Posted by Vale
Are you on the map?
On the 1st August a new information service for consumers was launched. It’s called ’Funeralmap’ and it aims to make it easier for someone to find out about funeral related businesses in a locality. You enter a postcode or the name of a town, select the type of business you are interested in and, bingo! the map shows you who’s listed and where they are located. Have a look for yourself here.
Funeralmap is designed for customers, but it doesn’t want to sell you anything directly. Instead it provides a location based directory with some additional information and helpful links. As a new source of customer information GFG is happy to applaud the initiative, but there are two tests to apply. Firstly, is it likely to be useful? Information is already widely available to someone with an Internet connection. Does Funeralmap add value? Will people using it be in a better position to make informed choices? Secondly, if you are a business associated with funerals, is it worth getting yourself listed?
Usefulness first. The site itself is professional and well presented. The map interface is clear and simple and, because it mirrors the sort of google maps search we all use, quite familiar. I found a few glitches in moving around the map, but, I guess, these are teething troubles (or my muddles).
A much bigger issue for me, though, was the poverty of the information available. It’s not just that the listings are so basic – the site is young yet and, if businesses pay for premium listings, more information will arrive. No, it’s more that there is so little opportunity for customer interaction. Funeralmap will not let you, as a customer, post local information, reviews, price or service comparisons or make personal comments. It’s a real weakness. It feels surprisingly old fashioned. It strongly suggests that – because the site is geared to present paid for advertisements – Funeralmap has been built as a businesses platform rather than consumer space. The result is that, as things stand, you can search on Funeralmap, but it’s not your forum and, while it will give you the information that businesses choose to present, it’s not necessarily going to help you make fully informed choices.
So, if you are a business, is it worth getting yourself listed? Well some businesses are there already. Basic information about funeral directors, burial grounds – including natural burial grounds – and crematoria are included for free. Other businesses have to pay for inclusion (and all businesses would need to pay for premium listings). The starting price is £75 a year for a standard listing*.
As a celebrant myself this is a real decision. Most of my business comes via funeral directors at the moment, but, maybe, if I advertised, it would let potential clients know that people like me exist and might prompt them to contact me directly. The evidence from celebrants with who have websites already is that people seem to like them, and, increasingly, expect them, but that they don’t yet drive much business.
People do like to know more about you and, if you haven’t a website yet, a Funeralmap listing that allows for a photograph and some text may help a little. While thinking through my own options I checked out Seth Grodin’s blog. He’s an Internet marketing writer and I found an interesting piece there called called Memo to the very small
Grodin suggests that for very little money, you can easily create a blog based website. The intelligent use of photographs, published comments from clients and customers and basic information about yourself can all help you make a strong local impact. Better than Funeralmap? Well, it’s early days yet – but I think it’s where I’ll start.
What will you do?
*original post corrected 18.00 9th September 2011