What DeathCare Can Learn From The Way Women Dress…An Epiphany

uncomfortable shoesInsights come from the strangest places. This time from why women dress the way they do.

My wife has bad feet. Most women do. Why? Because women’s shoes are not designed for practicality. They are intended only to create an impression. Comfort and productivity, as purpose, are lost in favor of competing with others.

When my children were in high school their youth pastor did something very bold, even risky. Frustrated with the immodest behavior of the girls and the consequent disruption it created with the boys and other girls he held an open meeting. Somehow he got the kids to talk about the impression provocative dress and behavior created in the boys. Everyone was surprised to learn that the girls had absolutely no idea the impact their provocative attire and behavior was having on the boys. More to the point they were horrified by the opinion of them the boys formed as a result.

I couldn’t help but be curious about how the girls could have missed something so obvious to even a casual observer. At the time, I had a friend who was a retired psychiatrist. I shared this with him and his response was even more surprising. “What you don’t understand,” he said, “is that women don’t dress for men. They dress for other women. It’s about competition not attraction.” Again, I had to check this out and, sure enough, every woman I spoke with, including my wife, acknowledged this truth. WOW!

What has this to do with DeathCare?

I have always been curious about the “herd effect” so prevalent in this profession. Ideas are not adopted because they are good or because they fit a given firm’s strategy. Nor are they adopted because they work. No, they are adopted because they are trendy. People don’t innovate for competitive advantage but to impress other funeral directors. This would, at least for me, explain the overwhelming prevalence of mediocrity in preneed programs.

Could this be the thinking: I don’t want to sell preneed but if I don’t have a preneed program people will think I am stupid. So I will do something just so I can say I have a preneed program. Or, worse, I will build a 30,000 square foot megabuilding so people will THINK I am successful.

I honestly don’t know. I hope not. But something in me says I am at least partly right. So, if the results of wearing bad shoes is bad feet what is the result of herd behavior? Bad results?



  1. Nice article Alan!

  2. Hmmmm.

  3. I would have to agree with you that the herd effect is strong in the funeral industry. Egos also have no place in this business yet we sure do nurture our egos in the funeral biz.. It’s time for many of us to try some comfortable, practical shoes before were barefoot and broke!

  4. For years I’ve been talking to male funeral home owners, explaining that we work in a male-dominated industry, at least in terms of ownership. Does that explain why so many funeral homes have lackluster web presences and fail to to persuade wome online, because they don’t understand “female motivators?” The herd mentality is visible in this market space, to everyone’s loss. 72% of deathcare shoppers are women (Rhonda Harper, ICCFA 2010). And, the presentation Lacy Robinson gave at CANA’s annual convention this year showed that women are concerned what others will think of the venue they’ve selected for Dad or Mom’s last event. It’s not a stretch to think the website that contains the obit and reflects the character of the funeral home, which people will see before arriving for the service, also plays into her selection or screening process.

    And when we consider the “ZMET” marketing model being widely adopted due to the revolutionary change the web has caused in shopping behavior (stimulus, ONLINE RESEARCH, point of sale, experience with product), it’s time to stop following the herd’s approach to deathcare service in the online space too.

  5. The wind-up, delivery — and Creedy puts it over the frickin’ wall for a grand slam!
    The only forgotten item: women dress to attract, then delight in shoo-ing away.
    The herd effect [at least with sheep] results in an uninformed flock going off a cliff — and with the industry’s over-saturation, may be natural selection — who knows?

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