What went wrong? Funeral Home Marketing for a Preneed Workshop Doesn’t Work Out

“I invested over $8,000 in a preneed marketing campaign that generated only two new preneed contracts. What went wrong?”

This is from a conversation I had with a new client this week. He had put a lot of effort and money into promoting seminars with the hope of closing preneed contracts.

The seminars were held in the banquet room of a local restaurant, and he offered a free dinner to encourage people to attend. In addition, he used direct mail, a Facebook ad, and a newspaper ad to promote the event.

Seventy-three people attended one of four seminars and enjoyed a free dinner. But only two of them took the next step and planned their funerals. What went wrong?

I reviewed the advertising he used for the seminars, and it didn’t take long to spot the problem.

The designer had created an ad with a picture of a steak dinner, with a headline that said “Enjoy a Free Dinner” with a subheadline “while you learn about funeral planning.”

Who would respond to that ad? People who want a free dinner!

The words and images used in an ad communicate a message. You’ve wasted money if your audience doesn’t understand the message. You also waste money if the message does not highlight the right problem.

The first step in fixing your message is to do a better job of telling your story. I discuss this topic in my new report, How to Grow a Great Funeral Home Business – the 10-Step Checklist and expand on it in the supplemental video.

But your story is not about you and the history of your funeral home. Instead, it’s about the families you serve and how you help them.

When working with new clients, one of the first things we create together is called a Story Brand Messaging Framework. This framework then becomes the basis for all future messaging. All advertising must use the points from our messaging framework.

The Story Brand Messaging Framework consists of seven elements.

  1. A Character 
  2. The Problem
  3. Guide
  4. The Plan
  5. Call to Action
  6. Success
  7. Failure

The character in our story is a person who is interested in making funeral arrangements. Regardless of the reason, this is finally something that they are interested in checking off their “to-do” list.

The problem they want to solve is the practical issue of planning a funeral. But right below that issue is a desire to control their farewell message.

The guide is someone who comes alongside the character and helps them. That’s you! 

The guide then provides a plan outlining the steps you will take them through. The key is to make the plan as simple as possible. For example, your preneed plan could be as simple as the following.

  1. Learn about your funeral options
  2. Plan your celebration of life
  3. Continue living a life worth celebrating

The first Call to Action is to come to your seminar. Then, at the seminar, a second Call to Action is to schedule a private meeting to make their funeral arrangements.

In the Success step, we describe what a meaningful funeral can look like and how it benefits their family. The Failure step is a brief description of what their funeral could look like if someone else planned it for them.

Those seven components are woven together into a story. But, again, it’s not your story. It’s the story of a family that you have helped.

When you go through this exercise and have your new messaging framework, you are ready to create ads targeting the correct character and problem.

Instead of ” Enjoy a Free Dinner” and “while you learn about funeral planning” as the headlines, you might use something like “Learn How the Plan Your Funeral” and “dinner is on us.”

By reversing the order, I’m connecting with the person primarily interested in funeral planning instead of the person who mainly wants a free meal. I would also use a picture of someone learning instead of a steak dinner.

Yes, you’ll have fewer people attend, but they will be much better prospects, and you will convert a higher percentage.

Remember, never spend money on advertising until you have a messaging framework. Otherwise, your just buying people dinner and getting nothing in return.

Until next time


PS: Yes, you need a different messaging framework for at-need and preneed because the characters and problems are different.

PPS: Click here to get your copy of How to Grow a Great Funeral Home Business – the 10-Step Checklist


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