Robin HeppellThe marketing thought leaders of today – Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott – both preach that to connect to today’s consumer, we have to turn away from “interruption marketing” and focus on the building of relationships. Relationship marketing is nothing new to funeral directors and cemeterians. We have woven ourselves into the fabric of our communities for generations. Whether it was through our churches, service clubs, or sports teams, we were shoulder to shoulder with other members of our community – building those relationships.

Today the problem is that we don’t always have time to belong to all of these activities and even if we do make time, others in the community are just as busy and may not be there for us to build those relationships with. We do have some resources available to help us build relationships via the Internet. Although the Internet is not meant to replace our physical presence in our communities, it does allow us to connect with those who are online themselves – just like you!

This is actually what Tom and Jake are doing with their new website and newsletter. Although you will still see them at conventions and conferences, they have created – as Bill Bischoff named it – their virtual marketing platform. With the goal of creating this platform to provide the most relevant and current information to funeral and cemetery professionals, we harnessed the power of the WordPress weblog functionality and applied the best practices of online marketing and public relations.

Key features of this site above the usual website components:

  • Audio clips welcoming visitors to specific sections of the site – the goal is to make visitors comfortable with members of the team, hence building relationships
  • Testimonials are displayed throughout the site, some randomly in the right sidebar and others relating to specific service offerings
  • Media Room lists all press releases with the most recent listed first – this page is dynamically created and new releases are uploaded with the same ease as sending an email with an attachment – no more web developer fees to add new information

To further build those relationships, they have developed a complimentary newsletter – what you are reading right now – that will go out to members of the death care community. It takes the latest articles posted to the website and turns them into the newsletter. This strategy recognizes that some people will prefer to go to the website on a regular basis for new information; others will prefer to get that information in their email inbox; and for the super techies – they can subscribe via RSS. Just like traditional marketing, a multi-pronged approach is a must to reach potential customers in the manner that they wish to receive the message – this is what Seth Godin calls Permission Marketing.

As outlined in his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott states that these tools can be applied to any business who wants to methodically build relationships with their community. These tools and strategies can even be applied to funeral homes and cemeteries who want to who want to take their online presence from just a website to a virtual marketing platform. If you would like more information on how to apply these strategies to your own online presence, please visit my WordPress powered website at: or feel free to contact me at 800-810-3595 or 250-744-3595.

Robin Heppell, CFSP

Return to the May 2008 Newsletter