There’s Marketing Even In Death

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ByAnn Kristine A. Peñaredondo
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Yes, you read that right. There’s marketing even in death. 

I lost my father in 2021 due to surgery complications. One of my friends said that sadly, I am now a member of the Dead Dad’s Club. Somehow, I knew my father’s death was imminent. Nonetheless, nothing prepared me for how grief will embrace me. The most surprising thing for me? Marketing was there, too, its arms wide open, allowing me to learn from it while I had to face loss in the family.

I started to learn about online marketing back in 2009, when I was introduced to Google Ads Sense, building email lists through Aweber, and creating a blog through Blogger. I know, those tools are as Jurassic as the Nat King Cole and Matt Monro songs that your grandparents played on the radio on Sundays. Still, that’s how I started my marketing journey. Little did I know that as a thrived and survived my marketing journey, I would find myself seeing marketing everywhere. You know, like a third eye, but for marketing.

That’s what happened to me during my father’s wake. I saw marketing 6 times, yet I never screamed in horror. In fact, it somehow made me feel like everything was normal even as I was introduced to a new emotion called grief. Here are the 6 times I saw marketing even in death.

Marketing Lesson 1: The Upgrade

My father’s wake took place in a memorial chapel. When we arrived the morning after he died, the memorial chapel director discussed what was going to happen – from the documents that we needed to complete to health protocols in the venue. (This happened a week before the COVID-19 Delta variant started its rampage.)

The director accompanied me to the area of the memorial chapel where the caskets were. As he showed me my father’s casket (as mentioned in his burial insurance), he also mentioned, “Ma’am, if you want, I can give you the casket above this. It looks better than the regular casket that is included in your father’s burial plan. There’s no extra charge for the other casket.” 

The original casket was already good, so I turned it down the first time. But the director brought the topic up again after a few minutes. “Ma’am, I would really suggest that you get the second casket. The side handles are silver-plated. Your father’s casket already looks good, but this looks better. Again, there’s no charge. All you have to do is to say yes.”

And yes I did say.

The marketer in me said, “Wow, even caskets have upgrades.”

Marketing Lesson 2: The Upsells

Although everything was provided for in the memorial chapel (again, as part of my father’s burial insurance), not everything was free of use. There are rental charges for the water dispenser and refrigerator inside the chapel. I said to myself, “Ah, an upsell.”

We decided not to get the upsells because we always went home before dusk. That meant we could get all things that we need in the house daily, including water and food. To add, there could only be a maximum of ten people at a time inside the chapel, and they only stayed an average of ten minutes.

Marketing Lesson 3: The Cross-Sell and the Second Pitch

The memorial chapel director advised us about purchasing flowers during the wake. The director mentioned that we may purchase flowers from the memorial chapel for a charge (Marketer Me: “Hey, that’s a cross-sell!”). 

However, he said it could be pricey, as compared to us looking for flower shops. He informed us that there is a flower shop just across the memorial chapel. We could consider that. After all, it’s just across the street.

And so we went to the flower shop.

Two women graciously greeted us and asked for the type of flowers that we needed. As the conversation started while we took a look at their catalogue, we found out that the flower shop owner is the wife of the memorial chapel director.

Nice pitch, director. Nonetheless, the shop’s service was good. So were the flowers.

Marketing Lesson 4: The Expert’s Advice

The memorial chapel director has done it again here. (I think I should have entitled this article “The decades. When my father died, we provided the details of his 2 burial insurances. We were able to redeem the first plan. However, with the current burial expenses, the director said that the second plan won’t be redeemable for future use.

The director advised us to surrender the unused burial plan insurance to the policy provider. He said the company may ask for further requirements, but it’s for the best. We can use the plan refund to invest in another burial insurance.

Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer said, “Entrepreneurs, don’t ignore your customers. Once your business starts to take off, and I guess even while your business is still on in the beginning, it’s easy to focus on marketing, and selling in customer care. Customers are well cared for by nature. However, as the business starts to scale and you start to hire people, the gap between you and your customer tends to widen.”

I wasn’t sure if the memorial chapel director knew Ryan Deiss, but boy, he understood how to take care of his customers.

The director need not give advice. He could have just given us the unused plan without saying a word. That guy really knew what to do and what to say and how to say it. He never stopped with the service. He continued to give value to his customers.

Marketing Lesson 5: The Recurring Revenue

My father was buried after three days in a private memorial garden. I thought the marketing lessons were over. Little did I know that I was still in for a surprise. The minute my father was buried and people started to leave, another person approached us. He introduced himself as one of the cemetery managers. (He’s got the ID to prove it, so he wasn’t a ghost.) 

He said, “Ma’am, I’d like to inform you that once the rains are over, we are starting the cemetery plot maintenance. The next step would be purchasing Bermuda grass for PHP 1,500.00. You won’t have to worry about buying the grass; I will take care of it. I will make sure the grass will be ready in a few weeks’ time. After that, I will cut the grass and water the plants for PHP 200.00 a month.”

I was supposed to shed more tears, but I felt the tear gates stop. Seriously. 

The marketer in me said, “He’s offering you a recurring plan, so your father’s grave looks nice. If the grave looks nice, it means you are taking care of him even if he’s gone.” 

Before I was tempted to ask, “Have you read Robert Cialdini’s book, ‘Influence’ back to back many times?”, everyone in the family said yes to the monthly maintenance plan. 

Yes, the cemetery manager will likely receive most of the monthly plan revenue. In spite of that, if you look closely, it’s the cemetery owner’s way of taking care of their employees. Still, if you think PHP 200.00 a month is small, just imagine that the cemetery manager has 50 customers in that garden.

Marketing Lesson 6: Searchable on Social

A week after the burial, my brother and I decided to give our mother a bouquet to remember their wedding anniversary. We weren’t able to have a celebration because my father was already in hospital. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I was the lone hospital companion throughout my father’s hospital stay. I looked for flower shops online. Based on my search, I found out that:

  • There are 4 flower shops in our area. (There’s still an opportunity to start this kind of business.)
  • Out of the 4 flower shops, only one has set up its Facebook Shop.
  • The said flower shop was the most responsive to my inquiries.

It’s always best to leverage social media platforms as part of your business or product marketing strategy. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. Build a social media presence in a platform where your customers are. 

We bought the flowers online. In a few hours, the bouquet was delivered. To say that tears overflowed was an understatement, but that’s a story for another day.

Even in death, marketing continued to give me lessons:

  • You should always pitch and sell on every opportunity you could get.
  • Be three steps ahead of your customer. It will allow you to anticipate their needs, provide expert advice, and have products or services to solve their problems.
  • There will always be upselling and cross-selling.
  • Find out about potential recurring revenues.
  • Leverage social media presence.

I realized that it’s always interesting to see marketing around you, thanks to years of learning and implementing what I learned. A few months later, I learned that Dan Kennedy calls this concept of seeing marketing everywhere as “the marketing button is switched on”.

Well, I never intended for my marketing button to be switched on even during the time of my father’s death. Even so, marketing was a good companion together with grief.

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