If you manage a coworking or shared work space then you may be curious to find out what organic and online marketing strategies actually work for coworking spaces. We’ve experimented with all of them and here is our list of the best tried and tested methods:-
# 1 “Live Chat” on your website
If you run a coworking space then you absolutely must try this on your website. It was made for coworking, particularly as many potential new members don’t actually know what coworking is all about just yet.
Live chat is a optional pop up box that rests at the bottom of the web page which discreetly prompts the user to engage in an online chat with a sales representative. While testing, we were shocked at the high level of uptake by web visitors – in all, about 20% of site traffic. It really seems that more and more people prefer not to speak or wait for a reply to an email. The underlying desire is to get answers there and then. Instantly.
It doesn’t feel spammy and you can tailor how it functions. For example, it can sit at the bottom of the page with a small text heading saying “chat now” or you can also set it to pop up after say, 30 seconds of page viewing. If the user engages, an instant messaging chat begins where your sales rep responds in real time to questions about your space and membership packages. The software also allows you to incorporate links, attachments and canned responses in the chats.
# 2 Promoting your members
Some of your members will have big networks of their own. Tap into that by promoting them whenever possible and make it easy for them to share. For example, if they have a business win or receive an award or accolade then share it on your social networks. Ask a new member if they want to be profiled and do a short piece on them explaining what they do, what makes them unique and interesting. Include a photo of them, preferably in your space. Invite your members to send you content and push it out on your own channels with accreditation. All this makes it easy for your members to want to share your content.
# 3 Implement community software
Coworking space software has come a long way in the last 18 months and most now have a fully fledged community element where members can upload their profiles, chat and interact. There are many software packages available but one of the best one we’ve seen so far is Nexudus which is an all round management, CRM and billing software but you should play around with a few to get the right fit. Others include Happy Desk, Hub Create, and Cobot. Search online for “coworking software”. Free trials are available for most of them.
# 4 Get to know your members online
Support your members on Twitter, Instagram & add them to your circles in Google. Engage with them on social – congratulate them on any new milestone their business may have reached, if they are welcoming a new member of posting interesting content. As you’re B2B, you could also connecting with on LinkedIn.
Tip: Twitter allows you to create segmented lists of people you follow which eliminates the need to search your entire timeline for your clients.
# 5 Use the Google Adwords Display Network
Okay, so you will need to spend a bit of time getting to know this one but it’s worth it. It works best in two ways. The first is by creating an audience list in your AdWords account which, over time, generates list of visitors who have viewed your coworking space website in the last 30 days. You can also go granular and create a list of visitors who have viewed a specific, identified web page.
You’ll then need craft a display ad (google makes this easy with templates based on your site), set up a campaign where this ad is marketed to your audience list. Once your list is populated with a thousand or so users (which may take time depending on your web traffic), you can re-market your display ad to them across the Google Display Network. The Network comprises a huge number of websites to include news and other popular sites that have agreed to allow google to serve display ads on them.
You can also create your own audience for display re-marketing by uploading at least 500 of your own permission based email addresses to google Adwords. If those emails are associated with a gmail account which Adwords recognizes, then google will present your ad to those account holders on its display network.
# 6 Stay Connected to Past Members
As long as you are adding value each time you engage online your members, many will eventually become your marketing and social media ambassadors. When they leave (it happens!), do your best to retain them as alumni who refer your space to others and reuse your external services such as meeting rooms, event space and virtual offerings.
# 7 Set up a Goal “Check-In” Group
One Morning a week, participating members share their work objectives for the week ahead. On, say Friday morning, those members reconnect and discuss their progress as well as the ups and downs they experienced. This strategy provides a level of accountability which can be lacking when members work solo plus it’s a great way to introduce new members to each other and accelerate serendipity.
