You are currently viewing Marketing the Unmarketable

Marketing the Unmarketable

The Exchange Relationship

Marketing is all about creating exchange relationships that provide value for both the customer and the company. Value can mean something different for everyone, but according to The Advantage Newsletter (1999), it all comes down to the customer’s perception of three main criteria: characteristics, benefits, and desired end-states. Characteristics define the attributes of a product, benefits define the consequences of using a product, and the desired end-states define the hidden value achieved once the product has been used. These criteria, taken together, can help any company market the unmarketable.

Marketing the Unmarketable

Funeral services are an excellent example of a product that is never an easy sell. A funeral service is at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to marketing. Most people don’t want to think about the need for these services in advance, and those dealing with the death of a loved one are not in the frame of mind to be happy about seeking these services. Nevertheless, this is still an essential service, and one that everyone will have a need for eventually.

So how should a funeral service go about marketing the essential service that nobody really wants? According to Bonnie Price (2007), mastering this type of marketing means that a company must “emphasize the importance of the service, extreme customer care/service, and quality of all the components of the product” (Para. 2). By focusing on what I like to call the Three Cs of caring, compassion, and competence, a funeral parlor can work to develop a reputation for being sympathetic to the situation while handling the details with professionalism and consideration.

Bryan Tracy (2001) emphasizes the importance of differentiation in developing a marketing plan for an unmarketable product. In his article Customers for Life, Tracy (2001) goes on the state that “Differentiation refers to your ability to separate yourself and your product or service from that of your competitors” (Para. 7). By focusing on how their services are unique in comparison to the services their competitors offer, a funeral home can emphasize their distinctive style and the exceptional services that nobody else can provide. (Tracy, 2001)


I would think that the desired end-state for someone seeking funeral services is a dignified memorial that provides mourners with the opportunity to celebrate the deceased’s life while offering them a chance to say their final goodbyes. While this is never a happy occasion, the business that can provide the service with compassion and professionalism is likely to make a lasting impression on the family and friends of the departed.

In marketing this type of unwanted but necessary service, a funeral company would do well to emphasize their unique characteristics, their professionalism, and their ability to do the job tastefully with a minimum of fuss. Although nobody really wants to use the services offered, these distinct qualifications will help your company stand out from the crowd and will continue to provide value to the customer while enhancing the bottom line.


Price, B. (2007, August 30). Ask Entrepreneur: Sales and Marketing. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from Entrepreneur: 

The Advantage Newsletter. (1999). Creating Value for Customers. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from The Advantage Newsletter:

Tracy, B. (2001). Customers for Life. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from 1000 Advices: