Why online? Simply stated, the future is online. We all know the Internet can be overwhelming for first-time users. It is typical to think, “How do I find what I want? This is too much!” Butit is not as difficult as you might think.
Funeral directors know the traditional venues for referrals including affiliate advertisement, newspaper ads, yellow page marketing and word-of-mouth. Nevertheless, funeral directors also know the market is changing. There was a time when three generations of the same family would choose the same funeral director and services. Now, familiesdo not even live in the same town and many do not even live in the same country. People often communicate with family and friends online. How is this done in a way that is easier to handle than a string of impersonal group emails? The answer is social-networking websites like Myspace and Facebook.
Social Networking vs. Regular Website
You may be thinking, “I already have a website.” However, while they may appear similar, a personal website and a social networking site are not the same thing. Your website is like your home, it is a one-stop destination created by you and focused on you. A social networking site is different. Here we are talking about a community where visitors who care about a particular issue share stories and connect. A social networking site is like a virtual town square.
Does it not make more sense to promote yourself in the town square, than it does to try to invite everyone in the entire town over to your place for coffee?
Yourwebsite is probably great and its purpose is to provide visitors with an extended menu of your services, but you need to remember that many social networking sites have larger audiences than newspapers or televisionshows.
There are over 200 million MySpace members with the average member age being 35-years-old. In 2007, 12 percent of all time spent on the Internet in the United States was spent on MySpace (approximately 53,000 years). The numbers do notlie – you need to be where the people are.
Where You Come In
Let online communities know what you have to offer. Do not expect clients to come to you. Take the step in getting to them and they will pay attention. For example, take Lies Kroes in Holland. After her death, family members created an online tribute and listed the website address in theobituary and funeral invitations. Family members and friends in the Netherlands and the UnitedStatesleft condolences, shared memories and connected over huge distances. To date, the group has posted 21 memories, 116 photographs, and six videos – and they keep returning to make updates. How much time do you think it would take for you to add over 100 photos, six videos and 21 separate blocks of text to your website? In many cases, that is more than a standard site would even allow for.
As a funeral service provider, you can sponsor tributes like Lies’, establish goodwill with hundreds of friends and family members, and the only info you have to provide to produce these living memorials is your logo and contact info. It is really simple, and the best part is that years after someone has passed away, you remain the host of a 24-hour memorial where family members can celebrate someone they love.
Tips on Getting Started
- Look for social-networking sites that are appropriate. Communities connected to obituaries, grief support, funeral services, and memories/tributes are the most suitable.
- Do not be a wall flower; get involved in the community. Write a weekly post, run a contest, ask a daily question, provide links to your favorite articles and comics or simply email people you find interesting. Connections are key to growing your referrals.
- Drill down. If you specialize in military memorials, join a military memorial group. If you only operate in Columbus, then only speak to people from Ohio. Your time is valuable, be smart with who you engage.
- Offer online memorials as an added service to obituary listings. If you are placing an obituary, consider also offering a tribute page using the same info. This is a great way to engage family members.
- Make your clients your advocates. Encourage them to provide the link to your tribute pages on their funeral invitations and obituaries. This is a nice way for those who can not attend the funeral to leave their condolences, pictures and videos. When they visit the site, they will also be able to see that it was you who provided this great service in the first place.
To help our funeral homes and chapels that we are working with, we have created very nicely designed, quality handouts.
If you would like to order some for your funeral home, to help grieving families on their way to create a lasting memorial, please contact Mansha Thapa at mansha@respectance, phone number : 415-398-2595
Also to sign up and get access to all the tools and be found on the internet with the specialized services your funeral home provides, go to http://www.respectance.com/join/business