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Part 2: What We Learned During the 2018 NFDA Convention Workshops

by | Oct 23, 2018 | Funeral Profession

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Weren’t able to attend this year’s NFDA Convention in Salt Lake City? Or weren’t able to attend all the workshops? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these highlights from a few of our favorite workshops we attended.

This is part two of a four-part series about some of the educational and inspiring 2018 NFDA Convention workshops. Click here to check out part one of the series.

Did You Know You Are a Storyteller?

Funeral directors wear many hats; they’re event planners, grief counselors, and even storytellers. In this workshop presented by Greg Marshall, he discussed the power of storytelling in honoring a life. Funeral directors find and connect meaningful elements to tell a life story — whether it’s through words, images, mementos, dance, the five senses, and other objects and forms of expression.

During his workshop, he said the best way to become a better storyteller is to ask better questions. You can practice asking the questions ahead of time if needed. Your questions should help you find themes in someone’s life such as if they were very family-oriented and passionate for a certain cause such as animals rights.

Mementos also can help families think of memories and stories. They may make them more comfortable and give them something to go off of when you ask questions. You also can try some word exercises, such as having them circle words that remind them of their loved one or creating their own list. Another option is to consider hiring a professional storyteller to help capture a life story.

Going Home: The Resurgence of Home Funerals

This workshop presented by Caitlin Doughty talked about how fewer families are interested in traditional funeral services. According to a recent NFDA survey, fewer than one-third of Americans want a traditional full funeral service with embalming and burial.

More families also want to be involved in the funeral and do more of it themselves in their own home. They’re more aware of different choices now and know what they want when it comes to funerals. She described family involvement in funerals as three levels of fruit:

  • Full banana: At-home funeral where the family prepares the body.
  • Half grapefruit: Delayed removal where the family keeps the body at home for a while before calling the funeral home — maybe for a few hours or overnight depending on the time of death.
  • The cherry on top: Family comes to the funeral home to help prepare the body, such as dressing the body, doing their hair, or putting on their makeup.

Family involvement in the funeral and preparation of the body helps them grieve and understand death. She said all it takes is to say “yes” when families ask if they can be involved.

Every Life Deserves a Tribute

In this workshop presented by Matt Baskerville, he shared the importance of having funerals — even for tragic deaths from overdose, suicide, or other circumstances. The impact of a tragic death goes far beyond the immediate family.

The funeral provides mourners the opportunity to honor their loved one and start their grief journey. Mourners may feel a variety of complex feelings and emotions with a tragic death, such as shock, anger, guilt, and helplessness. Funeral directors can be there for mourners and help them cope with their grief.

Funeral directors also can provide families with educational grief resources. You can have grief counselors available during the funeral service or provide families with their contact information. Your funeral home also can host events and invite grief experts to speak to your community. It’s a great way to educate your families and become a thought leader in your community.

Inconvenient Truths About Funeral Marketing

One of the expo hall campfire exchange sessions presented by Dan Katz went over some funeral home marketing tips. He shared how funeral advertising can be difficult because people don’t like the reminder that they’re going to die. But you can still find ways to be successful when it comes to marketing your funeral home.

When creating your ads, look at them through your families’ eyes. You should focus on the lives that you are honoring rather than being too salesy. Also, remember that results don’t happen overnight and will take time. You should track your results to see what’s successful. When it comes to marketing, you can’t just wing it. You need to create a marketing budget and strategy to get the best results.

To learn more about marketing and funeral home, download our free funeral home marketing eBook.

Did you attend any of the NFDA Convention workshops? What did you learn? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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