What’s Your Funeral Home Story

One of my favorite types of clients is what I call “the best kept secret”. That’s the funeral home owner who does a lot of things right, but not enough people know about their business. As a result, they’ve plateaued and are struggling to get to the next level.

I like working with these clients because they’re on the right track and just need a new marketing process. That’s what I bring to the relationship.

Referring back to my 10-step Checklist for Growing Your Funeral Home Business, they’ve completed step #1 and have created a superior funeral experience.

They’ve completed step #2 and created new products to offer. The products are the superior funeral experiences they created in step #1, turned into packages for families to buy. The packages might need some polish and fine-tuning, but the fundamentals are in place.

They’ve completed step #3 and established a unique market position. They may not communicate their position well to the general public, but the families they serve know how they are different from other funeral homes in town.

In most cases, how they tell their story prevents them from growing. They need to do a better job engaging people and giving them a clear reason to choose their funeral home regardless of price.

This week, we’ll discuss step #4 of my checklist – do a better job of telling your story.

The easiest way to understand the marketing process is to compare it to how a relationship develops between two people.

Have you ever asked someone what they did for a living, only to have them start rambling for the next ten or twenty minutes? When they finally pause, you still don’t know what they do for a living and wish you had never asked the question.

That person has done a lousy job of telling their story.

Funeral home owners often do a poor job of telling their stories. They fill their website with pictures of their ancestors and a description of how their great-grandfather was the local cabinet maker who started making caskets. 

If that’s you, read on. This article will change how you tell your story…for the better.

First, it’s important to understand that when you tell your story, your primary goal is to encourage the reader or listener to want to engage with your funeral home. 

It might be a family who needs your funeral services or a prospective employee considering a position at your funeral home. Either way, you want the person to hear your story and think, “This sounds like someone who can help me.”

You need to prepare two things: an opening and the story. The goal of the opening is to pique their interest and to get them to want to hear the story. If you launch right into your story without an opening, there’s a good chance you’ll lose them. 

A good opening connects to something your audience is already familiar with. The best openings connect to a problem that you solve.

For example, if I met a funeral home owner for the first time and they didn’t already know what I did, I might say something like the following.

“Many funeral home owners struggle to grow their business because of the decline in full-service funerals and rising cremation rates. I fix that problem by helping owners create and market new funeral experiences that today’s families value and generate more bottom-line profit for the business.”

At that point, I would pause and wait for them to say something like “How do you do that?” or “Tell me more” before telling them the full story.

Let’s say you’re a funeral home owner who offers a contemporary style of service that families love. You’re at a social gathering, and someone asks you what you do for a living. You might say the following.

“Have you ever been to a funeral and thought you would prefer a different type of service? I help families create a beautiful memorial event their family and friends will cherish.”

At this point, they know what problem you solve but don’t know how. That creates curiosity and causes them to be interested in hearing your story.

When it’s time to tell your story, here’s the key. Your story is not about your history or years of dedicated service to the community. Instead, your story is about the families you’ve served and how you have been able to help them navigate the loss of a loved one.

When telling your story, it’s vital never to position yourself as the story’s hero. The family you are serving is the hero, and you are the guide.

Most epic stories and popular movies have a hero and a guide. The story starts with a hero who has a problem. Early in the story, the hero meets a guide who helps them solve the problem, and eventually, the hero wins the reward (prize, girl, kingdom, etc.)

If you’ve seen the movie Star Wars, you should never be Luke Skywalker because he’s the hero. Instead, you should be Obe-Wan Kenobi, who helps a timid Luke become a powerful Jedi.

Similarly, you should never be Harry Potter; you should be Dumbledore.

The secret to doing a better job of telling your story is never to play the hero. Instead, play the guide, and families will be drawn to your story.

An excellent resource on this process is the book “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller. I’ve gone through extensive training on the process outlined in this book and use it with all my clients.

Working together, we create a compelling opening that makes the audience want to hear more. Then, we tell a great story that describes how we’ve helped families navigate the loss of a loved one by creating beautiful and meaningful memorial events.

If your story needs an overhaul, contact me. I fix that problem.

Next week, I’ll discuss step #5 – upgrading your web presence. Hint: we’ll use the story we created in this week’s step.

Until next time.



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