Thursday, March 06, 2008

Marketing Principles: Funeral Wants

Marketing principles: Funeral Wants

People buy what they want not what they need.

That is an important and powerful marketing principle. Yet it is one that many entrepreneurs get wrong because they are too busy deluding themselves with the myth of needs.

The marketing myth is that you should find a need and fill it. That is a delusion. Instead you should focus on wants.

People don’t buy what they need.

I have some clients in the funeral business. This business is a good example of one built on wants not needs. Who really needs anything that the funeral business offers? Yet they are a vital service – because people want what they offer.

I remember when my grandfather died. My dad and I visited the funeral to make arrangements. As we examined the caskets in the basement display-room my dad commented to me, “Well he didn’t have much when he lived so we might as well do something nice for him now.” Nice meant expensive funeral. Tell me the logic in that. What does that have to do with needs.

Wow – that statement floored me. My grandfather never had a real vacation in his life. Vacation for him meant travelling to the "old country" to visit relatives and deliver gifts. He came to Canada at the age of 48 after the second world war with nothing. He lost everything he owned in the war. He established a new life in the new world with his wife and son. He learned a new language. He worked in Canada as an unskilled labourer. He owned his own house. He died at age 79 without debt. He was an honest man who never complained.

And when he died my dad, his son, thought that he deserved a "nice" funeral.

The cost of a funeral is reported to be the third largest expenditure for the average person. The first two are house and car. The average cost of a funeral in North America is between $7,000 to $12,000. However that might be leaving some things out.

It can go much higher. The costs for a funeral might include the funeral home, cemetery, ceremony, printed materials, entertainment, hospitality and grave stone.

If you select cremation, the least expensive option, you still need to consider an urn, (cost $500 – $3,000) and maybe a storage niche.

The purpose of this article is not to question the need for the funeral service. I have clients and friends in the business. And I respect what they do. The purpose of this article is to point out to business owners that you should not depend on “need” to fuel your business. Instead focus on want and how you can market to the wants of your clients. Wants have more to to with emotional needs than real needs.

George Torok

Marketing Speaker

Marketing Consultant

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