Proper Cemetery Advertising

Date Published: 
August, 1908
Original Author: 
J. R. Gaudin
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Convention

Before discussing the kinds of advertising that are most appropriate for cemeteries, it is well that I first impress upon you the necessity of same. We all know that the mind is the intellectual faculty in a man that conceives, judges and reasons before there is an action of any part of the body. No matter how ridiculous the message to the mind may be, they necessitate immediate thought and there is a tendency to comply with your thoughts, though they may be repressed by the contradictory. As an illustration, should I ask you to "stand up" how well does the mind know the parts of the body to command to move? You can almost imagine yourself standing and should there not have been rival thoughts, their action would have been the result.

Suppose you reflect back just for a minute to some calamity or accident; now any sweet music, or song you have heard, now beautiful sights seen. Did you remember first something horrible; then the sounds of charming music; then some vivid picture, whether it may be of someone you admire or some beautiful scenery? These are the results of some impression upon the mind in the past. You know your present thoughts, whether they be upon my subject or on other objects that may attract you and you remember former impressions upon your mind, therefore, I want to impress upon you vividly, that the mind is the controlling factor of the body, and that the sole purpose of all advertising is to impress upon the people's minds that you have something to sell, and it is your desire to control their actions by purchasing from you. The sooner you realize it is the minds of the people you desire to control and plan to accomplish this, the better for your sales account.

As there are two methods of reaching one's mind, both by verbal and written expressions, it may be also applied as the two classes of advertising:

Verbal Advertising

You may be a good conversationalist, yet, if you spend an entire day telling of the beauty and advantages of your cemetery, only a very small per cent of the people would be reached and you cannot get in touch with them by staying in your office or cemetery, therefore, proper verbal advertising would necessitate house-to-house canvassing and this method of selling lots is a position we do not relish. I have only heard of a very few attempting this task and if you cannot realize it being a hard proposition, suppose you try it yourself, just for the experience?

Most people will not talk about buying a cemetery lot with you, and they look upon a purchase with as much horror as you would should an undertaker try to sell you a casket for yourself; yet, you should realize, more so than men in other professions, the certainty of death, as you are constantly attending funerals.

To those who think a well-kept cemetery is their best advertisement, I want to ask them what percent of the people in your city visit your cemetery each day? Are not the majority of those lot owners who do visit? Do you realize that most people are superstitious about visiting cemeteries, and even though you may have an attractive one, people may not know this, because they do not care to visit it.

In many cities, where permits for visitors are required, people who would like to visit your cemetery are deprived of seeing it and if those who do see same were pleased with its beauty, a lasting impression would be made upon them, hence, the necessity of well-kept grounds. A well-pleased purchaser is no doubt a valuable assistant, but do you advertise a friend in business and why should you expect others to do this for you? While if may be true, enthusiastic owners may be willing to recommend your cemetery, but unless people ask them for their opinion, they feel a delicacy in suggesting, because, they would think their neighbor used their own judgment in selecting a house for the living, and why not they exercise the same right while purchasing lots for their dead?

A testimonial, even though spread by accomplices, may never reach the parties desired. The average lot owner, however, does not take the interest in your cemetery to spread forth its advantages nor should we expect them to do so.

Verbal advertising has been the only kind used in a few successful ones, yet this method is bound to be limited, regardless of how efficient a cemetery may be kept, or the popularity of officers.

I have endeavored to show how good results may have been obtained by many, and suggested ideas which may be used to an advantage, but while verbal advertising may assist, yet, it does not reach the masses.

Written Advertising

Man has characters and letters which represent sounds, and when seen by the eye, they are quickly pictured to the mind and an impression is made, as previously explained by the sounds in verbal expressions. Suppose you read an advertisement, "Telephone Jones when you need ice;" now, I do not say that the advertisement would compel you to buy ice from Jones, but when yon read same, you knew that Jones did sell ice, but maybe you preferred purchasing from someone else, yet, some day when you are in a hurry and want ice, you may phone Jones, then, his advertising has produced results. The mind forms habits of thought, and when once established they are controlling factors of our actions; just the same in the purchase of a cemetery lot, as to you and the ice man.

I once read an advertisement of Franklin Murphy & Co., which stated "pure varnish is death to the beauty of anything." While this may be true, still, the advertisement was inexplicit and it leaves you in doubt. Are they the agents of manufacturers? Is their varnish the best or poorest? What brand must I ask for to get theirs? Where is it sold? In order that you may avoid this, write your advertisements explicit1y.

Because you may not care to write advertisements yourself, should not exclude your home advertising; why not employ one who can; especially when you have anything of importance to get out? Should you decide to build a home, you may draw the plan yourself, but likely you realize that an architect could do better; if so, why not employ an experienced advertisement writer?

The eye is like a photographer's camera and when focused at any particular object, other things seem to be blurred and indistinct. The power to attract attention depends upon the sensation or impression made, therefore, novel, artistic advertising and those constantly changed are noticed more than those of gradual changes, or still less are those of the same wording, there being no necessity of doing this, yet, continual advertising is a recommendation for anything, as they must have merit, otherwise, it would not sell.

