ICFM Magazine, October 2005
PRENEED SALES SUCCESS: PART 3 OF 3
"Marketing is absolutely every bit of contact your business has with any segment of the public."
-Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the Guerrilla Marketing series
When we discuss the subject of marketing, we tend to focus on the advertising component, which is only one part of the overall marketing environment.
Marketing encompasses everything from the way your receptionist answers the phone to the cleanliness of your facility and the sales ability of your counselors and funeral directors. It also includes the price you charge for products and services, your location and its convenience, as well as your public and community relations efforts.
There are two worlds of business. The world outside your door is based on customer perceptions and that is where advertising comes into play. The world inside your door is based on the customer experience; it is the place where you must deliver on all the bold promises you've made. How well do you deliver on those promises?
The four Ps of Marketing
Let's take a textbook look at the four Ps of marketing.
Product is the obvious tangible, physical articles available for sale such as caskets, urns and monuments, to name a few. But a product can also be a service and therefore includes the intangible aspects of your offerings, such as the way a family is treated, grief counseling and guidance in the decision making process.
Your product should include three key components:
• improved functionality;
• convenience; and
• unique benefits.
Price is simply the amount of money or other consideration exchanged for the product. Price is also a quantifiable way of measuring the value that customers place on your product. Being the least expensive won't get you anywhere if the prospect does not have the confidence to buy from you. Many times low price actually scares the buyer.
Place is the location of your company or, for those who do not have a storefront, the distribution channel you use to get your product to the consumer.
Although we have limited control over our physical location, we can use innovative marketing strategies to take our story into the community we serve and increase our profile there. You must also establish a trading area and focus your marketing efforts in that zone.
Promotional activities cover a broad spectrum, from advertising to public relations to personal selling.
Advertising takes place in two phases, the planning and development stage and then the creation and placement of the advertising messages themselves. Advertising is a way of mass selling. If you do it well, it brings in prospects and then salespeople use their skills to turn those prospects into buyers. Sales promotions are short-term strategies to give customers incentives to buy.
Public and community relations are crucial to your success
Public relations and advertising are different. In their book "The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR," Al Ries and Laura Ries maintain that a business should be built on PR and maintained through advertising.
If you want your company to grow and prosper, you must make sure your company has a community relations program. At Mount Royal Commemorative Services, we have successfully run a community relations program that has helped us tell our story to more than 2,000 consumers this past year.
Our Seminar Series consists of presentations made by a panel of three experts in their respective fields:
1. A notary who discusses the merits of a notarial will vs. a holographic will, or a will written in the presence of witnesses.
2. An estate planner who highlights the tax implications of estate settling and how to best provide for your family's financial welfare after your death.
3. One of our prearrangement counselors, who extols the merits of preplanning, which include taking a difficult burden off your family; making sure you get the funeral, disposition and memorialization you want; and saving money.
The goal: Making the sale
Personal selling is an integral part of the marketing process; this is when all of your marketing efforts are consummated in a sale. At Mount Royal, we use a program called "Integrity Selling."
Integrity Selling is a philosophy that views the sales process as filling needs, satisfying wants or solving problems. It is a strategy for selling that outlines a step-by-step process for doing it. And, it is an ethics or value-driven system that guides a salesperson's activities.
There are six key steps in the process, as follows:
1. Approach: Establish rapport with your prospects and put them at ease.
2. Interview: Listen and gather information about the prospects' wants and needs.
3. Demonstrate: Present a way to address the wants, needs or problems the prospects have told you about.
4. Validate: Give the prospects information or an experience that will let them know they can have confidence in what you say.
5. Negotiate: Work through the problems that keep prospects from buying.
6. Close: And finally, when prospects are ready to buy. ask them to do it.