Author's note: This is the second in a series of reviews of recently published business and marketing books. I am not rating each book as good or bad; rather, I am offering an overview of the book's topic and then pulling out one lesson or principle to discuss more in-depth.
The New Rules of Marketing & PR (Second Edition) by David Meerman Scott turns everything I learned in my college PR classes on its head. Twenty-some-odd years ago, we focused on controlled, one-way corporate communications. With today's 24-hour news cycle and the prevalence of social media, that model no longer exists.
In many ways, we no longer own our companies' messages. We certainly no longer control them. Control has been transferred to the media (including both traditional media and new outlets such as blogs and Twitter feeds) and to the consumer. The result? Today's marketing and public relations is all about performance, about giving the customer a positive experience that they can blog, tweet or post on their Facebook page.
The Buyer Persona
One area Scott discusses that has particular relevance to cemeteries and funeral homes is the importance of creating and addressing different "buyer personas" through your online marketing.
Is your Web site a one-size-fits-all brochure? Most are, but according to Scott, this is a missed opportunity. You have different target audiences, and your Web site should make it easy for each of those audiences to find the information they need.
You have both preneed prospects and at-need families visiting your site. You have older customers researching options for themselves and younger people trying to help their parents or grandparents. You have customers who want full-body burial and those who want cremation. You have genealogists, people whose loved ones are buried at your cemetery, mortuary students conducting research, local media and so forth. Each of these groups, these personas, are looking for different information. Or in some cases, they may be looking for much the same information but they need to be provided it in a different way, with different language and a different focus. These groups also research their interests in different ways; for example, they search online using different key words.
The key to making sure each of these personas finds you and has a positive experience with you is to tailor different portions of your website (and your extended web presence) based on each of their needs, desires and tendencies. As with all new marketing, it is not about you, it is about your customer.