Sam Darling purchased a neglected funeral home in Auburn, NY, in 2015. At the time, his was one of seven funeral homes serving 28,000 people. Needless to say there was a lot of competition for funeral services. So what did Darling do to stand out from the crowd? He turned to the theatre-of-the-mind medium of course.
Darling was contacted by Finger Lakes Radio Group Account Executive Ed Helinski and purchased his first run of radio ads in 2016 to begin branding his funeral home. He voiced his own commercials and business started to take off. In 2017, Darling performed 68 funeral services. At the end of October, so far this year, he’s performed 99 funerals. With two months to go, there’s no doubt Darling will see a 50-plus percent increase in his business. He could end up servicing between 115-120 funerals for the year. The only thing he’s done differently – he invested in radio advertising.
The AE on the account is Ed Helinski from the Finger Lakes Radio Group. Helinski tells Radio Ink why he decided to call on Darling and make the radio pitch. “Funeral homes only did sporadic newspaper and church bulletin advertising. With all the competition with funeral homes, it seemed like a good opportunity to pitch a funeral home.”
Helinski adds that Darling was open to the idea, especially with so much competition in the Auburn market. “It wasn’t that difficult to convince the owner once he understood that radio is theater of the mind. Funeral services is one of those things people only talk about around their dining room table. We made it sound easy for folks to talk about the ease and convenience of preplanning funeral services.”
Helinski says the client message is changed every 60 days and he runs six ads per day. He also services the account weekly to monitor Darling’s success. “There’s no pestering done whatsoever. Actually the client is considering adding another station to increase his business even more so.”
Great work by Ed Helinski and the Finger Lakes Radio Group for finding what most would consider to be a non-traditional category for radio and making it work. What they’ve also done, and what every salesperson should do with a successful client is this next piece of success: create a video of the client touting the benefits of radio. Imagine the mileage you can get out of 10 or 20 of these on your social media accounts.