By Leader Contributor Glenn Gould, CEO of MKJ Marketing

As we look for a pathway out of the global COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear: This situation requires collective action and meaningful collaboration.

In a time when many are facing daunting situations — from essential workers who need personal protective equipment to those trying to stave off feelings of isolation at home — some brands have chosen to meet these challenges with empathy and care for their communities and consumers’ immediate needs. 

Research has shown that consumers care about companies that support the causes that matter to them. Pre-pandemic, 74% ofU.S. millennials said they were more likely to buy from brands that support the social issues they care about. For funeral businesses, this makes things simple. Rarely is there one cause that resonates so deeply with so many at once. The businesses that address this common challenge with purpose will ensure they not only survive but will build their brand and grow loyalty over the long term.

However, keep in mind that our advertising cannot appear to be ignorant of everyone’s challenges. For example, now is not the right time to advertise your reception room since families currently cannot gather together in large groups. To resonate with consumers, funeral homes need to address local consumers’ needs and connect with them authentically. While brands can’t always count on public praise from their customers, this is an opportunity to communicate empathetic messages that demonstrate your involvement in the community. There are some consistent themes that demonstrate how your business can make meaningful contributions with the purpose of advancing the common good. 

Put safety first

In an age of telehealth and delayed non-essential medical care, consumers are fighting to keep their families safe. It’s important to focus on maintaining hygiene within your facilities.

I say this knowing funeral homes have always held hygiene as a top priority, but it was never something we felt needed to be advertised before. 

How you communicate the message is important too. Claiming to “kill germs and bacteria in a natural way” is just as important as claiming to “kill germs in an effective way.”

Flex your services to meet new opportunities

This isn’t about changing your brand’s purpose or mission but pivoting or expanding your day-to-day work to become more effective in meeting your consumers’ needs. This could be the launching point for green funerals and burial, as many families that would have chosen cremation had to opt for burial due to the crematory backlogs in many major cities. Perhaps next time they will consider a green burial alternative instead. This crisis is also a reminder that sustainability is not just about what goes into your product but also how it’s made and what happens after a consumer is done with it.

Look to alleviate the strain

Seemingly overnight, this pandemic has confronted people with new challenges — ranging from small inconveniences to life-threatening situations. Companies can reduce the strain by thinking creatively about how to chip in to alleviate the burden. Every family needs masks, gloves, and other PPE. What a wonderful opportunity for a funeral business to coordinate local efforts to distribute these products to families in need.

Help connect consumers who want to pitch in with finding opportunities that can make a difference. There are many in need of support during this time. This could be anything from donating to your local food banks to collecting diapers for babies to encouraging community members to show their support for overworked and exhausted healthcare workers. Utilize your long-standing community connections to grow your local brand.

Put your employees first

Over the past few weeks, communities everywhere have seen record spikes in unemployment. Even as governments move to support their constituents, it’s local businesses that may make the biggest impact on an individual’s life. Companies that that act with empathy who go above and beyond to keep their employees safe will build brand loyalists for life. Data has consistently shown that consumers want to support companies that prioritize fair wages and other socially responsible attributes that positively impact their employees — who are ultimately the power behind the brands they love.

Where do we go from here?

This pandemic will test many businesses, and whether or not they react in a socially responsible way will have meaningful implications — not just on their own businesses but on how we rebuild our communities. Businesses can position themselves both as supportive of consumers in the near-term crisis, while also acting as a bridge into whatever comes next, growing their bonds over time. 

MKJ Marketing has a variety of resources to help funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries through this difficult time. Click here to learn more about all the services we have to offer. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our marketing team at any time.

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