funerals since 1875. Instead, they care about what you can do for me today!

Always make sure that you focus your ad on something local families care about. If it’s not, it’s a waste of money.

Test #5 – Are you being insensitive?

This last one should be obvious, but it needs to be said anyway. Please make sure that your ads aren’t insensitive or too “in your face” about death. There’s a fine line that you cannot cross.

For example, a marketing firm in the funeral industry runs Google Ads with the headline “Did someone die?”. That crosses the line.

If you search YouTube for “Colonial Funeral Home,” you’ll find a TV commercial with someone jumping out of a casket yelling, “$15,000!! That’s enough to raise the dead”. That crosses the line.

Funeral professionals are comfortable with death, but the general public is terrified of it. If your ad crosses the line, it is a waste of money.

Those are five easy tests that you can apply to any funeral home advertisement.

  1. I would hope so!
  2. Who else can say that?
  3. Does the message match the media?
  4. Are you making a point that people care about?
  5. Are you being insensitive?

If your ad fails any of these tests, it’s a waste of your money.

Until next time


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