You Plan It, We Scan It

Technology is quickly transforming the world as we know it.  These days you have to search hard to find anything that isn’t being done online from banking to taxes.  In fact when you look at the toolkit of available technology there is not an industry I can think of that couldn’t have some electronic component.  Case in point, the funeral industry.

We are a much more portable population these days and travels plays a much bigger part in our lives however travel time is becoming a luxury.  Many of us now live thousands of miles from family members and old school friends.  We now spend more time on Skype, Facebook, Messenger, etc. than we do traveling back and forth.  It’s a much more cost effective and stress reducing process to Skype with family members on Christmas Day than it is to fly 2500 miles to visit for four days.  Technology has given us the tools to do that.

We have now reached the point where the funeral industry can offer online services.  Being able to attend the funeral of a loved one or long time friend can now be done without all of the required travel.  We can use something as simple as a tablet and Skype call.  However by using the right mix of technology it can be even more personal by allowing people to electronically “attend” the service.

Anyone who knows what Second Life, as an example, is or has attended educational programs using virtual classrooms will understand the use of an avatar.  Those same tools could be adopted discreetly in the funeral business.  With the right software you could actually have your avatar sitting in the pew.

Not only could you be sitting there but you could be using your mobile device to communicate with others in attendance be that live or online.  The technology employed in virtual learning allows the user to interact in realtime and this same process could easily be incorporated in the virtual funeral process.

Technology has become so miniaturized these days that a chapel could be outfitted with hidden video and audio equipment that would allow a view from anywhere in the chapel.  Those attending electronically could pick and choose which camera they wanted to view through or use multiple cameras to see different views at once.

The ability to quickly connect with an onsite attendee could easily be accomplished through their smart phone.  FaceTime, video messaging or any other of many options could allow for real time interaction.  All it would take is an interested funeral business to recognize the potential for this and begin building the simple infrastructure needed.

The bigger crowd online!
The bigger crowd online!

I have reached a point in my life where I need to attend more funerals than baptisms or weddings.  However the travel involved for many of these make it impossible for me to attend.  Electronic attendance strikes me as a very effective option.  Although many baby-boomers may see this as rather impersonal many millenials wouldn’t and definitely won’t as they age.  They take the use of technology for granted.  By the time they get to where funerals are more common than weddings it will probably be an expectation to attend electronically.

My prediction, a growth area involving technology and death.  It may not sound pleasant but it does encourage involvement.  It is much more likely I would attend as an electronic attendee than jump on a plane four or five times a year to attend the event.  It doesn’t even have to be a funeral business that does this.  It could simply be an entrepreneur who sees an opportunity to blend technology with compassion.

Just one man’s opinion!

Procrastination Should Not Be Your Marketing Strategy

Christmas is that time of year where you separate the wheat from the chaff for the hard core procrastinator.  Christmas is a holiday we all know a year in advance will be here on that exact date, yet so many people wait until that last moment before tackling the holiday shopping.  Many marketers would argue that the shopping aspect is the most important part of the Christmas season.  Businesses don’t want to lose out on that market share.

Consumer procrastination is nothing new, it is actually quite endemic.  Businesses and marketers have dealt with it for years.  There is a plethora of sales rolled out in the last few days before Christmas to capitalize on the procrastinating shopper.  But times have changed and many businesses are not playing catch up very successfully.

Technology now encourages procrastination.  It is easier to put things off because the new consumer knows they can do anything they need through social media.   Todays procrastinators simply pick up their smartphone, tablet or other social media device to shop without ever entering a brick and mortar store.  Social media is the procrastinators shopping treasure chest.

In a world with Internet, on-line shopping and e-commerce it is even easier to delay or “put it off for now”.  The technology of social media makes it easier to be a procrastinator.  However the same technology that encourages procrastination can also be used to overcome it.  Consumer procrastination can be planned for but how do you deal with marketing procrastination?

Successful marketing can sink a business when you have a marketing culture that procrastinates.  When you have a marketing strategy that is based on the “paper flyer” model while having your social media on the back burner, you are procrastinating.  “Thinking about” entering the social media market place is not the same as “planning” for it.  Thinking about it is just another form of procrastination while planning for it is actively taking ownership!

We'll get around to the repairs...someday!
We’ll get around to the repairs…someday!

For businesses to be successful in todays market they need to innovate not procrastinate.  They need to dip into the array of technology available to them and develop an understanding of social media.  The dependence on print advertising will no longer generate sustainable customer loyalty.  That market is changing and it is changing fast.  There is no time for marketers that procrastinate.  They are a barrier to success.

There is an old adage that defines this perfectly “Fail to plan, plan to fail“.  Is your marketing campaign adapting to this?  Does your ability to innovate outweigh your habit to procrastinate?  The world of social media now allows small business to accomplish amazing marketing tasks while maintaining a realistic marketing budget.  Do you realize how far something as minimal as a $500 budget annually will go in today’s world of social marketing?

When it comes to the need for a social media plan the statistics speak for themselves.

According to http://www.pewinternet.org/ as of January 2014:

  • 90% of North American adults have a cell phone
  • 58% of North American adults have a smartphone
  • 32% of North American adults own an e-reader
  • 42% of North American adults own a tablet computer
  • 74% of all online adults use social media
  • 89% of adults ages 18-29 use social media
  • 82% of adults ages 30-49 use social media
  • 65% of adults ages 50-64 use social media
  • 49% of adults ages 65+ are now using social networking sites like Facebook
  • 72% of consumers have made their purchasing decision up long before walking into the store.

Imagine what these figures will look like in January 2015.  No business should be losing out on this market due to the inability to innovate or adapt.  Your customers of tomorrow have arrived today and if you are not ready they won’t be back.  Social media takes your business out of its kiosk in the Mall and puts you in the global market place.

In the fast paced world of social media businesses should already be planning their marketing campaigns for the coming year.  If you haven’t begun your planning for a social media strategy in 2015 you are procrastinating.  That can only result in lost business and lack of growth.  Now is the time to be planning your marketing campaign for 2015.  Start innovating before procrastinating leaves you behind.  You will wind up being that Christmas shopper who is stuck with a bad tie or left over sales socks that nobody else wanted!

Just one man’s opinion!