Advertising Mix and Your Budget – Part 2

Yesterday we began a discussion about your advertising mix and your budget.  It’s my belief that there are several components in your advertising options that are needed to to get into the minds of consumers who are all your potential customers.  I’m also of the opinion that there is a time when a client family thinks of a funeral home — putting a relative into the nursing home, a neighbor or relative’s death, a sudden family death, or even a national story about a death of a celebrity could be these times– and you want to be the funeral home that they think of at that time.

You also need to understand that the situations mentioned in the paragraph above can be happening to different people on different days which means that your firm has to try to be top of the mind at all times.  For instance I purchase a personal car, for myself or my wife about every two years on average.  I usually get to the point where I say, “Time to look for a different car” and I start looking at ads in the local newspaper and on-line.  So, the auto dealers don’t know when I’m doing this – so for this customer they have to be advertising at all times or they will miss me.  The same is true for funeral homes — you need a repetitive, budget conscious system to stay at the “Top of Mind Awareness” or TOMA of the consumer.

I learned of TOMA advertising over 20 years ago and our firm has used it successfully to promote our image and drive our message to the local consumers in a repetitive, budget conscious way ever since.  TOMA should be simple and image related.  The key with TOMA is to be at the top of the mind of the consumer when they think of funeral home — i.e. if a consumer is prompted to name a funeral home,  your TOMA advertising is effective if your funeral home is their answer.

TOMA advertising should be concise and the repetition should focus on only three or four images that you want the consumer to recognize in your brand.  For us that was:  1)  Family owned, 2) History of Service,  3) Community oriented, and 4) Set apart from others by having an aftercare program and our own crematory.

Again, we are in a market area of about 30,000 people and we drive our image via TOMA in the following ways:

Newspaper:  Our local newspaper comes out twice weekly and instead of putting periodic 1/4 or 1/2 page ads in it we continuously ran three or four small “business card” ads on different pages at all times with just our logo and a saying such as “Douglas County’s Only Crematory” or “Family owned since 1872”.  These small business card size ads were budget friendly and by having three or four of them in each edition we could put them in the sports section and business section as well as in the family section where funeral home ads are traditionally found by the obituaries.  Remember, sports fans and business people at times are your consumers too.

Radio:  Our community has two broadcast companies that operate five different stations.  We run repetitive image oriented ads in a very limited schedule, but daily, on the oldies station and the general news station.  The same familiar voice has been the voice of the funeral home for over 35 years.

Billboards:  We have one billboard on a highly traveled road in the community.  It is image oriented with a small slogan and our logo prominently displayed. . . no staff photos, no long ad copy . . . just a simple statement and a strong, bold logo.

There you have it. . .”Top of Mind Awareness” advertising.  My guess is you can find a way to fit it into your budget to build awareness of your business.  However, you have to stay with it and trust it in small doses over a long period of time — it won’t change the market share overnight.

Our local newspaper – about 5 years ago – did a survey that they shared with advertisers.  They called consumers in the community and just asked them to name the first bank, the first grocery store, the first funeral home, etc. that came to mind.  I was pleased to find out that our funeral home had the highest ranking of Top of Mind Awareness in the community at 91% of mind share. . . I concluded it was nothing special we did — it was just a consistent message over a long period of time.

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