A child is interested in an often repeated tale and it is well that you occasionally repeat former advertisements, as impressions made gradually diminish unless repetition is made, hence, the necessity of continual advertising, lest the light impressions made are not lost. As these impressions upon the mind are only natural and should you desire to produce them upon the people of your city, the advertiser must not expect to "take the town by storm" within a short time, but realize "he is going against nature" for it may take a year to show results.

Though your cemetery may change the wording of your ads at each issue, yet, it is a splendid idea, to have some characteristic feature in them, whether it may be a special border, monogram, signature, picture, motto, special type, or engraving of your cemetery's name. Do you remember the jolly smile of the Cream of Wheat chef, Forces Sunn'y Jim, Fairbank's Gold Dust Twins, the signature of Coca-Cola, and the monogram of R. J. R. tobacco? Though the advertisements of these articles may contain different wording in each issue, yet, as soon as you see these familiar features you know what they advertise. You know of these articles, yet, you never purchase them and for this reason you should continually advertise if you want to make the same impression upon the minds of the people in your home city that these well-advertised articles have made upon you.

The best way to reach the people is through the newspapers, and should you not run a daily advertisement, at least run them once a week, in Saturday or Sunday's issue. Local papers are eagerly sought and read, not only by subscribers, but by each one in a home, therefore, home papers, or those having a circulation in your district are preferable.

Write your advertisement as though the public had never heard of your cemetery, for while they do not care for its history, they will lead of its advantages, and some day when they have to purchase, they think of the features made known through the press.

Have a photographer take pictures of the pretty spots of your cemetery and have cuts made and by using them with two-column display advertisements, they are attractive to the eye, and are as necessary for you as to merchants, who have show windows, and signs.

If your cemetery is new and has few suitable views, have a photographer take pictures of places to be improved and later, take another at the same places, so as to show the contrast, as both views showing before and after improvements will show you are progressive.

To those who do not desire display advertisements, the one column line reading notices may be properly worded and appear as news items. Write upon one particular advantage at a time, suppose you first tell of the approach and macadamized roads which lead to the beautiful resting place.

2nd - Impress the people that your location is ideal, that it is away from the manufacturing district and that its distance is an advantage, because of the rapid growth of most cities.
3rd - Having streetcar connection and funeral cars can be secured.
4th - The size of your lots and terms of sale.
5th - Single graves of men of small means.
6th – Trees, shrubbery planted to beautify.
7th - Advantages of lawn plan.
8th - Uniform appearance of each section.
9th - Grass mowed on all lots free, none neglected.
10th - Deeds given same as other real estate.
11th - Beautiful flower beds and designs which are attractive.
12th - The subsoil does not easily absorb, or hold water and free from rocks.
13th - All lots perfectly drained.
14th - Attendants furnished at each funeral.
15th - Shelter tents furnished during inclement weather.
16th - Natural drainage, and pipes placed.
17th - Estimate the cost if owners had to care for their lots as in olden days for a period of ten years.
18th - Police protection and watchmen.
19th - Superintendent's, watchman's or foreman's residence within the grounds.
20th - Accurate and permanent records kept, giving number and location of every grave.
21st - Chapel for use of families not having sufficient room for services at their homes.
22nd - Non-sectarian, every creed welcome.
23rd - Not run under old assessment plan.
24th - Perpetual care a blessing to all.
25th – Satisfaction of having your lot cared for even though you go away.
26th - How you guarantee future care.
27th - Amount of endowment and perpetual care funds.
28th - How revenue from investments will be controlled and spent.
29th - Percent of sales you are reserving for future care.
30th - Is your cemetery controlled by politicians, or do you select a force of men of ability instead of a pull?
31st - Do lot owners cooperate and do they meet or elect trustees.
32nd - When new sections are placed on the market.
33rd - Future contemplated improvements.
34th - Modern receiving vaults.
35th - The amount of capital stock which is a guarantee that your cemetery is on a business basis and has sufficient financial backing.
37th - State your acreage which you think is sufficient to guarantee its permanency many years.
38th - Number of interments which is a proof of its popularity.
39th - Having a fair and square policy to all and no favorites either among rich or poor.
40th - Modern plans having been drawn especially for the grounds following the contours.
41st - Lots accessible by walks and drives.
42nd - Describe entrance and gateway or other buildings.
43rd - Landscape work by assisting nature in improving the grounds.
44th - Location of office, whether at cemetery or in the city.
45th - Explain having telephone connections and information will be cheerfully given.
46th - Lakes and streams.
47th - Your mutual or cooperative plan.
48th - For interment of white people only.

I mentioned these features merely to give you an idea of the points that would be interesting to outsiders and it is for you to study your cemetery and its advantages, then you can write articles, as Webster says, "To give to the public notice of, or describe with a view of sale."
When we sell a lot or single grave, we keep a record of the relatives and add these to a list of prospective purchasers, and good results have been accomplished by selling them lots, as we constantly send circular letters, folders or booklets telling of Elmwood's advantages. Street car ads, when they have a view of your cemetery and tell what cars reach it, bring results.

Every cemetery should have rules and regulations printed, but they should not be sent as advertisements, as they are only intended for lot owners. Souvenir post cards and calendars are good and though booklets are expensive, they should be printed occasionally, but remember in your advertising try and keep your cemetery's advantages in the minds of the people.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Convention
Held at Kansas City, MO
August 11, 12 and 13, 1908