July 2008

 If you’ve paid any attention to ABC News or Internet videos, you’ve no doubt met Randy Pausch, the Carnegie-Mellon professor who delivered his “Last Lecture” on September 18, 2007 to an auditorium full of his friends, students and colleagues and, inadvertently, to the rest of the world, via the WorldWide Web.

Here’s a link to the video of his lecture:  Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

Randy begins the video by explaining that he has pancreatic cancer and has 3-6 months of good health left.  He goes on to share the stories of his life and work.  The lecture was turned into a bestselling book in April 2008.

Randy died last Friday, July 25, 2008.  He was 47.

How wide was his reach?  For starters, Google added a memorial to their main search page for Randy:

google-homepage-in-memoriam-randy-pausch by TrendsSpotting.

Wired has a fascinating story about the reaction to his death.  The writer ruminates on what the collective mourning means for the future of the Internet and, interestingly enough, death itself.  Here’s a sample:

The strength of the internet communities’ reaction to the medium’s most famous death-defying cancer patient shows how this series of tubes has come of age, not just as a market or a means of distribution, but as a series of linked communities, significant enough to require affirmations in the face of death.

Comments, then, are flowers and wreaths, candles, pictures and prayers, and the Pausch’s doorstep is located precisely at any address at which the web’s spiders can find their name.

It reminds me of why I write this blog and how important the Internet has become to me and many people like me.

The Internet (not just the computer) has changed my life.  I sell my product online, I talk to most of my friends via email, I use Skype to call my consulting clients and record the sessions.

Even more, I haven’t cracked a phone book or encyclopedia in over a year.  My first point of reference for any subject, product search or phone number is Google.

I’m 33 years old.  In the coming years, my generation will be making the important decisions for our parents, including how to memorialize them at their death and which funeral home to use, if any.

Becoming familiar with the Internet and the communities it continues to create is no longer a luxury. 

This afternoon, I’ll be participating in a teleseminar titled Funeral Blogging 101.  It’s a free hour-long session with blogging funeral director Brian Hanner, me and Funeral Futurist Robin Heppell.  Click the link and join us!


I’m still toying with a technology theme, as many of my chapters deal with how to interact with the “new” consumer.

While it’s just a crappy Paint version (I’ll create whichever final design I choose with better software), what ya’ll think of this’n?

This Wednesday, July 30th at 4:00 pm Eastern, I’ll be taking part in a teleseminar titled Funeral Blogging 101.

Hosted by Funeral Gurus creator, Robin Heppell, the discussion will include my friends Brian Hanner and BT Hathaway, and will focus on using a blog to promote your funeral home and inform your community.

While preparing a few remarks for the seminar, I found some interesting facts which cemented, for me at least, the reason why I write this blog as part of the marketing efforts for my company.

Because this blog was created to help publicize our quilted mortuary cot covers, I decided to find out how often visitors to this site have clicked over to our retail website (www.cotcovers.com) to check out our product.  Here are the results, compiled on June 28, 2008:

Last 7 Days:  10 clicks
Last 30 Days:  23 clicks
Last 90 Days:  62 clicks
Last 365 Days:  291 clicks
Since Day 1 – October 2006:  359 clicks

Writing a blog was just one part of my marketing strategy for our cot covers, as detailed in the post The Future of Final Embrace, but it’s been very helpful to me personally and professionally.

The hundreds of posts here have helped me hone my skills and I’ve developed wonderful new friendships with my readers.

Professionally, the blog helps me create contacts with important players in the industry and magazine readers, along with those who stumble upon the blog, turn into customers for our quilted cot covers.

Also worth noting:  our sponsors also see impressive click-through numbers.  The Funeral Site sponsored us last year and have had 83 click-throughs to their site.  And since their sponsor logo remains on all those posts that they supported, they continue to get clicks from our readers.

The blog is also an effective incubator for my ideas about the industry and how to market funeral industry products.  The blog continues to lead to unexpected sidelines, like funeral vendor consulting and the book I’m finishing.

Of course, if I just wanted to trade blogging for clicks or dollars spent on my products, I’d choose another medium.

My blogging doesn’t pay for itself with clicks or orders.  But so far, it’s helped me organize my thoughts, write a book, secure speaking gigs, publish articles in trade magazines and meet important and precious new friends.

And I can do it all in as few as 10 minutes a day (but usually a lot longer!).

Too often, funeral professionals get stuck on what kind of extra products or services they convinced a family to purchase.

But what happens when the family would rather deliver the body by UPS?

Here’s an example where a funeral home that helped a family honor a beloved father and UPS driver didn’t sell as much (no hearse rental fee) but created goodwill in their community:

UPS Driver Gets Special, Final Delivery

This is the final week of sponsorship from our friends Ryan and Spencer from Hilltop.net.

Hopefully, all our readers have visited Hilltop.net and checked out the beautiful, yet easy-to-update websites they offer.

But since all good things (even the inexpensive ones) must come to an end, we’re saying goodbye to this round of sponsorship from them and we’re looking for our next benefactor.

What do you get for the money?

Well, look around for all the Hilltop.net logos (if you’re reading this the week of 7/28/08.  Otherwise you’ll see someone else’s logos!) and notice all the cheap publicity they’re getting.

Second, search some of our posts from July 2008.  You’ll see that many of them end with a Hilltop.net logo, which is linked to their website.

Third, we’ll thank you several times during the sponsorship period and write a nice post about you at the beginning of your sponsorship to introduce you to our readers.

Does sponsorship generate a lot of traffic to your site?  Our software tracks the number of click-through traffic.  For Hilltop.net’s sponsorship, we logged 20 visitors who clicked on a link for Hilltop and visited their site.

I admit, on the surface, those 20 visits don’t sound like a lot.  But I remember several ads I ran in a trade publication (I won’t say which one) that generated fewer than three phone calls each.

Twenty visitors who visit your site represent undivided attention paid to your main website marketing message.  How often does a magazine ad convice someone to go to the computer, type in your address and visit your site?

It’s easy to read a story in the paper or hear it on the evening news and dismiss it as “blown out of proportion.”

But when you see it first hand, the reality hits home.

In our recent interactions with funeral directors at convention expos and the kind of orders we’ve been getting for our quilted cot covers, it’s clear that Americans are packing on the pounds.

Almost half of our July orders have been for covers to fit the 24-Maxx or other oversized cots and standard-sized covers with a little extra room all around.

Of course, we love to accommodate our clients, so we gladly make covers at whatever size needed.  Anything with different dimensions that our standard covers can be made by choosing our PLUS Option.  At $50, the PLUS Option is an ideal way to get the right-sized cover for your application.

How big will we go?  Well, we can usually go up to 54″ in width (top + 2 sides) which is how wide we make the covers for the 24-Maxx.

Of course, if you need something larger, call us at 321-287-0628.  We can work with you to figure out how much we’d need to charge to cover the extra materials.

Robin Heppell, BT Hathaway, Brian Hanner and I will be taking part in this great teleseminar:

EVENT:  Funeral Blogging 101
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, July 30th 4:00 pm Eastern / 1:00pm Pacific
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast — it’s your choice)

In this Funeral Blogging 101 teleseminar, you will learn:

* about basic blogging terminology
* what are the different blogging platforms and services
* what to write about for your first post – and future topics
* how often, what tone, and other issues for your “Blog Plan”
* how to get started today!

To register, visit:

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