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datadale's picture

Planning an Effective, ongoing Preneed Marketing Program

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Just a note to let my readers and colleagues know to pick up the January issue of ICCFA Magazine and read my latest article - titled Planning an Effective, On-Going Pre-Need Marketing Program. The article is chock full of great ideas to help funeral homes & cemeteries reach the right people at the right time! 

 

Bob Fells's picture

What State is the State of the Union In?

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Why We Vote

[Note: This essay is one in a continuing series by ICCFA executive director Bob Fells focusing on various issues in our federal government. Although the subjects are political in nature, the approach is bipartisan in outlook, at least so far as that is humanly possible. The goal of each essay is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular political viewpoint or party, but to illustrate why a knowledge of the system is important to protect our businesses, our homes, and our families.]

What State is the State of the Union In?

The news media hype building up to Election Day mercifully occurs only once every two years. That’s plenty for most of us. But every year before the ink is dry on proclaiming the New Year, we are bombarded with great expectations about the President’s State of the Union Address. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much been written by so many for so little results. Regardless of the President in office at the moment, the fabled State of the Union Address has deteriorated into a wish list that the chief executive of our nation would enact if he could wave a magic wand and get it.

And is there an annual political event that vanishes from the radar screen as quickly as the State of the Union Address? I don’t think so. Why then all the fuss about it? Part of the answer is that January tends to be a “slow” news month so unless the media gets lucky with some catastrophe happening somewhere, the State of the Union speech is like the proverbial “any old port in a storm.” We will probably never go back to the days of James Gordon Bennett, the editor of the New York Herald, who proclaimed that “other newspapers are content to just report the news, but we go out and make it happen.” So the next best thing is to take a predictable event upon which nobody would bet for any surprises, and hype it to the heavens. This point goes back to an earlier piece that I wrote discussing how the news is managed. Whether you’re reading a newspaper or watching the news online or on TV, each story reported is carefully chosen. The first story didn’t become first all by itself. Somebody behind the scenes ordered that it be first. The same for everything else you see, read or hear. Even with 24/7 all news programming, the same half dozen or so stories are constantly recycled until somebody decides otherwise. Remember the hysterical reporting on the Ebola virus towards the end of last year? This illness continues to be a real threat but the news media collectively got tired of milking this story and it disappeared overnight.

Most stories come up unexpectedly but the State of the Union Address has a wonderful predictability that the media can plan on well in advance. Not to be boorish but does anybody remember anything from last year’s speech? In recent times, the most memorable State of the Union speech was given by Bill Clinton in early 1996. That’s the one where he announced, “The era of Big Government is over.” That statement made banner headlines around the world for days afterwards. Little noted was that President Clinton then proposed five or six new Big Government programs before his speech ended. It was speculated that 1996 being a Presidential election year, Clinton was shoring up some voter support by his Reaganesque declaration.

But that was nearly twenty years ago and we’ve had a generation of forgettable speeches billed as “history-making” since then. To be fair, the State of the Union Address is constitutionally required of the President to keep the Congress advised of events. But Wolf Blitzer could do that. No, the State of the Union has become a sort of report card on how the Administration is doing. This is not unlike asking a student to grade his school work. Unless he or she happens to be a straight-A student, the report might be somewhat skewed, if not fanciful. The speech is filled with campaign rhetoric and this tends to work out well for those particular Presidents who are better suited to run for office than actually serve in office. We won’t mention any names but you know who they are. Some Presidents use the speech to complain about Congress blocking some of their legislation. In 1975, Gerry Ford literally begged Congress for funding to keep North Vietnam from moving into South Vietnam, per the peace treaty that ended the combat. The Congress refused to budge and it was only then that South Vietnam fell to the Communists. It now seems to be a footnote in history that we won that war but lost the peace. At any rate, the State of the Union rarely delivers on the much vaunted expectations and last night’s speech was no exception. The Address is not unlike an employee filling out an evaluation on his or her job performance. The difference is that the boss can disagree with the employee and take appropriate action. The only thing most Americans can do in the wake of the State of the Union Address is to forget about it.

datadale's picture

The Casket Experience

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 A new Central Florida TV Show called Emotional Mojo featured a brand new experience, guaranteed to be “the Ultimate New Year’s Resolution”

They brand themselves as a motivational multi-platform concept that empowers people to move forward and follow their dreams.

On their TV Show, they challenged individuals to climb into a casket and watch a 10-minute inspirational video in the closed casket.

Participants found that that being in the casket gave them courage to move forward, let go of fears and change things in their lives.

Emotional Mojo’s creator calls this the Casket Experience and expects to be expanding the program in the near future.

So – how do members of the Industry feel about this?

datadale's picture

No Idea Is Stupid

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Same old same old doesn't do it anymore.
When was the last time you said down with your staff to come up with some new marketing ideas?

Let's face it, if we do the same thing year after year it gets boring - not only for us - but for our customers as well. Come on – every year we send a snowman holiday card to our customers; we do a new pastel-colored push for spring and then we get out the old sun wearing sunglasses with the words “hot summer deals” for summer.

We have to do better.

