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Despite limited competition, funeral homes will need to grow their market. That’s where pre-selling the service comes in. Stock image
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Surviving in a dying market

America’s death rate is currently at its highest level in 50 years.

Having lost both my parents within the past 15 months, I’ve seen how confusing the funeral process can be. Burial, cremation, services, headstones … the seemingly endless list of decisions is overwhelming.

Geography typically decides which funeral home someone works with, and most markets have a handful of options. With limited competition, these service providers rely on Mother Nature to deliver them a steady flow of business.

Only America’s population growth rate has dropped 78% since 1992.

So despite the limited competition, funeral homes will need to grow their market. That’s where pre-selling the service comes in.

You probably sell something else but stay with me a minute. With funerals costing $7,000-$10,000 on average, they should be marketed like other significant expenses. Consumers shouldn’t be doing research when focus is needed on grieving and honoring a life.

An aging population suggests pre-selling funerals is logical. This strategy ensures less stress for loved ones, while allowing the client (i.e., the soon-to-be-deceased) the kind of service they want.

So … how do you find legitimate sales prospects? A few thoughts:

• Direct outreach. reports the average age of death differs by race. Target your audience by race, messaging everyone over 75 (white), 74 (Asian/Pacific Islander), 67 (Black/Hispanic) or 63 (Native American), suggesting it’s time to start getting affairs in order and save others the trouble, angst and expense. A quality list broker can help you acquire a good mailing list.

• Alliances. Partnering with financial planners, trust/will lawyers and life insurance salespeople provides a direct pipeline to advance planners. Test a will/funeral package deal to secure the business before the competition does.

• Semantics. Financial planning is a fancy term for professionals who want to strategize and handle your money. Calling funeral home salespeople exit strategists or long-term corporeal care specialists might make them appear less negative.

Stress positive aspects of advance planning. Dress in more cheerful colors. And tread lightly if using gallows humor.

Every business, in every industry, should consider coming trends. Demographics, markets and opportunities shift daily, requiring an ability to think differently if you’re going to prosper over the long-term.

And remember: Merely doing things the same way they’ve always been done could lead to lost opportunities.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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