The cost of traditional advertising isn’t the only thing that’s on the rise. Distrust of traditional paid advertisements also is growing.
What’s a funeral home to do? Imagine this: spending less on advertising — fewer ads in the paper and fewer spots run on local TV — and yet, growing the amount of client families you serve.
It may sound too good to be true, but it can be done. That’s because of a growing trend in small business called thought leadership.
What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership could easily be called your most valuable asset, but with so many definitions being tossed around, it’s an often-misunderstood subject.
Thought leadership isn’t some fancy MBA buzzword jargon and it isn’t just about coming up with new ideas. Thought leadership is about establishing influential and authoritative views that build trust between your funeral home and client families.
Of all the definitions running around the internet, CEO and author Michael Brenner defines it best: “It’s not pedigree. It’s not where you went to school. Thought Leadership means you provide the best and deepest answers, to your customers’ biggest questions.”
Swap the word customers for families, and that’s what thought leadership is for funeral directors and funeral home owners. It’s about answering your client families’ questions and concerns and educating them.
There are several ways in which your funeral home can become a thought leader. You could be the leader in memorialization, the leader of personalized services, a cremation thought leader, or even a thought leader in aftercare and bereavement. But remember, being a thought leader isn’t just about simply offering these services — it’s about being an expert in them.
How can I establish thought leadership?
There are several ways to build thought leadership, but only a few that make sense for your funeral home. Here are some of the most effective:
- Contribute to guest blogs. Writing serves two purposes: It allows you to establish your expertise in a topic and helps you reach a large amount of families. You can contribute to industry blogs, trade magazines, or even submit an article to the local paper. A recent HubSpot article states that “being recognized by already-established thought leaders as a credible source and contributor will further legitimize your industry expertise.” (Want to contribute a blog post for us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch).
- Speak at events and conferences. Take your expertise out into the community. Public speaking events allow for a greater level of audience participation than writing, which means you can directly answer client families’ questions and concerns and build their trust in your expertise. Offer to speak at a local hospice or church, host a workshop or Q&A at the community college, or even put on your own dinner and invite families to learn more about a topic in your area of expertise.
- Engage on social media. Social media is another way to build thought leadership, and compared to the above two, it’s probably the easiest and quickest. Social media allows you to connect with families in your area, or their relatives who might end up making arrangements later on. Social media is so effective because it was designed to be social. Unlike traditional advertising, it allows for an immediate conversation and questions and concerns families have can be answered in real time. Click here to see how social media can build an online community between you and your families.
How does being a thought leader benefit my funeral home?
Let’s dig deeper into the benefits. We mentioned how establishing thought leadership can lower traditional advertising costs while still bringing client families to your funeral home, but there’s more to it.
It allows your funeral home to:
- Stand apart from other funeral homes. Imagine you’re shopping for a car. Would you buy a car from just any neighborhood dealer, or from the certified dealer that specializes in the exact make you’re interested in? People buy from people they trust, and thought leadership allows you to build and maintain that trust with your families.
- Start a conversation. Families aren’t funeral experts, and many families are planning a funeral for the first time. You can position your funeral home to start a conversation about services, options, and ideas that families might not be aware of.
- Offer improved services through development and innovation. Thought leadership can take time to establish, and being an expert means being ahead of the curve. Thought leadership also requires getting feedback and input from families. But despite all the work, it all leads to an overall improved and innovative line of products and services — and more value for the families you serve.