The Good Funeral Guide Blog

No place like home

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Home

 

Now that most funeral directors have a website it’s a good time to review the way they receive visitors on their home page. It’s a darn difficult one to get right and no mistaking. After all, no one wants to buy a funeral. So how do you allay fears, define and differentiate yourself,  inspire warmth and trust? How do you address needs and wishes when you’ve only got a five seconds to hook them?

Here are some draft tips for FDs. I hope you will hone them with your customary no-holds-barred comments – and add some of your own.

Go easy on the ancestors

It’s cool to show your roots but they don’t actually make you any better than lots of first-generation businesses. Make genealogy relevant — and for goodness’ sake make sense. Avoid:

As a 5th generation independent family run concern, our success depends on your satisfaction.

Don’t make a bad thing worse

The last thing they want to hear is this: 

When you suffer bereavement, a funeral for a member of your family is the most difficult day of your life.

Park the cars

Funeral shoppers are looking for nice people, not people with nice cars. To most of them, all hearses look the same. 

Hide your status anxiety

Leading a funeral procession is a role you play. The first person they want to see in a photo is the real you.  Lighten up on the black and the fancy clobber — you don’t need to big yourself up. 

We like this photo   

But we concede that these two look terrific              

Cut the flowery twaddle

Don’t alienate yourself by talking like a bygone age. Write as people speak now.

As professional and compassionate funeral directors, we are conscious of the responsibility, trust and confidence bestowed upon us.

On initial contact we will ask for preliminary details, whereupon if the deceased has died at home, in hospital or in a private nursing home we will advise the conveyance of the deceased to our private chapel.

We incorporate the profound values of honesty, trust and professionalism, offering an exclusive service for families and their loved ones.

Kill your jargon

Hygienic treatment and attendances to the deceased are considered to be very important by our company.

Do away with ‘disbursements’ and ‘floral tributes’. While you’re about it, try and avoid ‘caring’ and ‘dignified’, too, if you can. They’re a bit worn.

Talk to your reader, not about yourself

It is a rare privilege to be a funeral director, to stand in a sensitive position at a crucial time in the midst of your family

Proud to be an independant?

Then get your text professionally proofread.

If you can’t get the spelling, grammar and punctuation right on your own website, what does that say about your ability to arrange a funeral?

No one can be cremated untill the caurse of death is definitely known. There are two cremation certificates (forms B&C). Each must be signed by two different doctor’s.

PS it’s –dent.

Normal people know nothing about industry politics

If you want to diss the big beasts, make an intelligible case.

Continuity and a personal caring service are things that tend to be overlooked within larger conglomerates.

Talk price, talk up value

There’s no point in being a funeral director if you cannot define the value of a funeral. What good’s it going to do them?

Put their best interests first

Show your readers you’re on their side. Advise them to shop around, get at least three quotes and go with the FD they click with best. Invite them to ring you for a no-strings chat if they want. Make yourself likeable. 

All examples above from real websites.

And the GFG award (provisional) for the website which fires off most key messages quickest in the most palatable form is awarded to our sternest critic, Kingfisher Funeral Services of St Neot’s

 

Andy2

 

22 comments on “No place like home

  1. Richard

    Saturday 27th April 2013 at 5:53 pm

    As a bit of digital media research, I’d be interested to hear from companies about whether they’ve designed their websites for static home use or mobile connectivity by phone and tablet. I’d also like to know how many complement the website with social media, and if so how in the context of funerals.

    As far as content goes, I imaghine people like to give referrals and read referrals by others. If a dinner guest is me-me-me, he fails to engage with those around the table and is not invited back. Niche title Horse & Hound has more fans on its Facebook page than the Daily Mail has on its page. The Mail tends to be old school ‘me-to-you’ whereas H&H offers a conversation among horse-lovers.

