Lori is back with Jake and Rob in this episode and as the Co-Chair of the ICCFA Convention, she gives an overview of the event. Jake and Rob both talk about the presentations that they will be giving. ICCFA’s Annual Convention is going to be held in Las Vegas from March 22nd to the 25th. For more information and registration details, visit www.ICCFA.com. #iccfa2022
See the complete transcript here:
Welcome back to the Funeral X podcast. I’m Rob Heppell, and today I’m joined with my Funeral Results Marketing business partner, Jake Johnson, and the director of J3Tech Solutions and Performance Tracker, Lori Salberg. Hey there, Lori. Hey there, Jake.
What’s going on? Happy Friday.
Hi, Rob, Jake.
Awesome. Hey, now this is a bit of a unique episode, as we’re getting ready for the ICCFA convention that’s going to be held in Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from March 22nd to 25th. Lori’s got a special part with that. She’s the co-chair of the convention along with John Bolton, and both Jake and I are presenting on Friday, the final day of the convention. So I thought it would be good just to chat about ICCFA and what folks could be in for if they’re going to make the trek to Vegas. So Lori, tell us about the convention. You’re probably the best person to ask. What’s happening this year?
Yes, I think what’s really exciting is that we haven’t had a convention for two years. I know from experience, the sales and marketing, ICCFA, did talks in January, and there was just a different buzz in the air because people hadn’t been together in a really long time. I don’t expect anything less. In fact, I think it’s going to be even more exciting going back to Vegas. Being at Mandalay Bay, of course, that’s just a great venue. And again, just getting back face to face. But we’re already seeing an uptake in registrations and definitely, people are excited to be able to get back.
There are so many incredible programs going on. I’m most excited probably that we have four keynote speakers. I think that’s more than we normally have. And all of them on topics that I think are most relevant to what’s happening in the world and our businesses today. Really, the program starts on that Tuesday and runs through Thursday. There’s a banquet Thursday night. But there are leadership sessions starting early on Tuesday, and then a grand opening of the expo hall on Tuesday night with a concert from the Oak Ridge Boys. So that’s going to be fun, just to kick off the party, right?
And then really, the keynote is what I’m most excited about. We were able to get… John and I talked about it when we were first asked to be co-chairs and we said, “We need to get some big names in here. Even though we have incredible professionals in our industry, let’s look to some leaders outside of the industry and how we can look at our businesses differently and drive more opportunities for ourselves.” So we thought about really wanting to get one of the sharks from the Shark Tank, and we’re so excited that we were able to land Daymond John. So he is going to be heading up that Wednesday night. We’ve got two keynotes. He’s one of them, of course. You really just don’t want to miss that. He’s going to be talking about branding yourself and branding your brand and all of that. He is a bestselling author of a couple of books related to that. I don’t think I need to talk anymore about his credibility, but definitely one to not want to miss.
And then that same day, we have Lynne Lancaster. She is an expert on really the generational divide, so she studies generations. We met with her and we talked at length about the change in generations right now is impacting our businesses as a whole, and she’s going to talk about that. She’s going to talk about the boomers and the Gen Xers and the millennials and gen Ys. What’s making them tick and how do we work with them and how do we hire them and how to retain them. And what are the gaps in the expectations of an employee who’s in one of those generations, as opposed to an employer maybe that’s not in that same generation? I think it goes both ways, and she’s going to talk about that, where we have maybe gen Ys or millennials or gen Xers who are managing either an older or a younger generation than them and the reverse. That’s so relevant right now.
And then we’ve got anyone who is… I live in Silicon Valley, so you would know a guru like this, Ricard Siebert. He’s somebody who has been a catalyst in Google for a very long time. He’s actually gotten into our industry in that he’s trying to help people understand what happens with your digital profile after your death. And so he’s going to talk very much about how to close out those technologies and how do we use technology to define our businesses and that digital afterlife, and how that impacts us as funeral homeowners and cemeterians. So that’s going to be really exciting.
