The good news is that the average life expectancy is reportedly much longer than the generations that came and went before us. The bad news is that this life extension is putting a serious kink into what was once a global, thriving cottage industry. Yes, because we’re living longer, we’re deeply impacting the coffers of the funeral market.
This is why the funeral industry really needs to think about how to maximize its current client roster to make up for the financial deficit they’ve been forced to endure in the name of science, technology, and health.
While funeral directors aren’t typically known as
savvy marketers, there are many tactics they could employ to boost business. By leveraging the skills of the oldest profession — marketing — funeral homes, their affiliates and their customers’ families can stand to make a bundle.
And by the way, marketing is the oldest profession. You may recall from your freshman marketing class that the four Ps of marketing are: product, price, promotion, and place. What they failed to include in those texts is that these four Ps were the foundation that led to the fifth P, hence, the oldest profession.
Regardless of the customer’s belief in a possible afterlife, the sheer profits surrounding the burial ritual is one that has been seriously overlooked. So, marketers, funeral directors and families, let’s put the fun back in funeral and make a little money while we’re at it.
Let’s consider the traditional funeral service, like the ones we see in the movies. Typically, you’ll have the funeral parlor activities followed by the church memorial that leads to a hurricane wind graveyard scene which finally brings on the after event party. Here you’ve got myriad marketing and sponsorship opportunities.
First of all, there’s far too much blank space at the funeral parlor that could be sold to local and corporate sponsors.
As the customer’s guests arrive at the funeral home, the sign-in registry could be brought to you by Hal’s Stationery. Meanwhile, the customer’s formal wear, hair and makeup oftentimes go completely unnoticed, leaving out the hard work of the
tailor and beautician. With business cards tastefully displayed by the coffin, you can eliminate those difficult questions such as, “Is that tux a rental?” “Who did her hair?” and “What about her makeup? To die for!”
Alongside the funeral home wall you could hang public service banners such as, “This event brought to you by the Big Bad Tobacco Company,” or perhaps straightforward advertising such as, “We Urn Our Reputation… this space paid for by Uncle Saul’s House of Urns.”
When it comes to the funeral, we certainly shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to sponsor the eulogy.
“As we remember great Aunt Agnes, let’s bow our heads for a moment of silence in support of Ray’s Cadillac, who provided us with today’s automotive transport. Ray’s Cadillac, one ride is all it takes.”
And who says you have to choose traditional funeral music when you can sell the one-time usage rights to Procol Harem’s “Turn a Whiter Shade of Pale,” or his purple majesty’s “When Doves Cry.”
Moreover, if you’ve done the graveyard research like I have, you’ll notice that there is far too much unused advertising and sponsorship space on the blank, back side of the headstone.
If we can rename once-sacred arenas to be known today as 3Com Park, The Fleet Center, or Gillette Stadium, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with exploiting the tomb to help cover the high cost of dying.
It goes without saying that the after-party is an obvious plethora of direct marketing opportunities for local caterers and wine merchants.
Clearly, there’s an unearthed market in death, as these are just a few examples of the limitless opportunities it presents.
For those ready to try their hand using these recommendations, your assignment is to develop a marketing plan for sitting shivah.
With seven days and nights, the challenge is to deliver a campaign that would rival a thirty-second Superbowl spot. Your reward? A chance to be the next Funeral Apprentice, a yet unsponsored reality show.