  2. Saturday 20th April 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Can anyone answer this question please?

    Almost every funeral director’s website has a section called “what to do when someone dies”. Do people really turn to the internet at this stage? Are they really looking for that information on a funeral director’s website?

    If anyone has any statistics for how often their “what to do” page is viewed, I’d be very interested.

    Thanks

  3. Monday 15th April 2013 at 12:32 pm

    At the present moment I think about half of our clients have said that they have come to us through the website in one way or another; either because they found us through it or because they looked at it and liked it once they were in contact with us. We have even had enquiries from totally different parts of the country asking for advice about something they had seen on our website because their local FD didn’t know what they were talking about.
    Its definitely the way forward (one of them at least…your website can be brilliant but if the service doesn’t back it up its just so much wasted money!)
    Jenny

  4. Monday 15th April 2013 at 10:59 am

    Websites are always a work in progress, but with increasing numbers of people starting their search online – it is more important than ever for funeral directors to entice their customers in with a website that embraces all the points that Charles so eloquently makes.

    Another excellent comment “There’s no point in being a funeral director if you cannot define the value of a funeral. What good’s it going to do them?” – this is something that I have noticed. Many funeral directors are ‘closed’ when it comes to offering something that will nourish the souls of their families and will enhance the funeral/memorial experience, not just on the day itself but for years afterwards. As Andrew says, many funeral directors view the internet as evil and ultimately that attitude will be their undoing. Evil? What utter rot – the WWW is not just a means to bring the world to your desk or your desk to the world, but also a way to be enveloped in comfort and warmth in your own front room by those who care – that can be family, friends or even, wait for it, funeral directors. A website is more than a shop window, it’s a broad deep chest to absorb emotion, it’s a pair of strong arms to give strength, it’s a hand to hold for guidance over rocky terrain – it’s the heartbeat of the caring team behind it.
    Oh, I’ve come over all emotional, must be time for a lie down….

  5. Sunday 14th April 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Confession! Discreet – spelt incorrectly on my site 🙁

    I will get on to the webmaster..

  6. Friday 12th April 2013 at 9:27 pm

    What I think the Kingfisher site does is start from families’ real concerns, not from whatever the company itself rates highly. So ‘we take it at your pace’ is inspired. Some of the other clips read as if the writer wants to show that s/he is really grown up & can use ‘official’ language; whereas what the reader wants is not to be intimidated.

  7. andrew plume

    Friday 12th April 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Hello Charles

    good stuff this

    Searson Family……..ooooo what a great site, maybe more than one needs but absolutely terrific stuff

    Aubrey Kirkham, a small firm doing pretty well but their site isn’t great and needs some updating and tinkering etc etc

    best

    andrew

  8. Friday 12th April 2013 at 1:46 pm

    It’s very true, Tony. Keeping a website up-to-date is practically a full-time job. That’s perhaps a reason (or excuse) why busy funeral directors shy away from them?

  9. TonyB

    Friday 12th April 2013 at 9:23 am

    From your Aubrey Kirkham link above “We are pleased to announce that Dr Bill Webster will be running two workshops in Shropshire during the summer of 2012. More information will appear on this website soon.”. Time to get the duster out!

  10. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Well done Kingfisher.

    We all make mistakes, but independant is one of my pet hates – how can they do it? It even appears on shop-fronts!

    My own is better than it was but is still a work in progress. No cars Charles, and I agree, FD’s do seem very proud of them.

    Price matters – value more but they’ll never know you are amazing value unless they can afford your price.

    History – I dropped mine. (Not easy)

    Picture of the team – I should get some, but two of us hate the way we look! I did put a lovely relaxed picture I took of two of my sons on our old website (still available on google images Holmes funeral) It wasn’t taken for that purpose but I thought it reflected who we are, but several clients told me they disapproved- because the boys looked too casual and happy (in black suits, smart ties.) Two families even told me they almost didn’t use us, as they thought the boys would be too happy and casual on the day of the funeral! As ever, think before you do anything..

