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Kickstart Your Marketing Program with 55 Words that Convert

datadale's picture

It doesn’t matter whether this is a subject line of an e-mail, teaser copy on an envelope, the headline of a post or even a tweet – the right verb can make a dramatic difference in the response or open rate.

Marketing Guru, Pat Friesen, has put together this very comprehensive list of the top 55 words that convert.
As always, marketers need to test to see which one performs best for their individual direct marketing program.

BTW - I used the verb “Kickstart” in my headline to generate interest. Which ones do you think will excite your customers?

1. act
2. add
3. apply
4. boost
5. buy
6. build
7. call
8. choose
9. claim
10. click
11. compare
12. confirm
13. connect
14. contact
15. discover
16. download
17. explore
18. find
19. follow
20. get
21. grab
22. go
23. improve
24. increase
25. join
26. kickstart
27. keep
28. like 29. learn
30. make
31. master
32. pack
33. plan
34. perfect
35. polish
36. read
37. receive
38. reduce
39. register
40. reply
41. save
42. see
43. send
44. share
45. shop
46. sign (up)
47. start
48. take
49. talk
50. try
51. tweet
52. update
53. view
54. visit
55. watch

Industry News 11.6.2015

Rick Platter's picture

ICCFA 2016 Wide World of Sales conference January 13-15, 2016 • Monte Carlo Resort & Casino • Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ICCFA 2016 Annual Convention & Expo will be held in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center April 13-16, 2016 and the host hotel will be the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Click this link to download the Exhibitor Prospectus/Booth Application. Submit your booth application before the 1st deadline date of 11/25/2015 so you will be among the 1st group of exhibitors to get assigned to your booth space.

A new green trend: Natural burial (U.S.)

Carriage Services (CSV) Announces Quarterly Earnings Results (U.S.)

‘Death isn’t bad, and celebrating is good’ (Canada)

Rather Be Cremated Than Buried? You're Not Alone (U.S.)

Matthews International Corp Rating Lowered to Neutral at Macquarie (MATW) (U.S.)

Bio Cremation begins operation at UCLA’s Donated Body Program (U.S.)


Funeral Consumer Alliance Takes a Survey

Bob Fells's picture

I admit it, I’m jealous. The Funeral Consumer Alliance (FCA), the funeral profession’s staunchest critic, joined with the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) to take a survey of funeral home prices in ten U.S. metropolitan areas. No, that’s not why I’m jealous. I am jealous because they managed to get their story carried in some prestigious news media outlets including Time, Forbes, and the Washington Post. I wish we could do that.

At any rate, FCA/CFA say they randomly selected 15 funeral homes in ten cities: Atlanta, Denver, Indianapolis, Mercer County, NJ, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orange County, CA, Philadelphia, Seattle, Tucson, and Washington, D.C. They said that each funeral home had a website and they wanted to see how many posted their prices on the websites. The groups also wanted to see how many of these funeral homes provided price information by email when each was contacted by email. Perhaps this is a good time for me to note that the FTC Funeral Rule has never required funeral providers to post their prices on their websites or send them by email. The Rule does requires that written price lists must be given to anyone who inquires in person at the funeral home or who asks for prices over the phone.

FCA/CFA summarize the results of their survey as follows: only 38 of the 150 funeral homes selected (25%) fully disclosed prices on their websites. And 24 funeral homes (16%) did not disclose prices on their websites or in response to email or a phone call. Also, the prices that were disclosed indicate a wide variety of prices for similar goods among various funeral homes. These results were labeled as “bad news” by FCA/CFA and the news media followed this lead unquestioningly.

But like little Johnny, I can read. So I went to the FCA website (I didn’t check to see if they post their prices) to examine the raw data or whatever details they chose to provide inquiring minds. A separate document was helpfully provided for each of the ten cities surveyed. These are the results that I found: of the 150 funeral homes, 134 gave the price information requested – even though they were not legally required to do so. In fact, five of the ten cities had 100% compliance with the requested information. Of the remaining five cities, 16 of the 75 funeral homes provided none of the requested price data. I realize that FCA/CFA claimed the number to be 24, not 16, but examining the individual city data, I only counted 16. I’m willing to be corrected but this is what I found.

No survey is perfect and one can nitpick if so inclined. I prefer to examine the details to discover if there’s a built-in bias or simply an ax to grind by the survey takers. I found it in the FCA/CFA survey. For each city, a chart was listed with four subsections. All listed at the top “Total Funeral Homes Surveyed 15.” The four subsections are: Number who put their complete General Price List and consumer disclosures on their site; Number that provided a price list by email after an email request; Number that provided a complete price list only after a phone call; and finally, Number that did not provide any price information.

