[PMC Weekend Edition] Trade Journal Cooperative

Philip Morgan

(Readin' time: 3m 35s)

As most of you probably know, I'm a "niche nerd". And I've just discovered something I'm niche-nerding out HARD on: www.tradejournalcooperative.com

Every quarter they mail you a print copy of a different niche trade journal and it is fascinating. This quarter's journal was American Funeral Director.

And so now, I find myself spending more time than I would have ever thought possible pondering how one could add premium price tiers to a cremation service. That's because, according to the editor of Trade Journal Cooperative, the rising popularity of cremation is impacting the revenue of the burial business in a negative way. Cremations are simply less expensive and less profitable than a full burial service. This is known as the "cremation gap".

This leads me to a fanciful idea. Maybe you aspire to think more like a consultant, but don't get many opportunities to do that in your current work. Consider this a challenge that might help with that:

  1. Get a few niche trade journals. Libraries (yes, they still exist) sometimes have a surprising collection of such things, or at least a collection of back issues. Make sure they're weird niches you don't know a ton about. Or, subscribe to the aforelinked Trade Journal Cooperative.
  2. Trawl through these trade journals looking for problems in the associated industry.
  3. Figure out how you'd suggest those problems be solved.

As you ponder #3 above, consider these sub-questions:

  1. Who at the client organization would be empowered to implement your recommendations?
  2. What budget would you suggest your client allocate to for-sure effectively solve this problem? Extra credit: break the budget out into major line items and justify each line item to your imaginary client.
  3. Identify both short and long-term fixes you could suggest to the client. Identify the pros and cons of each.

One of the things I want to do 2020 is launch a pop-up publication. Possibly print, possibly electronic. Likely a monthly publication frequency. Definitely more like a newsletter than a magazine. Limited to 12 months (thus the pop-up aspect of this publication) and then it disappears unless it happens to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, then I maybe continue it.

If I did this, what would you want to read about? What would you want to learn about in monthly installments?

Oh, what's my idea for adding premium price tiers to a cremation service, you say?

Where do I even begin? How about these for starters:

  • Flaming arrow shot into a funeral barge on a peaceful lake at daybreak. Accompanied by your choice of live bag pipes, New Orleans-style funeral jazz band, or string quartet. Pro video team and drone used to record the whole thing in 4k video.
  • Regular cremation, but ashes mixed with non-toxic, biodegradable glitter are scattered into the stratosphere by a custom weather balloon drone which then uses some sort of laser to illuminate the sparkley ashes as they scatter, Gopro video sent back to you after the drone lands.
  • Ashes mixed into artists oil paints and a life-sized portrait of the deceased is made using those paints.
  • Ashes are spread for you at the deceased's favorite place on the planet (if you're too busy or grieved or out of shape to go do it yourself) and professionally made video is sent back to you so you can relive the experience you paid someone else to have.
  • Ashes of the deceased are made into a custom fertilizer you can spread in a garden or use to nurture a tree planted in their memory.
  • Building on the above, you choose a tree to plant in their memory, but the funeral service parters with a horticulturalist to help you choose a tree that has symbolic meaning to you/the family, and they use the custom fertilizer above to nurture the tree from a seed. Once it's mature enough to transplant they come out to your house and help you plant it, then they come back for periodic health checks until it's at the point it can thrive on its own. If it fails to thrive, they do a complete do-over using a reserve supply of the ashes they kept just for this purpose.

Are these good ideas for closing the "cremation gap"? Hell if I know. I'd do some market research to find out! American attitudes about suicide are changing and becoming more accepting of at least the idea of suicide, so maybe there's room in the culture for funerals to become less traditional experiences. If they do, we have to wonder: will it happen because suppliers offer new services the market didn't even know it wanted, or because innovative buyers insist on new and interesting ways to honor their deceased love ones?

Anyway, what would you like to see me do in a popup publication? Topic ideas, themes, or other ideas welcome. Hit REPLY and unload on me. It's early days for this pop-up publication idea, so think of it as spreading "idea seeds" in the soil of Philip. I'll make the ashes of the bad ideas into fertilizer to nurture the good ones. ;)