Everyone likes to buy, but no one likes to be sold
I love to shop for what I want—to compare prices and product features, go online and look at all the independent reviews and see what best meets my needs. Then I can contact stores or websites and comparison shop and get the best deal.
But shopping for cemetery lots seems to defy that strategy. I tried doing a Google search on “cemetery reviews.” What I got was recommendations on which cemeteries were worth visiting for their scenic views and famous people buried there and business reviews of their sales figures and profits and losses. The closest I got to customer reviews were testimonials some cemeteries publish on their websites, where their customers rave about the good service they got, the friendly staff or the beautiful grounds. But can you imagine a cemetery (or any business for that matter) publishing all the complaint letters they’ve received alongside the testimonials? Neither can I.
As far as I can tell, there are no independent ratings or review websites for cemeteries or funeral homes. What’s a shopper to do to find the best cemetery for her or him?
Well, for one thing, it is important when comparing cemetery prices to consider everything that is included in burial costs. For example, some cemeteries connected with funeral homes offer low cemetery lot pricing, since they know they’ll make up the difference with high funeral home service fees later. Others that do not adequately fund perpetual care of their property may offer very low pricing, but it is doubtful that the property will be maintained for the long term.
In addition, most cemeteries require that your survivors purchase a burial vault (outer burial container) at the time of your death. These can cost between $500 to $1500, or more but are not required for green burial at Penn Forest. Usually, when burial vault costs are included in the total, Penn Forest lot pricing is equal to or lower than total costs at conventional cemeteries.
Another factor is that buying cemetery lots is usually a once-in-a-lifetime event. And it’s something that can be put off almost indefinitely.
So how do conventional cemeteries find and sell to their customers. Many use telemarketers, junk mail and email solicitations and advertising blasts. Some use commissioned sales people, whose job it is to “overcome your objections” one by one and whose mission is to get make sure you don’t leave their property without buying. That’s not how I want to buy or sell at Penn Forest.
Our approach at Penn Forest Natural Burial Park is different. First of all, our customers are different. Most of our buyers are interested in green burial, not harming the environment and restoring the forests. That is a special interest other cemeteries cannot fulfill.
Our sales philosophy is to let our customers make up their own minds; no matter how long it takes, and then tell us when they’re ready to buy. I have had people make five visits to Penn Forest before they bought their lots.
We have no sales people. Rather than advertising, we spend our limited marketing dollars educating people on why green burial might be a choice they might want to consider.
So, for that reason, I do a lot of work building up our email list. It’s an opt-in email list, so everyone on it has asked to be on it, which makes it even trickier to build. For that reason, I need your help in referring people you know to the list. So we don’t do telemarketing. We don’t send you sales emails.
In fact, we don’t solicit at all. But, in order for this low-key approach to work, we need a really big email list, so that at any given time, some people on our list will be ready to buy lots.The way we go about selling is to build up our email list, send out infrequent educational newsletters and other blurbs to make sure people don’t forget about us when they’re ready to shop for cemetery lots. And when they’re ready to buy, they contact us.
If you’re not yet on the list, click here: Join My Mailing List and make sure you add my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to your address book, so our emails don’t go to your junk mail folder. If you are on the list, please forward our newsletters and emails to everyone you know and ask them to join too.
Thanks for your help!