It was this last section where I derived the 16 funeral homes that provided no info. I don’t know how they got 24. Now for the bias: for the five cities where there was a 100% response rate in one of the three subsections, the fourth – Number that did not provide any price information – was omitted. Of course, for consistency this fourth subsection should have been listed and the number “0” been assigned. The fact that this data was dropped suggests bias. The downside of reporting survey results is that if you’re intellectually honest you have to report all the results, not just the stuff that supports your position.

If this survey was commissioned by ICCFA, I like to think that everything would have been reported. Of course, our headline would be: 75% of funeral homes provide price information they are not required to give out. But just as history is written by the victors, survey results are reported by those who commission them.

The real surprise for me is the FCA/CFA complaining about the wide variety in pricing. They measured prices in three areas: direct cremation, immediate burial, and full funeral. The high and low price points in each city were thousands of dollars apart. To most people this indicates vigorous price competition but consumer advocates see this as confusing and therefore bad for the public. I wonder what they would say if all the prices were similar. Of course we know what they would say: Price fixing! Sometimes you just can’t win.

More troubling is the way pricing is shoehorned into three categories. A direct cremation will include different things with different providers; same with direct burial and full funerals. The survey pretends to compare apples but they are mixing apples and oranges together. This is not unlike assigning automobile prices to compact, midsize, full size. Most folks know enough about cars to spot the flawed methodology here. Speaking about cars, I’ve checked local car dealers and I can’t find any that post their prices on their websites. I don’t believe they are being deceptive or sneaky. They likely want me to come in and see what they’re selling, take a drive in the models, and experience the value of each car. Then the prices can be considered in context. But when a group’s agenda is to say that funerals cost too much, shorn of any value proposition, then the disclosure or non-disclosure of prices becomes a moot point.

The bottom line of the FCA/CFA survey is to call on the Federal Trade Commission to require funeral providers to post their prices on their websites, and to send them by email on request. This move would require amending the Funeral Rule, which is currently scheduled for review in three years. FCA/CFA points to California law as a precedent for requiring the posting of funeral prices on websites. But it seems that California doesn’t actually require this. Perhaps the real question is regardless of government mandates, should funeral providers post their prices on the Internet? This where forces in the market place will provide changes better than any government regulation can. If the competitors of a funeral home are posting their prices, you can bet that the mortuary in question will soon follow suit.

ICCFA 2016 Booth Application Reminder 11.4.2015

Rick Platter's picture

The ICCFA 2016 Annual Convention & Expo will be held in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center April 13-16, 2016 and the host hotel will be the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Click this link to download the Exhibitor Prospectus/Booth Application. Submit your booth application before the 1st deadline date of 11/25/2015 so you will be among the 1st group of exhibitors to get assigned to your booth space.

Cultivation vs Stewardship – The Real Profit Builder

datadale's picture

Business professionals continue to discover that they can generate more value for their business by moving up the value chain – and offering additional services that give them the edge over the competition.

There are 2 pieces to this puzzle.

  • Cultivation – What value converts prospects to customers?
  • Stewardship – What value-added can you offer that keeps current customers coming back for more? or referring you others?

Many businesses find that adding certain services generates profit. Accounting firms offer investment services to their tax customers; Insurance agents offer financial planning; Home remodelers offer interior design services; Real Estate companies offer professional staging; The Death Care Industry offers services for pets, friends.

Each of these services provides value to the consumer. Each of these services can become a new profit center. I’m not just talking about a value offer on a direct marketing mailer – we are moving far beyond the offer into creating a profit center that people will pay for because they perceive the value of what you are offering.

Much of this has to do with trust and relationship.

If your client trusts you, they will be willing to listen to something new you are offering. If your new service has value, they will pay you for it, rather than going elsewhere. When we talk about enhancing the lifetime value of a customer, that’s the real profit builder!

A "Happy" Death, a "Happy" Funeral

Bob Fells's picture

A “Happy” Death, a “Happy” Funeral

I don’t know if there can be such a thing as a happy death or, for that matter, a happy funeral. It sounds like a contradiction in terms but if there are such things, then my Uncle Ernie surely had them when he passed away on September 2. I called him Uncle Ernie but he was really my uncle-in-law, if there is such a term. Ernie was Maureen’s uncle, married to her mother’s sister. I’ve known Uncle Ernie for as long as I’ve known Maureen, that is, for 45 years. He and Fran had been married for 61 years and had five children, all of whom were present at the end. Ernie was not important in the worldly sense but he worked hard to provide for his family and had a ton of friends. I used to wonder how he had so many friends wherever he went. After all, Ernie wasn’t a celebrity or wealthy, he didn’t even have a boat or any of the things that usually assure a steady stream of friends. Then one day I figured it out. Ernie had so many friends because he made a point of making a friend out of everyone he met. It was that simple.

