In my last post, Do Funeral Homes REALLY Need the Internet?, I went off on a tangent about the kind of funeral homes that DON’T need the Internet.

In short, I basically pointed out that if you can’t figure out how to create an effective story for your firm and tell it with the simple advertising media you already use (yellow pages, billboards, brochures, church bulletin ads, etc.) then you’re wasting your time on an elaborate website.

Converting potential clients to paying customers (even in the funeral industry, you have to convince people to use your firm) is mainly about how you communicate with them.  Now, I don’t mean saying “please” and “thank you,” although courtesy is important.  I’m talking about how you identify your firm and the story you tell to your community.

Every person who needs a funeral director has an idea of the kind of funeral and funeral home they want for their loved one.  Some customers value an extremely personalized service and will look for a funeral home that can offer it.  Others might be focused on price and “getting the best deal.”  And some folks just want the most convenient location and the firm that will do the funeral on the day they’ve already chosen.

Those customers are not the same person and they will not all choose the same firm.

So identifying yourself in the market will make it easier for your customers (the ones predisposed to use your firm) to find you.

But if you can’t articulate your “story” in a yellow page ad or in a brochure, you’re just confusing the issue and your potential clients.

 I personally struggle every day to write clearly and represent our company and product (quilted cot covers) in the simplest, most effective way.  And I’m a trained writer!  How much harder is it for trained funeral directors to communicate effectively?

The biggest misconception is that business writing has to be stilted, formal and fancy.  Ugh!!!  Stop writing boring stuff!

Even though it looks easy, simple writing is REALLY HARD.  But effective communication means you have to get rid of the stuff that confuses the real meaning of your work.  Toss out the fancy words and the long prepositional phrases.  Allow yourself to start a sentence with “and” or “but”.  Give yourself some freedom to write like you talk and then edit the crap out of it.

Want to start smaller?  Follow this simple exercise:

Pull out your latest brochure.  You know, the one that looks pretty with all those long paragraphs that tell all about your history and all the great service you can provide.

Now, write a one-sentence summary of each section.  The sentence must be short and not contain commas, unless there’s a list of things in the sentence.

After you’ve written this small summary, read it over for content.  Does the brochure really say what you wanted?   Do you need a few more sentences?  If so, write one more sentence for each section that needs it.  Keep the sentences short.

And remember, Funerals are an intensely personal affair, so any writing for your business should reflect that.

Whenever I write something, I try to set it aside for a few hours or a few days (if I have the time) and come back to it with fresh eyes.  Then I can more closely approximate how you will read it.  Often, I find myself skipping the boring parts, just like you do when you read. 

No, you shouldn’t feel bad.  We all skip stuff when we read because we know that most people aren’t great writers.  Your challenge, when communicating through writing with customers and potential customers, is to make every word meaningful, so the time you “borrow” from your reader isn’t wasted.

Need help?  Drop me an email (finalembraceonline@gmail.com) with a copy of what you’ve written, even if it’s old and needs work.  I’d be happy to give you a quick critique and some helpful suggestions.

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