  11. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I love the Kingfisher Funerals website and how it reaches out to the public in a very caring and compassionate way. I also like the way the firm gives back to the community it serves by supporting local charities. Well done.

  12. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Neot was a Cornishman whose bones were stolen from St Neot and brought to St Neot’s Priory, after which the town of which you are an inhabitant was named. His bones disappeared when the priory was dissolved, which is perhaps forgiveable. But not the disappearance of his possessive apostrophe, which I am proud to have restored. I hope I shall serve as an example to others in this.

  13. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I am humbled, truly humbled.

    But I cannot possibly take all the credit. Whilst the wording is mine, the design of the website is the genius of David Adams at http://www.digitalomelette.co.uk (who I have told about the odd rogue apostrophe on his site, but I still think he’s a fantastic website designer). We have been working together on the website for about 3 months now, and it finally went live earlier this week. David’s brief was to create something fresh and colourful which immediately inspired people to want to find out more about us. We’ve already had very positive comments from clients, in particular on the estimate generator under the ‘costs’ tab, which I was desperate to incorporate but just didn’t have the technical ability to make it happen. We also had a client come in yesterday with her two black labradors, purely because she’d seen Roxie on the homepage and wanted to meet her (not me!)

    I think that the majority of funeral directors see their website as a necessary evil, rather than embracing the huge potential of the internet. That must be clear to the ever-growing number of start-up web-based companies trying to encourage funeral directors to invest in their online potential, only to be hit with the same old “we don’t use the internet”.

    Funeral directors might not ‘use the internet’ but their prospective clients sure do. It won’t be very long before the internet is the only way of researching. Yellow Pages will all-but disappear (if it hasn’t already). The total cost of getting the website designed and online was somewhat less than 4 months’ worth of local paper advertising. I know exactly where I think the better investment was.

    Critic? Me? Why on earth have you put an apostrophe in St Neots?

    • andrew plume

      Friday 12th April 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Hello Andrew

      your site is absolutely terrific, I look at it when I can…….it’s concise and to the point with everything that’s needed, yes you do draw comparisons to the Corporates * and you have the price comparisons to boot, it would be good to see updates for their prices too

      and no, as you do not have ‘the history’ to fall back on to, then your site is nicely free of all of that stuff too

      keep up the great work

      regards

      andrew

      * and Lodge Bros are clearly a Corporate too……….the Indy with more branches than anyone else as far as I am aware, unless one factors what’s left of the Warburton Group into this

      • Sunday 14th April 2013 at 7:00 pm

        Thanks Andrew. I emailed the area manager at the Co-op last week asking for up-to-date prices, but have yet (!) to receive a reply. Lodges still quote the same on the phone, but I have no way of knowing whether or not their phone quote price is the same as their walk-in price.

  14. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Brilliant Charles, absolutely brilliant! I have spent many bemused hours browsing funeral companies’ websites (in the line of NDC business I hasten to add, it’s not a hobby of mine!) and it’s like entering a peculiar parallel universe! You’ve nailed most if not all of the things that are wrong with FD websites – but my bet is that your helpful tips will go unheeded, and Google will continue to delight in finding faux Victoriana-speaking, euphemistic and illiterate sites that apparently do the job of providing an online presence for funeral directors everywhere.
    Maybe the GFG Awards should have a category for the best – worst FD websites? Think you’d get an avalanche of nominations for the latter!

  15. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 11:48 am

    Great post Charles

    I agree that the Kingfisher site is inspired. Modern, clear, fuss free, human.

  16. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 10:34 am

    Steady yourself Charles, I only meant your weakness for a lady dressed smartly but sternly.

  17. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 8:19 am

    Heck, really, Ru? And I was trying to be so objective. Ah well, the usual kicking will soon get under way, I suppose. What cannot be cured must be endured.

  18. Thursday 11th April 2013 at 8:12 am

    Careful Charles, your peccadilloes are showing again…..

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