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?


I met Spencer and Ryan in person at the Kentucky Funeral Directors Association convention in June, but Spencer has been a long-time reader of the blog.

Now they’re not just our friends, but our newest sponsor.

Hilltop.net offers some pretty impressive funeral home website software.  In fact, if you can format a simple letter in Microsoft Word, you can use Hilltop’s software to create a beautiful website for your funeral home.

Spencer, Ryan and their staff will help you with the initial planning of your site, including decisions to do with colors, photos of your funeral home and ad copy for the pages you select.  They’ll also help you choose a template from their large collection, which they’ll then customize with your colors and photos.

After that, it’s easy for you or a member of your staff to customize the site and add obituaries.

That’s right:  you can add obituaries at anytime you like!  You don’t have to email the text and photo to someone else to enter for you and the photo can be uploaded at it’s current size.  No cropping or re-sizing required.

I tested their product at the Kentucky convention and was able to add an obituary and photo (start to finish) in less than 2 minutes.

The only thing that could make this a better deal is a low price, and boy, does Hilltop.net deliver.

Sign up for a year and you pay just $29.95 a month!

Want to know more?  Click on the sponsor link at the bottom of this post and others during the next few weeks.

Our good friend (and blog reader) Thomas Poolton has shared his Colors of Honor program with us in the past.  Now, he’s just sent me a big box that contains his latest product.

I’ve gathered a few local folks (funeral professionals and ‘civilians’ alike) for some initial reactions.

I’ll pass these on to Thomas and share the product details and our impressions with you in January, when his company sponsors Final Embrace for a week (details here!) and rolls out this exciting new product.

Don’t miss it!


Our newest sponsor is also one dear to my heart:  Treasured Memory Bears.

This is the first company I ever started and it’s one I still love.  These bears are custom-made, so no two are alike.  In fact, we can’t even make a bear until a client sends us clothing or other fabric that has some special meaning to them.

We’ve made bears out of wedding dresses, sports jerseys, blue jeans and tuxedos.  We’ve used dog bed fabric, a favorite blanket and nursery curtains.

In fact, we’re only limited by the integrity of the fabric and the willingness to let us cut it up to repurpose it as a keepsake teddy bear.

These make perfect Christmas gifts for someone who’s either experienced the loss of a loved one or for someone who wants to mark an important life event (child’s graduation, wedding, etc.).

Single bears cost $134.99, which includes insured Priority Mail shipping back to the client.  We also give discounts on multiple orders.

Complete instructions, as well as photos of much of our work is available at our website, Treasured Memory Bears. 


I’m looking for just a few more January sponsors. 

If you’re interested in getting your name in front of 350+ daily readers for just $25 a week (that’s less than $4 a day!) drop me a line at finalembraceonline@gmail.com or call 321-287-0628.

We’ve got a week left in January and two weeks in February still available.

And if you attended the Final Embrace Contributors Forum at the NFDA Covention in Vegas, you get two weeks for the price of one! 

So join Connecting Directors, CotCovers.com and The Funeral Site and become a sponsor of Final Embrace!

Our newest sponsor is a newcomer to the industry and is just starting to make a name for themselves:

TheFuneralSite.com helps people research and plan funerals.  It also helps funeral homes develop leads for their services.

There are three guiding principles at work on TheFuneralSite.com:

Make it Personal
The company is founded on the belief that funerals are important rituals that should reflect the individual life of both the survivors and the deceased. 

Explore Options
The era of cookie-cutter funerals is over.  In response to consumer demand, the funeral industry now provides thousands of options for memorializing a life.  TheFuneralSite.com strives to provide information on all of these options.

Find Providers
Two directories help consumers find providers of funeral services and products. The “Find a Funeral Home” directory is a list of nearly every funeral home in America. Consumers can search by city for funeral homes.  Consumers can also conduct an “Advanced Search” to identify funeral homes that meet their particular search criteria. For example, consumers can search for a funeral home in Toledo, Ohio, with reception capabilities for 100 guests, video recording capabilities and a piano.  Search results will display the featured funeral homes that match the search criteria.

They also offer two distinct ways for funeral homes and product makers to reach their site visitors: 

Featured Funeral Homes
Become one by purchasing a featured listing. Featured funeral homes appear at the top of the search results in a highlighted box.  Featured funeral homes also receive a full page description, photos and a link to their website.

Find Funeral Products/Services
A directory of every conceivable funeral product or service the public could purchase on-line.  Companies must purchase a listing to be included in this directory.

TheFuneralSite.com launched in October 2007 at the National Funeral Directors Association convention in Las Vegas.  The founding partners are David Johnson and Anna Copley.

The following is the press release for Connecting Directors, this week’s sponsor of Final Embrace:

The website Myspace.com allows friends to connect and share their stories, favorite music and future plans.  Other sites like Facebook and LinkedIn cater to a more professional user base.   All three are part of the online world of social networking.The funeral industry is already seeing the effects that social networking has on modern funerals, as younger members of client families use their Facebook account to notify their friends of a loved one’s death, others use MyDeathSpace.com to honor the deceased and MySpace pages are turned into permanent memorials after a user’s death. And while funeral professionals can use one of these sites to build their own online profile, there hasn’t been an effective place for the funeral industry to gather, share ideas, record important thoughts or work out industry-specific issues until now.

Connecting Directors is a new funeral resource provider that runs the social networking site, http://www.connectingdirectors.com/.  More than just a page to detail your likes and dislikes, favorite bands or movies and vital statistics (like MySpace), the site encompasses discussion boards for in depth discussion of industry topics.  Users can also create their own blog, where they can write about their life, their firm, their career or any other topic imaginable.

Member’s web pages allow a funeral professional to create a “presence” on the Internet, as well as offering a place where the user’s friends and colleagues can access all his/her created content.

The designer of Connecting Directors, Ryan Thogmartin is proud that his site stands out from the mainstream providers by offering teleconferencing and audio/video web conferencing to users.

“The funeral industry is trying to progress, but it’s a lot slower than other fields,”  says Thogmartin.  “We’re providing a resource for funeral professionals to connect in faster, more innovative ways.” Ryan goes on to share that many of his current users have found the web conferencing tool to be an effective way for employees at separate locations to attend a virtual staff meeting each day, which helps resolve problems faster and maintain staff unity.

“Between the web conferencing and the teleconferencing features, we’ve already shown several of our users how to save thousands of dollars each month in fuel and travel costs,” claims Thogmartin.  “Even our teleconferencing is different than a regular phone call, since several people can participate at once, saving time and money.”  Connecting Directors currently offers free memberships, possible because Connecting Directors also offers limited advertising to industry product/service providers.

“Building a site just for the funeral industry was fun but challenging, because of the specific needs of the field,” shares Thogmartin.  “But the feedback we’ve already gotten from the hundreds of page views each day tells us that we’re on to something.”

If you would like more information about http://www.connectingdirectors.com/ or advertising on the site please email Ryan Thogmartin at ryan@connectingdirectors.com.

Connectingdirectors.com…the “Facebook” of the funeral industry.