Why don't you plan quarterly meetings with your people and I mean all your people with the theme that No Idea Is Stupid.

Talk it out. You’ll be surprised how many new ideas your group will imagine. You may even recycle some oldies but goodies and reinvent them with today’s media mix in mind.

datadale's picture

The Real Truth About Word of Mouth & Lead Generation

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 Leads- leads- leads.


What's the old saying? The best leads come from word of mouth.

While this does have some truth to it, it often leads businesses to fall into what I call the word of mouth trap. And new businesses are the ones who suffer most from this syndrome.

New businesses will get a rush of leads right off the bat from their clients & existing friends network. While these referrals are great...many new businesses continue to think that word of mouth will be their single best marketing tool.

Forget it. Once that initial rush is over and you’ve done all the work you can for family and friends, it’s like somebody turned off the faucet. Suddenly your appointment schedule is empty with no way to generate leads - if you have no plan in place.

The truth is that marketing is not a one-time event that happens when you start a business. A new business will never make it on word of mouth alone.

Marketing is something that needs to happen consistently. Businesses need to face this fact every day of the year make sure they have a long-term marketing strategy in place that includes outreach via several different types of media; including direct mail, telemarketing, online presence, branding & networking

 

Bob Fells's picture

Election Day 2014 - When Voters Noticed the Emperor has No Clothes

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Election Day 2014 – When Voters Noticed the Emperor Has No Clothes

[Note: This essay is one in a continuing series by ICCFA executive director Bob Fells focusing on various issues in our federal government. Although the subjects are political in nature, the approach is bipartisan in outlook, at least so far as that is humanly possible. The goal of each essay is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular political viewpoint or party, but to illustrate why a knowledge of the system is important to protect our businesses, our homes, and our families.]

Name a day in the calendar that receives an incredible media build-up for months in advance, then is dropped from conversation just a few days afterwards. Some people may say Super Bowl Sunday, but I was thinking more of Election Day, the first Tuesday in November every other year. By this time, for those interested, all the talking heads and chattering classes on TV, radio, print and electronic media, have offered their takes on what happened this past November 4. Since I’m something of a political junkie I must admit that I watched, listened to, and read many, many analyses. Like most people, I picked out what I liked hearing, and dismissed the rest. But I heard very little that mirrored my own impressions of this past Election Day.

Two years ago this November when we last had a Presidential election, I concluded that the majority of voters had cast their approval for Big Government. Indeed, today so many people earn their living due to the growth of Big Government, directly or indirectly, that it seems almost foolish not to vote for candidates who promise to keep the good times rolling. But now I have to confess, as a result of this year’s elections, that maybe my conclusions in 2012 aren’t so simple. If voters were siding with “Government R Us” candidates in 2012, then what were they saying just a few weeks ago? Here’s my take on it.

I think it can be stated in non-partisan terms that Big Government is here to stay. Trying to reduce the size of the federal government, as Republicans tend to do, is like letting a few pounds of air out of your tires. That may be good to avoid over-inflation and premature wear, but we need inflated tires if we want our cars to work properly. Likewise, we can put the best motor oil in our engine but in time it will break down and need to be replaced. Same thing with government. The 2012 elections seem to pit the issue of pro-growth government against anti-growth government, and people unsurprisingly voted to keep their jobs and vote for the people who keep them there. Obama, the “you didn’t build that” candidate won, and Romney, the “send me the files on women” candidate lost. So why wasn’t the 2014 election results simply a repeat performance?

My take is that the focus of attention has shifted from government job creation to determining the role of government in our lives. The past two years have been tough on privacy issues and people wonder why the government has started spying on their email and on their cell phone calls. The answer is really quite simple: the government never did these things before because until recently none of us had cell phones or email to be spied upon. As with all technological advances, the question is just because we have the capability to do something now, should we?

Life was simpler years ago. Not necessarily better, just simpler. What was moral was legal and what was immoral was illegal. All that began changing in the 1960s when courts and legislatures decided that legality was a government concern, and morality was a personal concern. So we began to see the legal/moral road diverge until today many people hold that if something they want to do is legal they don’t care if it’s moral. In the lead up to the 2014 elections we were told that the government spying on its people was legal and it was to protect us. But few voters felt protected by such violations of their privacy and, legality be damned, it was just plain wrong.

So on November 4, it seems to me that voters no longer fretted about Big Government vis-à-vis jobs, but were very concerned about Big Brother. There’s a TV show called “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?”  This past Election Day a majority of those who voted seemed to be saying, “Who the (Bleep) Did We Elect to Run Our Government?”  It has been observed that the results were not really pro-Republican and anti-Democrat. I am inclined to agree with that assessment.

Whether the issue is health care reform, immigration reform, or tax reform, there was a sense that the leadership had lost its way so it was time to “throw the bums out.” Whether we have merely elected a new set of bums remains to be seen. In the meantime, it’s worth considering whether a new paradigm has emerged. It’s not politically right or left, Republican or Democrat. That’s become so 20th century. The new paradigm might be expressed as “Be careful what you seek from your government” or “Do I really want the government to take care of me?” If there’s something to any of this, the 2016 elections could be truly revolutionary.

 
 

 

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