Should You Advertise During COVID-19?


By Leader Contributor Glenn Gould, CEO of MKJ Marketing

Being recognized represents a challenge for bank robbers, which is why they wear masks. Of course, wearing a mask has drawbacks, as it’s typically a clue that you are up to no good — unless you’re living during a pandemic when everyone is wearing a mask. 

The point is: Within every situation, no matter how dire, there is an opportunity; you just have to find it.

Americans are practicing social distancing by staying inside their homes. Meanwhile, the daily count of infections and deaths is reported on all news media outlets; it’s impossible to escape. We in the deathcare industry know from years and years of experience that the death of a friend, family member, or even a neighbor causes people to consider their own mortality and to begin planning ahead for their eventual demise; in other words, they begin considering preneed.

While all of this is occurring, they are consuming more media than ever before. Google searches and television viewership are up; reported as much as 42%. This is likely the best market to advertise funeral preplanning ever, and contrary to what many practitioners might believe, the consumer will welcome the availability of preneed information. Obviously, home presentations are out — it’s not safe nor is it welcomed — but consumers are ordering groceries and hardware products from local grocers and stores, and internet retailers are enjoying incredible success on everything from toilet paper to puzzles and games. As such, consumers will want to request materials, including planning ahead brochures, and begin recording their wishes. 

If ever a cemetery would want to consider television advertising, it is now. Cemeteries are traditionally dependent upon salespeople and walk-ins for leads; neither of which are particularly productive right now. Because the quarantine has resulted in families not being able to properly celebrate the lives of coronavirus victims, the situation is actually enhancing the value of personalization and memorialization. Instead of the virus enhancing the value of cremation, it is more likely consumers will come out of this experience desiring traditional services.

During every recession, articles appear espousing the value of advertising at a time when others are withdrawing their ads to reduce costs. Certainly, some businesses have no choice when their cash flow is restricted, but if businesses have the option to advertise during recessions, the immediate sales results, as well as the sales, immediately following the recession more than justify the expense.

Here are 10 reasons why you should continue advertising during COVID-19:

1. This is a period, or we are entering a period, of increased demand.

2. Consumers need to be reminded of the value of services and ceremonies as their own mortality is threatened.

3. Consumers are not certain which businesses are open.

4. Consumers are not aware of all the ways funeral homes can serve them during this period; they are not familiar with livestreaming, drive-through visitations, and restricted services.

5. Migration has been very high during the past decade as people have relocated for employment. They have most likely never used a funeral home in their new community, so they are not familiar with the local funeral homes.

6. It is very likely some funeral businesses will not survive the coming recession; advertising communicates availability and a viable business.

7. Advertising is more effective now than ever as many funeral businesses are experiencing financial challenges and have pulled their advertising.

8. This is a wonderful opportunity to create future business with families you have not served in the past.

9. Family members are discussing deathcare because it is now a common story in the news. In fact, the public’s perception of deathcare workers, along with healthcare workers, is elevating.

10. No one knows what funeral business will be like following the pandemic, but families will continue to need deathcare services. Advertising now will identify your firm as a leader in the community.

As we sit on the brink of a recession, it is the contrarian that prospers; stock and real estate are both valued, quality associates that may not have been available during an economic expansion may be very pleased to hear from you during a recession. The opportunity to grow market share is also real, as many of your competitors will be compelled to withdraw from advertising and marketing due to cash flow. Using advertising mediums that your competitors are not engaging in always proves to be the most effective.

Want to learn more about advertising options for your firm, specifically during COVID-19? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at MKJ Marketing for more information.

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