by Glenn Gould

As cities and states re-open, we at MKJ Marketing are here to advise you on how best to position your funeral home, cemetery, or cremation business. Each of our owners and marketing advisors are sharing their insights in this Restart Series, answering questions we are hearing as we speak with clients each day. This is Part 3 in MKJ’s Restart Series; click here to read Part 1, click here to read Part 2. 

Join us for MKJ’s free virtual presentation, Getting the Restart Right, on June 16 at 2 p.m. EST. Register here: https://www.mkjmarketing.com/virtual-presentation/

MKJ’s marketing experts are also offering free consultations with a Restart Plan. Schedule a call with an expert here: https://www.mkjmarketing.com/mkj-schedule-a-call/

2020 is positioning itself to be a disastrous year of biblical proportions with a pandemic, riots, locusts and a severe hurricane season all during an election year. Don’t ask what else could happen—it’s still early—there’s plenty of time for something worse. Every industry has been affected. And while some are doing well in this environment, most are not.

These factors have had a direct impact on all media, but none so unique as television. Perhaps for the first time in U.S. history, television viewership during the summer months is at an all-time high. According to data released in May from Comcast, Americans are actually watching so much more TV that weekday and weekend viewing habits are blurring together. In early March 2020, the average household watched 57 hours of content per week; now, it’s up to 66 hours a week.

Typically, viewership declines during the hot months as pleasant weather keeps families outside in the evenings. They take vacations, go to outdoor concerts, baseball games, and swimming pools, which is why summer was always referred to as the “rerun season.”  This summer season is different; there are still reruns and several pilots for new shows, but television viewership is higher than peak season. Some estimates place viewership as much as 42% higher than normal.

But just as funeral homes don’t make money just because someone dies, cable and broadcast networks don’t make money when people watch television. Instead, they generate income from advertisers.

The problem is there are no advertisers. Many businesses that would have been buying broadcast and cable advertising time are either attempting to open their businesses following the shutdown, or they’ve been forced to permanently close their doors. In either case, they are not advertising. Broadcast and cable networks derive all of their income from advertisers. Cable providers sell subscription services for cable television access, WIFI, and phone services. The point being the networks need advertisers, and they will drop their rates until the supply meets the demand. This is better than a clearance sale; it’s more like receiving a stimulus check from the cable companies.

All of these factors combined to create an unprecedented buying opportunity for businesses that can advertise. MKJ Marketing is finding per spot costs discounted as much as 80% in an effort to attract advertisers, both current and new.

This is a boon for funeral homes, cemeteries, and cremation businesses that have so many issues they should be advertising during this time. Consumers are confused. They don’t know if their loved ones can be buried. They don’t know if they can have a service. They don’t know whether national and veteran cemeteries, churches, restaurants, or reception facilities are open. Few consumers were interested in livestreaming services before the shutdown, nor did they wonder much about making virtual arrangements via Zoom—but they are thinking about these things now. Providing livestreaming and virtual arrangements will be factors consumers will use to differentiate funeral homes.

The cremation rate increased during the shutdown even in markets with historically lower cremation rates. Many firms with traditional, burial business are having the same experience many firms nationally have had over the past 20 years; how will they generate the profits they’ve enjoyed from burial business from cremation? The first challenge is to get those families in the funeral home; we cannot present the value of our services unless they contact the firm. As such, you need to convince the public that your firm is the best value for cremation services as well as burial.  This is accomplished through advertising.

MKJ Marketing is offering special reduced pricing on selected “Services” television advertisements for this purpose. Select any one advertisement for $4,500 or any three for $11,500 from our featured “Services” advertisements. Go to https://www.mkjmarketing.com/show-your-services/ to view. There are topics on funeral, cemetery, veterans, livestreaming and online services, local ownership, and much more.

Whether your firm has ever invested in advertising in the past, now is possibly the best time in your working career to begin. Viewership is high, rates are low and there are fewer advertisers which means there is less competition for the viewers’ attention, making it easier to make a lasting impression.