And then finally, we have a keynote from someone that I’ve seen in person myself. Again, when we were asked to co-chair, I said this is one person we absolutely have to have. He’s probably the best speaker I’ve ever seen at any convention, and not just in industry or out of the industry. His name is Mark Scharenbroich, and he has a presentation that will just knock your socks off. He is a professional actor and comedian. He’s hilarious, but he also comes with a very compelling message about how to make personal connections. In our companies, as you know, Johnson Consulting and J3 Tech Solutions, we’ve spent the last few years really studying and incorporating customer experience into the way that we do business and how you use metrics and customer experience to drive your performance. This is a really important element of that, is really making meaningful connections in that customer experience. And so Mark is going to talk about that. This is definitely one that you don’t want to miss.
So those are the big things that are going on. We also have a ton of really relevant panels. We’ve got a pet panel for anyone who’s considering pet businesses and a green panel. Of course, we’ve got a women’s panel. And then to piggyback on Lynne Lancaster’s presentation about the generational divide, which again, I think is probably one of the most relevant things we could be talking about right now, especially when it comes to hiring, is Leili McMurrough, who is the program director at Worsham College. She’s going to be presenting some research and some interviews that she’s done with this younger generation of funeral directors that have just recently entered the profession or are going to be entering the profession to really hear their perspective on this whole thing, and shed some light on that so that we can better understand what we need to do as business owners to prepare for what their expectations are. So I just think it’s a great connection to what Lynne is covering and overall what we’re all dealing with right now. So I’m super, super, super excited about the whole thing.
It’s going to be great to get back to Mandalay. It’s been quite a while for me, over five years. It’s just a great venue. You and John have put together an awesome program.
I don’t want to miss out, though, regarding Mark Scharenbroich. I had the opportunity to do a Funeral X podcast with him himself, and you’re right, he’s hilarious. He’s got a great message and is just a very personable person. And then immediately following his presentation, he’s coming over to where our booths are, so where Johnson Consulting and J3 Tech and Funeral Results are. He’s going to be signing his book. So you’re going to want to make sure to come over and get in line, get a copy of his book. We got a really good giveaway too there between the three companies. It’s going to be a really nice iPad and we’ve got some other things for folks. So make sure you follow Mark to where our booths are, and we’ll be very happy to see you and get you a copy of Mark’s book.
Now, Jake, your presentation. So then that is on Thursday, and then Friday is… The expo’s finished on Thursday, and then Friday, there are some breakout sessions. Yours is Success and Succession in Funeral Service. So give a little bit of background on that topic.
It’s so relevant, as Lori had mentioned, about the next generation and understanding them. But the other part about that is just sitting amongst the next generation and talking about succession planning. What’s fun about it for me is that as long as I’ve been in this business, the succession planning discussions for me were about dealing with my father or the people my age and generation dealing with their fathers. And now it’s my generation, some with our fathers still, looking at the next generation and how we create that succession. So I go through these steps and the things that we see from high-performing companies, how they’re addressing and looking at what I would call redundancy, and whether or not there’s segmentation or specialization of the tasks within the business. And where we’re best suited, certainly as owners, and spending our time and what the value of our time’s worth.
Ultimately, in the end, I always like to correlate it because the fun part of the consulting and succession planning that we do is that we know, as an M&A firm and doing valuations, how this impacts the value of a business. So I go through that presentation. As you know, I’m able to correlate that, whether it’s customer service or in this case, succession planning. It’s very compelling and it really sends a statement home as it relates to how important it is, in this case, for creating a succession plan and what that does for the business and its success, which is why I call it success and succession.
That sounds great. I’m sure that’s on the minds of many family-owned funeral homes or cemeteries, or any businesses, of how are we going to pass that on next? So that’s great. Your presentation, I believe, is at 10:00, and mine’s immediately following yours.
Mine is The Right Online Marketing Strategy. For that one, the main thing that I’m going to be addressing is what happens is sometimes we focus on, or the funeral homes or cemeteries focus on, maybe using a particular channel. They’re not really focused on what’s the end result, what’s the objective of this marketing campaign. They’ll say, “Oh, we need to start doing Facebook ads,” or, “We need to start advertising in Google.” Those are good questions to maybe start a conversation, but we really need to step back, take a look at how do we really focus first on the goal. So whatever that goal is, who’s the audience going to be? And then what’s the message to get them to take that action and then complete that goal? Too often, folks, they chase these shiny objects. And then you get back into John Wanamaker, his quote, which it’s not a positive quote, it’s a negative quote. “Half of my marketing works. I just don’t know which half.”