He remained healthy until the last couple of years. He fell and broke his hip and that seemed to begin his health problems. Then his kidneys began to fail and he required dialysis a couple of times each week. But his mind remained as sharp as the proverbial tack right up to his last day on earth. Maureen and I visited him in early August when we were on vacation. By then he was in the hospital but he was game for the fight for life. He was not going to give up the ghost willingly. But he was 85 and nature was bound to take its course sooner or later. Finally, his condition became such that his doctor told him that if he continued dialysis the strain could cause a fatal heart attack. So that was that and Ernie announced that all he wanted now was to go home. He meant that both in the physical sense of returning to his house where he lived with Fran, and also in the spiritual sense.

So with all his family gathered around him at home he received many visitors on what turned out to be his last full day on earth. It seemed like “a living wake” in that people stopping by to pay their respects did not see a corpse in a casket but a man sitting in an easy chair saying goodbye to each person. We spoke to him on the phone that night. He told us that he was having “a going away party.” His voice was strong and his mind sharp. The last words he said to me were, “I love you Bob.” I’ll remember those words for the rest of my life. The next afternoon he slipped away in his sleep with his family gathered around his bed and Fran holding his hands. It’s the sort of death scene we see in movies and wish for ourselves.

Of course, there was a funeral service at the local funeral home. The family didn’t need any assistance from me and in fact one of Ernie’s son-in-law’s had worked at several funeral homes. Ernie had asked him to “check him out” before the family arrived for the viewing. He said that if he didn’t look good the casket should be closed. It turned out that Ernie not only looked as if he were sleeping, he seemed to have a slight smile on his face. Everyone noticed that. There were two visitation times and we stayed for both. A steady stream of friends constantly circulated in and out of the room. There was an Honor Guard from the Knights of Columbus, and because Ernie was active in his church, the deacon who led the prayer service had known Ernie for years. As you sow so shall you reap.

A funeral mass followed the next day and then our cars processed to the nearby national cemetery for burial. We had a police escort both from the funeral home to the church, then from the church to the cemetery. We were the last car and it was the only time in my life that the sight of a police cruiser with flashing lights and sirens in my rearview mirror did not send chills up my spine. Every part of the service from the visitation through the committal service was meaningful for all who attended. If I had to eliminate one part I wouldn’t know what to choose because each had its own special significance. Given where I work and what I do for a living, this may sound like pandering of the most obvious sort. But my presence at Ernie’s funeral was not in any official capacity. I was family and mourning (and how rarely we hear that term any more) the loss of dear man and friend. If I wasn’t impressed I’d keep my mouth shut in this space.

Afterwards, I observed to Maureen that what we had just been through the previous two days was so emotional, that is, meaningful and significant, that I could not understand how anybody could want no services, no interment, or no memorialization. It’s like wanting all signs of your existence to be wiped off the face of the earth. No doubt, there are some terrible people, abusive people, and when they perish everyone who knew them says, “Thank God he’s dead.” But I think, or rather I hope, this accounts for a very small number of individuals. I like to believe that most people are mourned when they pass, even if it’s just by a small circle of family and friends.

I believe that in the last 20 years many people have lost sight of a concept that for centuries was so obvious that it was mainly unspoken. That concept is that “funerals are for the living.” I have personally spoken with people who authorized a direct disposition for their mom or dad because that’s what their parents said they wanted. But these people came away emotionally dissatisfied and unfulfilled, even expressing regret that they followed their parent’s wishes. In a sense, this is like going to a restaurant to discover that your dinner has been selected for you and you have no say in the matter. Even if it’s paid for, you don’t like this arrangement. Worse, the person who ordered your dinner isn’t even present.

Current survey data from Pew Research indicates that individuals who say they have no religious affiliation has climbed to almost 25 percent of the population. There also seems to be a correlation between “unchurched” people and their preference for direct disposition. Our industry sees a ray of sunshine in that data with celebrants organizing a “no religion” funeral service but I suspect that the jury is still out on whether the growing number of unchurched folks will ultimately opt for celebrant services in significant numbers. I hope so and not just because it’s good for business. It may be significant that the survey firms label such people as “nones” and indeed that’s what they will have – nothing. I am looking forward to the time when the nones tell their families that they want nothing and the family responds by saying, “Sorry but this is our funeral service, and you’re just the reason for it.”