# 8 Get some “Know-How” into your Space
Part of the reason for joining a coworking space is not only to connect but also to learn. Gaining new kills and insights are an important value proposition for new and existing members. It’s easy to set up and can be a win-win. Try reaching out to a local digital marking agency and ask them if they would like to participate in a 30 minute chat and Q&A with your members about marketing, or get your accountant in to talk about setting up a business. Entice members to turn up with free pizza.
# 9 Train and retrain your community manager
The optimal time to set a pattern of member behavior for members is at move in. Ensure that your new member is introduced to other members with a casual mention of what the members does. Be sure that new members are aware of the events program and offer to help set up their community software online profiles with them at move in.
# 10 Highlight the amenities local to your area
Set yourself apart by being a rich information source for your members and prospects. What are the best cafés in the local Area ? What are the local gyms? Is there child care nearby? How accessible are the transport networks to and from your space?
Don’t just assume that someone who is considering your space knows the area and it’s hidden treasures. Instead, enhance your chances of standing out from your competitors by highlighting the local landscape and what it has to offer. Be sure to tag the venues in your posts as they will likely share in turn with their own network.
# 11 Design for collaboration
Have you ever noticed how people waiting in a line tend to look at their phones whereas people waiting side by side, by a bar for example, are more likely to interact? Well, this idea is easy to work into your coworking space. A community that provides for true collaboration is a community that retains its members. Coffee, possibly the greatest ice breaker of all time, is central to any hub so set up your coffee station in a place that allows people to gather and chat. Design a notice board along the same lines. Position shared and semi-private seating so that peripheral version allows passive eye contact. Place rubiks cubes on a shared table and watch how it sparks interaction.
# 12 Partner with the Local Business Community
Uncover local networking events particularly those that touch on enterprise, start up and business growth. These are where your new coworking members are going to be. Engage with them by taking an interest in their business. Make contact with your Local Authority, Chambers of Commerce and your local Business Network Chapter. Many Local Authorities run regular enterprise programs designed to get start-ups and small business going and can recommend you.
# 13 Focus on one or two social media platforms.
Resist the urge to be active on every single social media platform. Our advice – pick two and become a master on them. Your choice will depend on your space and member profile. Instagram is becoming super popular for coworking spaces but also consider twitter and FB. Remember, conversion on social is hard. You’re running a marathon not a sprint and view the work on your social channels as more of a brand awareness exercise then a lead generation tool. SEO and paid marketing are better for direct pipeline but a prospect will nearly always check your social networks before signing up.
# 14 Don’t forget about Email
Okay, this one is obvious I hear you say. We’ll it’s worth a more detailed look because as a coworking space operator, you already have a unique and trust based email connection with your member. Email marketing can leverage this connection by highlighting new products, events and special offers whilst providing high value content. You can also use email to remarket and reengage with lost leads. Don’t just send one newsletter, segment and tailor it to resident clients, shared work space clients, virtual clients, new leads and prospects.
# 15 Facebook Paid Promotion
We’ve tried Twitter ads and also Pinterest and Instagram but we’ve had by far the most success on paid promotion with Facebook. It just seems to work for coworking spaces.
Facebook allows very specific audience targeting through paid promotion. You can serve your ads to a startup business in early stage development or freelancers who may need a virtual office or meeting room use. A well crafted Facebook Ad campaign will also drive web traffic & generate likes and shares which some potential member (rightly or wrongly), may use to judge your ability to generating a true community.
What’s magic is that using email addresses, you can also create an audience of lost leads in a similar way to the google display network audience list. Facebook will use the email addresses you provide to see if any of them are associated with a Facebook account. If so, yep, you’ve guessed it… Facebook will serve up your ad to your contact on their news feed. A great example of how re-marketing should work. Thanks Facebook :)
#16 Play the long game.
Promotion of your brand off line and online is time consuming and unless you’re spending big on paid ads, you won’t see much direct ROI. For coworking spaces, its about community, brand awareness and brand reinforcement. Consider a prospect on your website who has several competitor spaces to choose from – to help him decide, he takes a look at your last three tweets. What would you do if you were him ?