Case Study

Funeral Firm Farewells Ad Hoc Marketing Approach


Southern Cross Funeral Directors is an accredited, family-owned business. Covering most of the greater Sydney region, the firm has been established in the funeral industry for more than 30 years.

Yet the firm’s MD Matthew Kwoka was frustrated. His significant marketing spend wasn’t translating into new customers. He also wanted to open up community conversations around death – still a thorny subject – but wasn’t sure how.

He decided to engage Amongst Marketing to see if there was a better way forward.


The funeral sector is highly competitive, often requiring a point of difference for businesses to stand out from the crowd. Some funeral homes offer all-female staff, for instance, while others market eco-friendly and sustainable services.

Funeral homes also face a singular marketing challenge – how to sell products and service packages to customers who are stressed and emotionally overwhelmed, at possibly the worst time of their lives.

It requires a delicate balance between direct speaking and sensitivity – an empathic approach which is still firmly grounded in business principles.

Customers are often confused and daunted by the entire funeral process, which is a barrier to full and meaningful discussion of the options available. With society placing death in the too-hard basket, people don’t routinely talk about a major life stage which affects and confronts us all.

We wanted to help bridge that gap – harnessing Matt’s go-ahead attitude and engaging personality, while using his extensive knowledge of the funeral industry to connect more directly with his customer base and the wider community.


Our objectives for the Southern Cross Funeral Directors marketing campaign were clear.

  • Stronger brand awareness. We needed to establish the family business expertise and culture as a key point of difference.
  • Increased market share. The aim was to win new customers, also leveraging stakeholder relationships to increase referral networks.
  • Deeper community engagement. We wanted to increase social media engagement, while educating and reframing the conversation around death.
  • Unified company culture. With staff in different offices working in silos, we aimed to integrate ad hoc marketing methods using consistent messaging.


We delivered a four-strand marketing strategy.

  1. Creating a community. Rather than ‘marketing’ funerals, we concentrated on building trust and loyalty to make the company easier to find and identify with. We revamped social media channels.
  2. Opening up the ‘death conversation’. By setting up a nationwide bereavement survey involving 1,000 people – an Australian first for the funeral industry – we introduced the human element to a challenging subject.
  3. Lifting Matt’s profile. We refreshed the company website and improved SEO. Then we branded Matt’s charisma with his own ‘Death Defined’ social media channel and videos. He has subsequently become the online ‘face of bereavement’, appearing on Kochie’s Business Builders and A Current Affair.
  4. Targeting pre-planned funerals. This is an ongoing campaign, appealing to the growing retirement demographic. These are designed for those who want to pre-arrange their own funeral process – easing the burden on loved ones.


In the 12 months following implementation of the marketing strategy, Southern Cross Funeral Directors experienced a significant increase in social media engagement, recognition and community interaction.

When compared to the previous year:

  • Social media saw a 250% increase in followers and likes, with a reach increase of 3,300%. Engagement increased by 50 times.
  • Unit sales increased by 12.3% over the previous financial year, with revenue up by 5.2%.
  • Organic traffic to the website saw an increase of 80%.
  • Better inbuilt visibility helps measure success of marketing tactics.
  • Multiple media opportunities made available across all areas, including newspaper/magazines, TV, radio, online interviews and podcasts.

Within 5 months of launching the new Death Defined brand:

  • Follows and likes of Death Defined social channel reached 30% of those on the existing Southern Cross Funeral Directors page.
  • Reach exceeded the current page by more than 13%.
  • Increase of more than 10% in page engagement and impressions.

Success is not all measured in numbers. Now:

  • Alliance partnerships continue to be strengthened, with other industry professionals helping market Southern Cross Funeral Directors and its services, including prepaid funerals.
  • Matt knows how his marketing dollar is spent.
  • He understands the purpose of marketing and is fully engaged with the process.

Matt is, however, happy for us to do the heavy lifting while he gets on with his core business – a win-win situation!

Also emerging as a genuine industry leader, Matt is cutting a path through the conventional wisdoms, and limitations, of the funeral sector. Now a media-friendly and recognisable personality, his Death Defined image resonates across the sector.