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Getting Started with your Funeral Program Business

Answering the following questions before you start your business selling funeral and memorial programs will help you save time, money and business start-up errors. These questions cover the basic components of a solid business and can help you to feel less overwhelmed. Take the time to answer them carefully and then use your answers to take your next steps forward.

Do I Have What it Takes to Succeed?

You may wonder if it requires a college degree, advanced business expertise or a specialized skill set to be successful running your own business. While you don’t need any of those to get started, it will require some specific attributes.

The most important attribute required to be successful designing funeral and memorial programs is a willingness to learn. With some basic computer and word processing skills, you can build a profitable business if you are also willing to learn how to organize your time, keep good business records and market your products and services. Here’s an article about what it takes to get started in a funeral program design business. Take what you already know and build on it, one step at a time.

Where, When and How Will I Be in Business?

This is the basic stuff of any well-planned business, and you’ll need to answer these questions next. Will you work full or part time in your funeral program business? Some people choose to keep working their ‘regular’ jobs as they build their customer base and income. You’ll need to decide what works best in your financial and life situation.

Will you set your business up as a sole proprietorship or an LLC corporation? This takes some homework on your part. Talk to a tax specialist or your attorney and decide which form of business ownership makes the most sense for you.

One more big question—will you open a storefront operation and have customers come to your physical location (as well as ordering online) or will you operate strictly through a website? Click here to read the pros and cons of both. Again, this decision should be made based on what start-up funds you have available, how much risk you want to take on and whether you plan to target local or remote business primarily.

What Equipment and Software Do I Need to Get Started?

It may surprise you to learn that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for equipment, software and supplies if you already own a laptop or computer with fairly current word processing software (Microsoft Word or Publisher, Pages for Mac) and a color printer.

Read this article covering software required to start your business, and then read here about purchasing a computer and printer that will do the job. Armed with that information, you will make the right selections and avoid unnecessary expense.

What Skills Will I Need to Develop?

If you have basic word processing or desktop publishing skills, but have never designed a funeral program, don’t panic! Easy-to-use funeral program templates make the job much easier and allow you to customize each program based on your customer’s input.

Once you’ve purchased a basic set of program templates, you’ll be able to practice inserting clipart, fonts, photos and other design elements that personalize a memorial program. Your completed practice designs can then become part of your marketing strategy, in the form of a printed or digital sample book.

By learning how to work with photographs, design and print funeral bulletins and assist your customers through the design process, you will have the basic technical skills required to build a successful funeral program business.

How Will I Market My Business?

With the basic equipment, software and templates in place, and the skills you need to create and print memorial and funeral programs (as well as keep your business running) it’s time to concentrate on marketing.

I understand—this is the hardest part of running a business for most people. But if you don’t get the word out about your products and services, people won’t know to turn to you in their time of need. You’re performing a valuable service, and it’s time to let the world know.

This can be done in many ways—from creating a website to distributing brochures and flyers at funeral homes and churches. Designing a successful marketing program takes some research on where to find potential customers and also where they turn for information when they need it.  Social media is also a very good way to publicize your business.

Before you begin to create your marketing strategy, be sure you’ve answered the following questions:

  • What products and services am I offering? Will you be designing funeral programs and then sending the completed digital files to your customers to take to their local print shop? You’ll need to make that clear in your advertising.
  • Will you offer other products that complement the personalized funeral or memorial program, such as memorial bookmarks and prayer cards? What will you promise as far as turnaround time (this one is crucial, as there is usually a short timeframe between someone’s death and the funeral service).
  • Are you able to customize funeral mementos for different faith traditions and languages? The easier it is for customers to see the benefit of choosing your business over someone else’s, the more business will come your way.
  • How will I ‘brand’ my business? Here’s a BIG question: what will you call your business? You’ll want something simple but memorable so when the time comes to call you, your company’s name will come easily to a customer’s mind. With your business name chosen, you’ll also want to create a business email account, for a more professional presence. That same business name will be used to create your website, flyers and brochures and any advertising you decide to do.
  • Will I design my own website and social media presence or hire someone to do it?
  • Without some kind of online marketing, you’ll be missing out on a large percentage of the public who turn to the internet when they need a product or service. Either use one of the ‘website in a box’ type packages that often come with website hosting or hire someone to create an easy-to-navigate website and a clear, concise social media strategy. Here’s an article with the basics of creating a website that will result in more business. You may also find this article on building a social media presence helpful.

Answer the questions above to start and build your successful funeral program business. You have a lot of decisions to make, and some work to get done, but it’s going to be worth it! Designing thoughtful, personalized funeral mementos is a service to anyone who has lost a friend or loved one. Learning to do that well, while being sensitive to the needs of each customer, will help you to become someone who grieving families can trust.



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