What we’ll do, then, during that session is going through… I have a strategic marketing map where we go through the processes. We will actually look at how does this apply to creating an online marketing campaign. We’ll look at a number of different marketing channels and what ones are best for what goals. Just as an example, the difference between a Google search ad and Facebook ads. So if you are an online cremation business and you’re looking to get more online calls right now, the best thing to use would be someone searching for that, so that would be in Google search. Versus if you were wanting to connect with maybe an older crowd for a pre-planning event, then using Facebook, you can then dial into those demographics and interrupt those people in their daily activities of being online and communicating with friends. And all of a sudden, they get this reality check about their mortality because some funeral home or cemetery popped an ad for them to at least maybe come to a pre-need and pizza session or lunch and learn.
Then also, too, with our name, Funeral Results Marketing, the results part is, is this marketing working? We’ll look at some of those metrics that you should be looking at. For example, what is your ROAS, your return on advertising spend? That is very important, especially for online cremation marketers. Knowing that metric alone is next to… The number one would be what’s your revenue and the number of online cremations? But then how much money did it cost to get those? We’ll go through a number of different metrics because we don’t want our funeral professionals to ask that question of, I just don’t know what marketing works. Half of it works and I just don’t know which part. So that’s what I’ll be covering and really looking forward to that.
Before I let both of you go, any final thoughts about the ICCFA convention?
Well, I was just going to say, Rob, I love hearing what you’re covering. Obviously, John and I, when we were putting the program together, we get dozens and dozens of people submitting to be able to be speakers. And you guys, you’re on the program because you stood out. Both of these presentations are so not just relevant, but impactful because you’re talking about things like what is the return? What is the value? Here are the metrics.
So often, we go to conventions and we hear speakers, and then it’s a rah-rah cheerleader session where it makes you feel good. Or it was a good presentation, but people are talking about concepts without actually giving you numbers to show you what you need to do, how-to type of a thing. We really tried to put a program together that you’re going to walk away from each of those sessions saying, okay, that’s a takeaway, but it’s something that I could do right now when I go home, and it’s going to help me start a plan or look at whether or not I’m on track with whatever that category is that we’re talking about.
Just a last thing is we’ve got multiple areas that we’re covering here. We’re talking about throughout the convention, there are sessions on cemetery operations and cremation and funeral operations and grief care and leadership and overall management and sales and how to utilize technology. There’s really something for everyone, and hopefully, you’ll see that when you attend. It’s that you’re taking home real relevant stuff that you can use. And as always with any of these ICCFA events, you go home with just networking with some really great people that’ll help you in your business and personal life. I’ve made many friends at these events, and so hopefully people will, if they’re new to the industry, do the same. And if not, come back and join us again. Let’s gather together because it’s been a while.
I think the convention, there’s been enough time. There’s been… I don’t say enough time. Enough time has passed that we all want to get back together, our families. We see it when families come back to the funeral home, hopefully, for most of you with funeral services. I think the same will hold true here. What do they say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think people really will are wanting to come to this, and I think that’s why Lori’s saying they’re seeing that. I’m noticing that and in meetings, we’re scheduling, what have you. ICCFA always puts on a good event, so I look forward to it.
The last thing, if it matters to anybody, the mask mandate was lifted in Vegas. And so it’s nice to breathe again indoors.
That’s great. Both Jake and Lori, thanks so much for joining me today on this special little edition here for the Funeral X podcast. For the listeners, if you haven’t made up your mind yet, there’s still time. Join us at the ICCFA annual convention that’s going to be held in Las Vegas from March 22nd to the 25th. For more information and registration details, visit www.iccfa.com.
Thank you for listening to this edition of the Funeral X podcast. On behalf of Lori Salberg and Jake Johnson, this is Rob Heppell.