Spencer commented on the post, Tim and Robin Discuss “Funeral Home Blogging”, and was gracious enough to answer my last question:  Do funeral homes REALLY need the Internet? 

First off, allow me to thank Tim for such a great blog, and for the opportunity to write this post.  I’m not a writer so please bear with me as I try to bring out some points that I believe are important.  I believe that Funeral Homes are just now starting to see the plus in getting a website.  My goal is to make it something that they find useful, something that helps their business.

Since this post is about Blogs and Web Site, let’s look at the meaning of both words:

Blog:   A frequently updated journal or diary—the first thing that pops into mind is: happenings in everyday life: such as….a funny thing happened today as I was driving down Elm St…….

Web Site:  A website collection of pages of text, images, and other files (such as audio) that make up a company online presence.

I would like to take a look first at what a website should be, or is, to a business.

Bill Gates once said: “There are two types of businesses in today’s world.  Those that are failing, and those that have an online presence”.

Your online site is much like a fingerprint—it marks you, and there are parts about each site that are different.  With blogs it is harder to customize it to fit YOU.  With ONE look when you first go to a site you can tell if they are using Blogging software, Front Page (or something close) or if they have a custom, professional website.   A website must FIT you.  If it doesn’t, you won’t have good success with it.

With the World-Wide-Web there has been unlimited possible ways for people to get their message out for others to see.  There is the younger age, “personal” way of blogging it, and there is the professional way of doing it through a traditional website.

Funeral Homes have always been a place of dignity, and a place where respect is given to the family that has lost a loved one.  That dignity must not be thrown out the window for the sake of keeping up with the 21st century or just to save some money.   A professional website speaks of care, and something that takes work, and maybe some money, to put together and keep up.  While a blog is, and can be a lot of work, in most cases it is free (or very low cost), and can’t be customized to where it can be like a fingerprint.

When visiting a business website most people are looking for something pertinent to that field. If you go to a Hotel Website, you are most likely looking for rates, and maybe photos of the rooms. If you go to a Funeral Home website most likely you are looking for an obit, or directions, or to learn more about the place you are interested in making your arrangements.  This is all much more possible, and easier with a website, than a blog.  You can control the inner workings with a website with ease, and you can make it work FOR you and not you for it.

With a website you have much, much more freedom to add, and work on your website to make it reflect YOU. Adding forms, photo galleries, download galleries, video files, email lists, guestbook, calendar, Shopping Cart, and audio files are much easier, and some of those might not even be possible with a blog.  Some blogging software doesn’t allow the owner to have Java script, or Flash.  This isn’t to be something you have to work around…this should be a tool that works for you.
 Since the first blog (I believe the first blog was started in 1997) there has been a place and a time for a person/company to have, and use a Blog.  

Blogs have been and always will be an important item in today’s online world, there is no denying that.  As of Dec. 2007 there was an estimated 112 million blogs.  But the traditional website still has the major role in the online world.  

I feel that in most cases a blog’s usefulness ends at the place of Professional Business.  As I think about it, a blog might be best suited for a Funeral Director.  The Funeral Director can update it with either pertinent information or everyday like facts.  If a link is placed on the Funeral Home website to that blog, that is up to the Funeral Home.   Maybe the best way to mix a blog and a website for a funeral home is the way Dale’s friends at geibfuneral.com do.  I must say I was impressed with the way the blog was integrated into the site.

In the last post by Tim, titled Do Funeral Homes REALLY Need the Internet?, he says:

Does this mean that funeral homes should run out and get the latest, greatest technology, just because the kids have it?  You can answer that for yourself (hint:  NO).

But it does mean that the day is quickly approaching when those 20 and 30 year olds will be deciding which funeral home to use for dad’s service or grandma’s memorial.  And they don’t pick up phone books anymore.

I agree!  The people you are serving today are the ones who use the internet to do their searching.  If you aren’t there….how do they find you? 

I guess my ending line would be: Your site should be YOU.  If YOU and your Funeral Home are more of a tech savvy, updated FH, then blog it baby!

As I type this my company is in the process of developing some new software that will help funeral homes with the issue of websites.  When it is completed I hope to send a sample to Tim and let him check it out and give us his thoughts.  I think he will be impressed with the ease of making, producing, and updating a website.