All of us have lost someone important to us. It is a very difficult time, soothed only by close friends, family and memories of the person we have lost. The funeral industry sometimes feels like a taboo subject, but in fact, is huge business in this country. Funeral homes, whether privately owned, or corporately owned compete for business like any other company. The impression a funeral director makes on a family over a few days, could help determine how a family copes, and provide loyalty to a business for the future.
I recently visited a funeral home, and realized that it is a strong market for digital signage. Many funeral homes have monitors on their walls in which they show slideshows of a person’s life. The intent of these slides shows is to relive happy memories and open discussion about the person who has recently passed. They are very effective in providing this service, but could stand to be even more so.
Currently, many funeral homes will have the family pass along pictures of the deceased and as a service the home will put together the slide show. This is often offered on the website of the company, as well as on a monitor in the home during the visitation period. This is normally done via a DVD player connected to the monitor. When the visitations end, the company gives a copy of the DVD to the family.
This is a nice service, but what if the funeral homes could take it a step further? The obvious first step for those of us in the AV industry is to put together a true digital signage network. This would eliminate the need for the DVD players, and give a more centralized control of the signage system. For the large corporately owned homes, it means that you could centralize and standardize this work. For the smaller family owned homes, it means a little less work for the owner to be fussing with individual televisions and DVD players.
The best advantage of the digital signage network would be interactivity. The problem with the current system of pictures, is that they all come from the immediate family. While those are great memories, they don’t tell the entire story of the person who has passed, nor do the give the family the opportunity to enjoy stories, images and comments from others that knew their loved one. It would be really nice to be able to walk into a funeral home and watch images of a good friend, and laugh and cry about those times. Then to be able to add a picture, that gives context to your relationship, or develops a new story about your friend. This activity would assist with the grieving process for everyone, and make them feel as though they had a real connection during this final goodbye.
Another opportunity for interaction, would be to integrate social media into the sign and the remembrances. Many of us over a certain age, are thinking, wow, isn’t this a time to step away from our phones and mobile devices. Obviously, for those who feel that way, yes it is. But in fact, many people under 30 would not feel that way. Those mobile devices are their tools of communication, as much as writing our names in a visitor book is ours. Being able to share their thoughts, images, words and expressions is a powerful tool. This is especially true during the very tragic loss of a younger person. We often think of technology as putting us into our own silos, but this is an opportunity for technology to bring us close, during a time we need it. When I give my condolences during a visiting period, I know that the family is too upset to really remember the thoughts I shared about their loved one. My name is a visitors book will not recall those words for them. However, being able to watch a video that is full of remembrances, will be something that family can look back on forever.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I realize that this feels like somewhat of a taboo subject. Let me be clear that I am not suggesting we take advantage of people who have had a loss, or the funeral homes that serve them. Rather, I think this is a great opportunity for your company to do business, while also doing good for others. What are your thoughts? Is the funeral industry too taboo to embrace? Is it a good potential market to tap? I look forward to your thoughts.