On Wednesday 18th May I joined colleagues at the fabulous Emirates Riverside, home of Durham Cricket Club for the SAIF NE regional meeting and amongst other items discussed How to Help with Direct Cremation Funerals.
As usual there were some fascinating conversations around topical issues concerning SAIF members. A beautiful meal was enjoyed in the wonderful company of SAIF National President Jo Parker, Chief Executive Terry Tennens and other esteemed colleagues.
On the agenda were the new Code of Practice, direct cremations and SAIF Digital. Jo Parker gave a talk focusing on her charity of the year, Papyrus, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide. I would urge all to support Jo in her efforts to raise funds for this worthwhile cause.
I had prepared a presentation to explain to members the value of funeral directors taking control of their website and creating content that answers the many potential questions of visitors and online searches. As the meeting progressed it became clear that this was indeed the approach needed to help members be proactive in addressing many of their current challenges.
The problem often faced is plenty of website visitors but not enough enquiries
To address this we need to think beyond the same old website content, or PayPer Click or SEO or Social Media. Instead, start thinking like Google and answer questions on your website, all of the questions that you might be asked.
SAIF NE Regional Meeting - How to Help with Direct Cremation Funerals
The question of direct cremation and the changing market place was discussed at length, in this article I'll take a look at how a small, local funeral director can compete against national TV campaigns.
Do this and your website will not only gain more visitors, more visibility in Google searches but also result in more enquiries.
Take Control of Your Website
I recommended that members take control of their website to publish helpful articles. The book shown below 'They Ask, You Answer' by Marcus Sheridan' was discussed as an excellent resource.
In this article I'll discuss another book, Simon Dolan's How to Make Millions Without a Degree. Don't be put off by the title, the book devotes a chapter to our topic in an incredibly simple and helpful manner, chapter 10: How to Market Your Business for Free.
Snippets from Simon Dolan - explaining how he built a £65 million accountancy business.
‘Write stuff and make web pages. That’s what we do…We’ve built up a bank of 3000 web pages which attract a million visitors each year, and a very satisfying percentage of those become customers. We don’t know anything about SEO. We don’t have a clue how Google works. We just know how to make it work for us.'
Here's a list of observations quoted from Simon Dolan's book:
- The (customer) researching phase is important and you can’t short circuit it.
- What matters to consumers is the feeling of power, of being in control
- The internet has been with us for years now - but the truth is very few companies know how to use it properly for marketing.
- No matter how flashy a company’s website is, it is usually just a clever and expensive ad…it answers certain questions which the company thinks are important.
- Who we are
- How long we’ve been around
- What we do
- What’s great about us
- How much we charge
- How to buy
So, what’s with that? What’s wrong is that these are not the questions that 98% of people are asking at any one time.
- Ads (and typical website content) address the 2% of people who are ready to buy. For the rest they are just noise.
- You have to understand your customers and start giving them what they want, which is information. What do they want to know? I don’t know, they’re your customers! Talk to them. Pay attention to what they say. Make a list of the questions they’re asking. Use the words they use.
- Then write simple articles that answer those questions and publish them as separate pages on your website.
- .. we think like our customers, to really understand their stresses and pains, and write interesting, helpful and friendly articles to help them. Google picks up on this passion.
- ..new customers comment that while they were researching we were the only firm out there talking to them. They couldn’t actually get away from us. That is a problem I think I can live with.
There it is, the big secret weapon.
Apply two standards to make this work for you:
- Write good articles
- Make them search engine friendly (easy)
Following the concerns discussed at the recent North East SAIF regional meeting I have compiled a list of possible article headings on the topic of direct cremation. As a funeral director you will be able to come up with many more.
- what is direct cremation?
- what does direct cremation mean?
- what is involved in direct cremation?
- what is a simple direct cremation?
- what is an attended direct cremation?
- what is an unattended direct cremation?
- do you get a chance to say goodbye at a direct cremation?
- are there any flowers at a direct cremation?
- what happens to the deceased at a direct cremation?
- where does a direct cremation take place?
- does a direct cremation take place locally?
- is the deceased treat with respect at a direct cremation?
- does the deceased get placed in a van with others at a direct cremation?
- is the deceased transported hundreds of miles in a direct cremation?
- does a family get closure with a direct cremation?
- is bereavement grief worse following a direct cremation?
- bereavement counselling following direct cremation?
- what effect does direct cremation have on the mental health of the bereaved?
- does it take longer to recover from bereavement following a direct cremation?
- what are the differences between an attended and an unattended direct cremation?
- does my local funeral director offer direct cremation?
- how much does direct cremation cost?
- should I use a direct cremation company who advertises on tv?
- who are pure cremation?
- how long have pure cremation been in business?
- who are simplicity cremations?
- did families suffer from more bereavement pain during covid?
- what effect did covid have on mental health?
To be search engine friendly each article should be approximately 300 words. You should think creatively about your titles i.e. ‘direct cremation options’ ‘a guide to direct cremations’. As shown in the list of possible titles above you can also name your competitors in the title as long as you do not slander them. You should come across as reputable and trustworthy if you discuss competitors without being critical of them.
Simon Dolan again:
‘Write good, interesting copy, label your page title appropriately and honestly making sure it matches the content.’
‘Be warned. Writing simple, useful and effective articles can be time consuming.’
Write in plain English:
- ‘Write like you talk’
- ‘Just answer the question’
- ‘Talk to your customers’
- ‘Organise your answer and stay focussed’
- ‘Use short sentences’
- ‘Get somebody else to proof read it’
- ‘Be helpful’
Any one of the questions above could be used in searches relating to direct cremation. Make sure the page URL contains the title (this happens automatically with WordPress)
In conclusion, yes content marketing approach will be time consuming and require some effort. Judging from the discussions at the recent SAIF Regional Meeting it's clear that the topic of direct cremation is of some concern to SAIF members. The time and effort involved in creating powerful marketing to address the challenge is surely worthwhile.
As a result of conversations at the SAIF NE meeting, SAIF member Ashbrooke Funeral Directors have addressed the question of direct cremation on their website. Take a look here to see their approach.