Ashes to ashes and dust to…diamonds?
Eterneva is making it possible for those in mourning to memorialize their loved ones in an everlasting way — by turning cremated ashes into diamonds.
Eterneva diamonds are certainly turning heads, picking up regular press and even a mention in Keeping Up With the Kardashians. But while the story is certainly sensational, grief is sensitive subject matter, which means that Co-founder Adelle Archer has to stay focused on education and transparency in order to gain customer trust.
In this episode of The Empowered Marketer, we’re talking to Adelle about:
- The importance of video content when creating transparency
- How customer stories and PR have been a large part of Eterneva’s strategy
- Why Eterneva relies on an inbound marketing model and word-of-mouth
Listen to the Full Episode
Top Episode Takeaways
Cara Hogan: How do you overcome buyers’ hesitation and help them see the value of Eterneva?
Adelle Archer: When somebody is going through such a hard period in their life, I think they are very cautious of not being taken advantage of. Their radar is even higher than normal. I think it’s all about trust and transparency.
We live and die by our values [at Eterneva]. We absolutely are obsessed with delivering the best experience we humanly can to our customers. But people don’t necessarily know that coming in.
It always starts with a very personal phone call. We don’t want to know how somebody’s loved one died; we want to know who they were as a person by taking a genuine interest, and asking, “Hey, I’d love to hear a couple stories.” You wouldn’t believe how many people are experiencing loss, and nobody’s asked them that question. Everyone is like, “Oh, I’m so sorry. How’d they die?” Or “What happened?” They don’t get asked, “Tell me about them.”
Right off the bat, by having a human interaction with people, they realize that you actually care, and you’re meeting a need that nobody else is meeting. From there, it’s really layering on a lot of trust and transparency. Showing them exactly how we’re doing what we’re doing. We send pictures, videos, updates of every step of the process.
At our diamond growth lab, our scientist will be showing, “Here’s your loved one’s carbon.” Everybody has their own unique number, so there’s no way that they can get mixed up. Everybody is worked on one at a time, individually. It’s all on video, so you feel really confident and you can watch exactly what’s happening. We’ve brought in team members from the aerospace industry. We think about where is there a zero tolerance for any mistakes, ever? Those are the industries that we hire from.
We talk about that a lot, both on our call, but also on our site and our social media. I think that’s been a huge differentiator compared to our competitors. It’s just humanizing our team, doing a lot of behind-the-scenes type stuff. Our Instagram stories are some of our best performing. You just see how genuine our whole team is about loving what we do, and just caring so much.
Cara: Why did you decide to focus so much on video, specifically?
Adelle: We’re only a team of twelve, and we’re bringing a full-time videographer in-house. For a small team, that’s surprising that’d be one of our early hires. Video is a huge part of our strategy.
The reason behind that is because what we do is we create beautiful diamonds, but that’s really not what our business is about. Behind every single diamond, there’s the story of a remarkable person and a remarkable life that would just blow you away when you get to hear them. So we can’t help but be inspired by those stories. I think that when you share those stories in a really human way, that’s what brings you a future customer. They see our customer stories, and it helps them envision what it would feel like to carry a piece of them with them, every single day, in a bright, beautiful, and positive way, and do something that is really special to honor them.
We don’t want to be the ones telling them that this is what they have to do. I think it’s more about them experiencing what this has done for other people and deciding if it feels right for them. The best way to do that, I think, is to do it through video.
On top of that, our broader mission as a company is to “Remember Remarkably.” We see it as our job to ensure that people’s legacies live on and they continue to be talked about. We think obituaries are terrible at capturing who somebody was as a person. Video is important to capture the richness of their story and to unpack their personality, to really give people a sense of what that person was like.
Cara: Because there’s such a wide variety of people, how do you actually find them and market to them?
Adelle: We’ll always been an inbound model, 100%. We want people coming to us with a genuine curiosity, wanting to learn more, and deciding if this feels right or not. We will tell them if this may not be right for them.
Word of mouth is one of our most important channels, which is “fun” from a marketer’s standpoint, because it’s not quite as measurable as digital. I think for us, only 10% of the US knows that you can even do this, so it’s all about awareness building.
What’s really interesting is that this is such an interesting and unique product that people talk about it once they hear about it. It’s over the Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s on social media that somebody sees it and goes, “Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. My hairdresser just lost his dog, I should totally share this with him.” That’s our customer.
What we’ve noticed is if you tell really great human stories, they’ll get organically shared and amplified. It’s really a focus on building an engaged community. Also, from our customer side, we talk a lot about creating raving fans. We want every single customer to be raving about Eterneva. We’ve had customers calling us from the jeweler’s office saying, “Hey, I have 10 people in here. All of them love what I’m doing. Can you give a consultation to all of them?”
They are our warrior advocates. I think we have a 10% referral rate of closed business. That’s not including all of the leads that they bring us. I think a lot of our X factor growth is going to be coming from word of mouth.
Cara: Why did you choose to focus on PR? Was it to keep driving that word of mouth?
Adelle: It’s huge for awareness, of course. You think, how do you build awareness? PR!
It’s been a really impactful strategy, more than we even expected. We were actually the first funeral company ever to make the cover of INC magazine. Then we were featured in Yahoo! Finance, NBC On the Money, Keeping up with the Kardashians, the list goes on.
It’s had a huge impact for us in two different ways. It’s given us a lot of credibility in the funeral industry, because they’ve never seen a funeral product become part of a mainstream conversation and cast in a positive light. Usually it’s weird, ghoulish. It’s been easier to engage with funeral homes, and that’s a huge channel we’re launching right now, and really showing them the new direct-to-consumer way to think and talk about our product and our space. It’s also given us a ton of local Austin credibility and investor credibility. It’s been huge for our fundraising and our hiring.
I think every single PR piece that we’ve ever had has driven at least one deal for us. I think that’s because a lot of people just have ashes at their home that they’ve been trying to figure out what to do with. They hear about this, they call in. It’s been very interesting, having worked at Trendkite, thinking about different PR. You always think that the Yahoo! Finance hit is the winner, or whatever the big publication is is going to be the one that drives everything. It’s been quite the opposite.
Local broadcast performs unbelievably well; it drives the most traffic and the most leads. Also, we had a feature on 60 Second Docs. They do these super short, heartwarming videos. They did a little document on Eterneva, and it went absolutely viral. It got picked up by SnapChat’s Discover feed. It drove a month’s worth of leads in an hour.
Thank you to our episode sponsor, Intercom.