Building your brand for Lifetime Value

I love business and the challenge of building a business.  To me it is very much like a jig-saw puzzle. . . . you have to work with the pieces you have and continue to move them around until they, like a jig-saw puzzle, fit together and make everything work.

I served on the Board and eventually served as Board Chairman for a non-profit Senior Living and Health care organization in my hometown called Knute Nelson.  The organization started as a gift of a farm house to be used to house “aged men” by Senator Knute Nelson in the 1940’s.  Today, the organization serves over 8,000 individuals annually, has a payroll of over $35 million, and consists of almost all kinds of Senior Living options you can think of including skilled nursing home care.  Skilled nursing home care is expensive and when the Affordable Care Act came into being around 2010, the Board realized that “Low-cost” care would be preferred by the Affordable Care Act and we needed to branch into that care also.

With that in mind, the organization looked at its strengths and decided to move into Home Health Care and Hospice Care.  That business has been very successful and has grown by leaps and bounds.  Even to the point that we have partnered with two other Senior Living organizations to form a partnership business called Ethos Health to serve areas of Minnesota and North Dakota that we believe were underserved with home care and hospice.  Ethos has became very successful in its own right since its start in 2014.

That’s a long lead in, but I’ve served on the Ethos Board since its inception and for the past four years have served as Chairman.  It’s not a difficult job because Senior Management in the company is excellent and keeps us informed.  I love the Board meetings because I learn so much. . . . from a new generation of business experts.  Recently, I heard how our marketers deal with the Senior (citizen) market and was really fascinated.  I think it is a good lesson for this forum also. . . . since funeral homes and cemeteries also market to the Senior ages.

In a nutshell, I was fascinated how the Ethos marketing team has moved “Branding” from what used to be aimed at getting a consumer to use our services to now. . . getting a consumer to become a “Brand Ambassador” for our services.  Again, we used to concentrate on getting customers. . .now we concentrate on building Ambassadors.  Here’s how the cycle to “Brand Ambassador” might look at your funeral home.

  1. Attract consumer attention through Marketing (Advertising)
  2. Nurture potential clientele (PreNeed Seminars)
  3. Convert potential clients to clients (Place a PreNeed)
  4. Use of Service (funeral/cremation, etc)
  5. Make survivors “Loyalists” (Service makes surviving family members planning to use business again)
  6. Advocates (Grief seminars, post-service relationship building so survivors talk of your firm’s positives)
  7. Brand Ambassadors (Continue relationship so that they “actively” tell people to use your services)

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

Again, to make a long story short, I was fascinated by the intentionality of not only getting consumer clients to use our services, but turning them into people who tell others to use our services.  That has happened to all of us in the funeral business at some point simply by giving great service.  But, by using “intentionality” in the process you can reach much greater levels of this.  And, having Brand Ambassadors in the community can do nothing but good for your business.  As a matter of fact, having the right Brand Ambassadors in your community can set you up with additional cases for years to come.

Finally, our marketing people mentioned that we are in an “Adaptive Age” for older adults in how they choose their providers of services.  They mentioned this equation:

Self-Directed Seniors  x  More Competition  x  Technology Influences  == Competitive Agility (is a must)

In other words, the Senior marketplace is no longer complacent.  There are factors influencing consumer choice all the time and if you don’t recognize that you will be wondering why families you served at one time are now being served by another funeral home.

So, for the long-term health of your funeral home, I would suggest replacing that thinking of getting clients (or death calls) to an intentional thinking of building “Brand Ambassadors”.

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Upcoming Webinars – both with CEU’s available:

From NFDAVirtual Roundtable:  Recruitment and Retention Strategies for Funeral Homes.  Scheduled for March 31.  More information Here.

NFDA says – “More and more employees are quitting their jobs in favor of jobs that come with better compensation and benefits, work/life balance and more meaningful work. It is obvious that the Pandemic brought many changes to the labor market, and so many funeral homes are in the midst of a major labor crisis. More than 4.3 million workers quit their job in August 2021 alone – an historical number – according to the Department of Labor. Leaders within the industry are left wondering what the reasons are behind the Great Resignation. How do we curtail it? The answers are more than complex and require a deep dive into the organization and commitment by leadership to address the challenges.”

From Funeral Directors LifeMaking Aftercare more than an Afterthought.  Scheduled for March 29.  More information Here.

Funeral Directors Life says – In this hour-long webinar hosted by Funeral Directors Life’s VP of Sales Operations Drew Seale, attendees can:
– Discover why aftercare is necessary for families
– View statistics about aftercare and communication trends
-Hear common mistakes families make in the days after a service (and how you can help!)
– Learn what makes up a great aftercare program

More news from the world of Death Care:

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