Hosting events at your funeral home is a great way to build community and create a welcoming environment at your business.
Yet, unfortunately, thanks to the nature of the business, people tend to feel creeped out by a funeral home event…
Unless it’s done right.
When done right, in person events can serve as a chance for families to come together to grieve, learn something new, celebrate, or simply get to know one another and build stronger relationships, all thanks to your creative skills!
The best kind of funeral marketing is from the heart and centered around what you do best – serving the families you so deeply care about, and that’s exactly what events can be!
And trust us, if your event reflects your talent for creating a comfortable environment where people can come together, folks are certainly going to remember you the next time they need someone to turn to for funeral services.
From workshops to grief support groups, there are endless ways for you to connect with your community and create events that leave a lasting impression.
So how do you pull off this totally non-creepy and effective in person gathering at your funeral home? We’ve got 7 tips to set you on the path of event perfection:
1. Have a goal in mind
In all good plans, the first step is to clarify your vision. Who is this event for? What do you want the attendees to take away from your event? And what you would like to gain from the effort?
This helps narrow down your audience so the folks who arrive share common needs and interests. For example, people in grief are going to want a different kind of event than say, potential new client families. When people see they have common stories, they’ll feel less alone and more comfortable socializing with one another. Successful events create a relaxed environment where people can feel the power of community and shared experiences – including the experience you’re creating for them right now!
2. Create an event name and invitation that strikes curiosity and excitement
Now that you know who your ideal audience is, you can talk directly to them in the invitation. The event name and invite needs to reflect the shared goal of those who you’d like to attend, so they know this is definitely the place for them. Ask a question that helps identify their pain point which this gathering can help heal.
Say you’re hosting a support group specifically for parents who have lost a child. You could open your invitation with a question along the lines of, “Have you ever felt such incredible emotion as losing your child?” When they answer “yes,” they’ll identify as belonging to the group already.
The example below from McGuiness Funeral Home offers a good example of this concept. They kept the goal of the event very simple. It gives them a taste of what they can expect to get out of the event, and leaves them wanting more so they’ll be sure to come fill up their cup.
3. When in doubt, co-create the event with someone at the center of the community
Don’t hesitate to call upon someone with more experience, especially if you’re new to hosting events! Consider the local businesses who are aligned to your values and already hold a lot of respect in your community. Not only is this a great chance for you to build up a great working relationship, but they can also help you pull in a wider audience.
Two heads are better than one! You’ll be thankful for the support and guidance and hopefully you can plant the seeds of a long and fruitful collaboration. Maybe you already have businesses you love to partner with for other purposes; put those connections to use in a new light.
4. Remember the importance of ambience
How do you want people to feel at your event? People won’t remember what they did as much as how they felt during your event. Focus on the senses – what’s the lighting going to be like? The music? Should you put out bright displays or something more muted? Do you need a dance floor or more cozy seating that encourages people to talk to one another?
Tailor every aspect of the event to the goals that you’ve identified earlier and the senses of the people you’re inviting. Will this be more youthful or geared towards an older generation? They key is making the event feel personalized so your guests feel considered and welcome.
Take the Death Cafe below with Koch Funeral Home, for example. They are clearly creating a cozy, warming environment on their invite, so you can only imagine what the actual event would feel like. I can already smell the coffee and cake just thinking about it! Creating the right environment is vital to making sure people get into the feel of the event and take away an awesome experience.
5. Invite people who invite people
For real, getting people to show up is the hardest part of hosting any event! We all know the Facebook RSVPs do not reflect the actual attendance. So make sure you add a few people to the list who are at the center of a social circle and be transparent about the fact that you could use their support in bringing more people to the event!
Let the social butterflies do the work for you and whip up some excitement. Encourage bringing friends and family in the invitation. Directly reach out to individuals who are likely to talk up your event and bring more people with them, and make sure they know how much you personally want them at the event.
Word of mouth is the most powerful resource when it comes to event attendance these days. People are way more likely to commit to another person rather than a Facebook invite.
6. Have a game plan for everybody’s sake
No matter if you’re offering a workshop or a party, it’s good for guests and for you to have some structure for the flow. Nothing helps social anxiety more than knowing what to expect next and having a horizon to look towards. We are creatures of habit and a little structure goes a long way. You can include a brief outline of the event on the invitation, this helps people know what they’re signing up for and you’ll end up with attendees who are 100% in for what the gathering has in store for them!
As an organizer, having an idea of how long you want each component of the party to last helps you keep things on track and manage your energy and time. No one wants those potentially awkward, but necessary icebreakers to take up the first 30 minutes of the event, especially at the cost of a cool activity planned for later.
Make yourself a schedule with loose time estimates (estimates is key here – there definitely has to be room for flexibility!) Consider including a summary of the schedule without the time component on a handout or on display at the event, like the event flyer below. People like to have things to look forward to, so put something exciting towards the middle or end.
7. Keep your shindig simple
Other event planning sites will tell you to go over the top with details, but the truth is, it’s best to keep it simple at first. Things will develop organically with time and experience.
Focus on the bread and butter of your event – creating a comfortable atmosphere that reflects the intention of the gathering which encourages connection and community. Give the attendees something to take home from the event – an informational flyer, something they made, or even just a really awesome feeling or memory.
There’s no need to take yourself to stress city agonizing over the tiny details of your first few events. Just make sure all the big stuff is in place, and let yourself learn what you need over time. We promise no one is going to notice all the little things if the vibes are good and they’re enjoying themselves. It doesn’t take a lot to make people comfortable, so don’t sweat the small stuff. You totally got this!
A few more tiny tips
Are you feeling ready to throw an awesome gathering at your funeral home? Here’s a few last things to consider while you’re dreaming up your super amazing event:
- Have some conversation starters/ice breakers – you definitely do want people to get a chance to learn each other’s names and make a personal connection. Keep this light and simple, the deeper connections will come throughout the rest of the event.
- Give some time for networking in the beginning – people need a little time to settle in and catch up with folks they know and scope out who they want to meet. A little bit of mingling in the beginning lets everyone relax into the event.
- Feed em’ good! – Even a little piece of candy or some bubbly water will make guests feel taken care of. Honestly isn’t the food the highlight of pretty much any event?!
We hope this has inspired you to take the leap and start planning some epic gatherings at your funeral home. What’s your next event going to be? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!