East Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries has hit on a way to make people look forward to hearing from them.
This "soft sell" approach has brought them community goodwill and a steady stream of people who pick up the phone and call East Lawn.
In the spring of 2000, I was working a preneed booth at a senior exposition held in a hotel in Sacramento, where East Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries is located.
One of the exposition's major sponsors was a local radio station, KCTC, which maintains a format that appeals to the senior market. Dubbed "Your Memories Station," KCTC has a growing audience of senior listeners—our primary target market.
During the exposition I met Tom Pate, an advertising executive for KCTC. While he and I were talking, I shared with him the challenges inherent in marketing cemetery and funeral products and services.
I had been looking for a new marketing vehicle that would be innovative while maintaining the requisite subtlety and dignity. Tom said he'd give some thought to a delivery mechanism that would meet our needs.
Shortly after our initial visit, Tom called me with a program concept and a spokesperson, Jerry Healey. Jerry is a well known voice in the local senior community. He's actively involved in everything from doing ads to hosting senior events and excursions.
Tom and Jerry were getting ready to start a daily radio program called "Feel Good Moments." The concept was simple: Jerry would read a short inspirational story, poem or quotation. Sometimes the piece would be funny, sometimes poignant. Sometimes it would relate to current events and conditions. Often it would recall ''the good ole days." In all cases, the message is a positive one.
East Lawn became sponsor of this three-minute feature that runs every weekday at 9:30 a.m. Our name is mentioned both before and after the "Feel Good Moments" broadcast. In addition, the station runs promos for the program throughout the day which also mention East Lawn's sponsorship.
An important part of the program is the fact that listeners are invited to call either the station or East Lawn if they want a transcript of a particular "Feel Good Moments" broadcast. Requests that go directly to the station are referred to us.
These transcript requests give East Lawn a chance to contact people directly. We either mail the transcripts, which are provided on East Lawn letterhead, or deliver them in person. We also enclose material about East Lawn, preplanning and other information.
The transcripts invariably end up displayed on the refrigerator or some other prominent spot in people's homes, a constant reminder that East Lawn is responsible for this positive message.
Since the broadcasts began in July 2000, we have received anywhere from five to 15 requests a week for a "Feel Good Moments" transcript. Listeners have been very appreciative of the program and rightly perceived that East Lawn has made these day-brighteners possible.
When we exhibit at senior fairs and in other venues, we promote Jerry and the ''Feel Good Moments" via posters.
After nearly five years on the air, this marketing campaign continues to evoke community interest. The station's listeners reach a large geographic area—as do our funeral homes and cemeteries—and the program has grown in popularity.
The program has become an established favorite for many seniors and I have enjoyed talking to listeners, providing them with broadcast transcripts and sharing with them a little bit about our mortuaries and memorial parks.
One of many 'feel good moments' shared with the public
A transcript of one "feel good moment" sponsored by East Lawn Memorial Park:
A three-word philosophy
I have a friend who lives by a three-word philosophy: "Seize the moment." A wise woman! Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word ''refrigeration'' mean nothing to you?
I can't count the number of times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch?" She would gasp and stammer, ''I can't. My hair is dirty, I had a late breakfast, it looks like rain." And, my personal favorite, "It's Monday." She died a few years ago.... We never did have lunch together.
We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves, but life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter and the list of promises gets longer.
One morning we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," "I plan on" and "Someday, when things settle down a bit."
I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my hips with a spatula and eliminate the digesting process. However, the other day I stopped the car and bought a triple decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.