How Digital is Pinnacle?

Finding the right balance of digital and traditional marketing is a source of confusion for many in the funeral business because digital advertising has gotten got so varied and complex.

There are many avenues to consider: search, social, and display as broad categories. But it’s not uncommon for businesses to try Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging, programmatic ad buying, AI and so on.

The platforms themselves also change often and, without a dedicated employee, it’s easy to burn through resources and waste time without getting results.

Moreover, outside vendors tend not to favor the small independents or simply cost too much, and IT people will give advice but it’s not their specialty. Everyone has an opinion about marketing, but when it comes to digital few are willing to recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know.

Somehow Pinnacle Funeral Service, the Atlanta-based acquisition and management company, has managed to wade through this enormous list of complications without getting discouraged.

“Our traditional advertising efforts are pretty much where they’ve always been. Awareness for sure, but also being active in our communities,” says Paul Haarer, CEO of Pinnacle Funeral Services. “The digital side needed to become a focus. It’s almost like our special forces, providing more specific strategy and support.”

Pinnacle doesn’t make it a practice to step in and take local control of the funeral homes’ outreach efforts.

Instead, staffers on the ground are trusted to know what’s happening in each community. They’re then encouraged to come up with ideas and ready their responses when an opportunity for awareness, sponsorship or even a media bargain does come up.

However, Pinnacle recently turned to a more centralized model for their digital work, realizing that one of the best ways to gain efficiency was to pull the digital pieces together and get good at the ones that hold the most promise.

“Being everywhere, trying too many things at once is almost the same as being nowhere. There’s just no impact if you’re taking on too much or not focused on the right areas,” Haarer says. Keep in mind that Haarer has managed digital advertising at an advanced level himself, so he knows how labor intensive it can be.

He insists that measurement is key and that doing things by gut just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Local staff are also encouraged to play a role in email acquisition, updating the CRM database and inviting customers to review the funeral home online. Plus, content that can be created on site is digital-marketing gold when developed and published properly.

“There are some basics that just about anyone can learn, and then there are some practices that require an advanced level of training and experience,” Haarer says. “We think we’ve found the right balance for now. If it changes, we’ll be changing right along with it.”

To learn more about Pinnacle Funeral Service and its operational advantages, contact Paul Haarer by email at or browse our website.

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