By Leader Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller
Erin Williamson is a vice president at Altmeyer Funeral Homes & Crematory, which now operates more than 40 funeral and cremation businesses across the East Coast.
I recently spoke with Williamson at MKJ’s Elite Cremation E-Commerce Mastermind Event in Nashville. He shared his thoughts on how preneed has changed over the years – how it’s become much more complicated and where it’s heading next.
“Reaching our client has changed. At one point in time, it was a matter of dropping a direct mail campaign. The leads poured in, the counselors called the leads, you set the appointments, you made the presentations, and it was very easy,” Williamson said.
Despite the changes in how today’s digital-first consumers receive information, Williamson has no doubts that families still want to preplan.
“We know that the people are still out there. We know that people believe in the value of preplanning. We know that they know it’s a great idea, but we have to find them a little differently. Direct mail doesn’t have the reach that it used to have,” he said.
Williamson and his team have a multi-pronged approach to reaching potential preneed clients.
“People, in general, in society, expect service providers to have a higher level of engagement in order to reach them, so we have to do things like getting involved in our community. We have to run active preneed programs. We have to run social media marketing programs. We have to engage with people in the community through lunch and learns and community awareness programs,” he said.
Williamson said this also includes running aftercare programs – not just to promote preneed – but programs that actually provide value for families who have experienced the death of a loved one.
Treasured Memories works alongside funeral homes across the country to help them succeed.
“Because we are also in the funeral business, we don’t stand beside funeral service and say, ‘This is how we think you should do it.’ We’re in funeral service, so we have a great beta testing site. We’re able to try things in our own funeral homes and see what works, see what doesn’t work,” Williamson said.
The Treasured Memories team is willing to take chances and experiment to determine what will help their members the best. Embracing change is part of their company culture.
“We are definitely always looking for the next best way to do something. We are very focused on best practices and really making sure that when a product is delivered to our Treasured Memories clients that it is tried and true,” he said.
MKJ Marketing provides social media services for Treasured Memories members.