High-Impact Ways to Connect with Your Community

By: By Aemelia Tripp
Tuesday, November 22, 2022

How do you set your funeral home apart and build strong connections with potential and current client families? The secret is a carefully planned series of community engagement and outreach efforts. When people hear your firm’s name, you want their perception of your brand to be based on positive associations and meaningful relationships.

Those perceptions are even more important than you may realize. In a 2021 survey of Homesteaders Life Company policy owners published in our Preneed Motivators report, we asked respondents how many funeral homes they considered before choosing one to make their arrangements. Nearly 75% of them indicated they considered just one funeral home. If most people in your community would only consider one funeral home, would yours be the one they chose? 

Your approach to building relationships through community outreach will depend on the needs of your community and the goals of your funeral home business. This often means being present for important moments in the community to show support and nurture connections. 

For example, the team at Haisley Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Florida are heavily involved in events through a variety of local groups and charitable organizations. The Haisley family and their staff serve as Little League coaches, read for Dr. Seuss’s birthday at the elementary schools, help students complete 4-H projects at the local fair, meet new business owners and offer their support and much more. 

“It brings us so much joy and we get to show that we’re not just about funerals and sadness,” shared B. Quinn Haisley-Wheeler, Director of Funeral Service Operations/Pet Services at Haisley Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

Whether you’re already active in your community or wanting to build a stronger approach to outreach, we’ve put together a list of ideas you can use to encourage community involvement. As you read through this list, consider the needs of your service area and how these efforts could play a role in sharing the value of your services while demonstrating your support for the community.

Book Club 
Reading a book and discussing it as a group can help people bond over a shared activity. It’s a perfect opportunity for your client families to come together and share moments of grief and healing and make connections along the way.

A book I’m currently reading is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. The book dives into the journey of Didion’s grief and mourning after the sudden loss of her husband and her daughter’s declining health. She details memories that randomly resurface and discusses her seemingly strange newfound desires, such as saving her husband’s shoes because she thinks he will need them when he comes back. She gives the reader a look into how she processes the death of her husband and comes to terms with the fact that he’s gone. It is a raw and rare view into grief that was published only a year and a half after Didion’s husband passed.

Reading books like Didion’s with members of your community gives them a safe place to discuss uncomfortable topics like grief and loss while helping you build connections with them.

Movie Event

Consider hosting a movie event at a local theater and treating members of your community to an enjoyable experience. For example, you can tailor the event to meet the needs and interests of your community, such as screening a documentary for Veterans like The Unknowns, which details the service of the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

You could also host a themed movie night at the theater or in your funeral home to coincide with a major holiday. If you are hosting your own movie event, just make sure you research the rights to show the movie and think through some of the hospitality logistics like snacks and drinks. You should also plan to greet attendees at the beginning of the event and share a little bit about your funeral home.

Cemetery/Historical Tour

Host a tour at your local cemetery, pointing out memorials of historical and local interest. Depending on your location, you might consider providing transportation and hosting a reception at your funeral home with refreshments after the tour. You can even partner with your local historical society to share more details about relevant monuments and memorials. Consider encouraging participants to post to their social media about their experience using a hashtag related to either your funeral home or the event. 

If a group tour doesn’t work for you, another option is to hire a local artist to create a printable illustrated map of significant memorials, so community members can print it off and have their own self-guided tour. Make sure your logo, website, social accounts and phone number appear on the map so participants can easily contact you, then share it to your website and social pages and offer it to city officials to place on their website.

Team-Building Fundraiser

Partner with a local restaurant for a team-building fundraiser during which you and your staff help serve customers, with any tips and/or a percentage of the proceeds you make going to a worthy charitable cause or organization in your community. Don’t forget to advertise before the event on your social media and through the restaurant! Consider making signs to display in the restaurant to let customers know about the event and wear branded shirts or pins so your team is easily recognizable. This is a great way to show how service-oriented your staff is while building connections in the community. 

Floral Arrangement Workshop

Hire a local florist to teach a floral arrangement workshop for members of your community. Participants can pick their desired flowers and greenery, and the florist can show them the principles of creating a gorgeous arrangement. Be sure to bring marketing materials about your funeral home and preneed services to display and share. You could even discuss opportunities to offer floral arrangement discounts for event participants. 

Candlelight Memorial Service

Partner with a local church to host a candlelight memorial service for people who have lost loved ones in the last year. This could happen around the winter holidays or another special day. Encourage participants to bring a framed picture of their loved ones, and place all the pictures at the front of the room. The service could include poetry or scripture readings, songs and a moment of silence when all the candles are lit.

After the service, host a reception of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments at the church or local restaurant. Visit the Homesteaders Blog (homesteaderslife.com/blog) for more examples of memorial service events funeral homes have hosted throughout the year as well as a list of significant holiday dates.

Giving Tree

Around the winter holidays, partner with an organization in your town and hang paper ornaments on a tree in your funeral home. On each ornament, write or print the name of an item that is requested by the organization to help families in need. Invite participants to take an ornament and bring it back with the wrapped gift. You may also consider collecting monetary donations for the organization and offering to match any that are made. 

Genealogy Workshop

Partner with your local historical society to host a genealogy event where participants can research their relatives in old local newspapers or other genealogy databases. Give participants the option of printing off their family tree at the end of the workshop and taking it home with them as a keepsake. Consider having your staff go through the exercise in advance so they can share a bit about their own experience with attendees. 

Community Funding

Consider partnering with a vendor like Treasured Memories Community Funding to do a virtual fundraiser for a cause or family in need in your community. You can set up the fundraiser online, then share it through your website and social pages. You may also want to offer to match all donations. 

Promoting Your Event and Funeral Home

Whatever you choose for your community event, make sure to promote it on many different channels. This can include your funeral home social media pages, your email newsletter, local media outlets, community groups and your local Chamber of Commerce. 

Consider using a combination of paid advertising (such as newspaper ads, radio and/or direct mail) and earned or owned media (such as press releases, blog posts and social media announcements). Don’t forget to order brochures and business cards to hand out at the event.

It’s also important to collect participants’ email when they register for your free event as well as follow up with attendees after the event to thank them for coming, ask for feedback and provide information about your preneed services. 

I hope you gathered some ideas from this list, and maybe it even spurred you to think of some new ones! For even more insights that can help you plan community outreach activities, download Homesteaders’ exclusive Preneed Motivators research report at homesteaderslife.com/motivators.

Aemelia Tripp is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Homesteaders Life Company. She has a passion for writing essays and articles, loves caring for her many house plants and enjoyed playing local and indie tunes as a community radio host in a previous life in Michigan. Aemelia now resides in Iowa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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