The way we work is changing, with hybrid working models, remote working, and working near home all contributing to a rise in demand for coworking spaces. But abundant demand doesn’t necessarily mean that acquiring occupiers is a walk in the park – you still need to take steps to get their attention. This is especially true as market competition grows, as it is right now, and there are more operators for occupiers to choose from.
So, learning how to market a coworking space is an increasingly essential task and marketing should be a prominent element of your coworking business plan. But there are many ways to market a coworking space, so where do you start? This is our list of the ten most important elements of a coworking marketing plan to start you off.
1. Build a strong website
Your website is the first interaction with your brand that the majority of new customers will have – consider it the digital ‘face’ of your space. For this reason, it’s pivotal that your website accurately represents your brand and all it has to offer. This is your chance to sell your space, so make sure that occupiers understand what makes it special and the value it can provide to them.
Another consideration is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which is an organic marketing channel that can provide long-term acquisition opportunities with a reasonable level of ongoing effort. Getting an expert to help you make sure your website is optimised as early in the process as possible can reap huge rewards.
Above all else, you must make sure that information about your offering is easily accessible. If occupiers can’t find key info regarding pricing, amenities, opening times, etc., then they are far more likely to leave your website and go elsewhere. People make decisions based on information – they can’t decide to sign up as a member of your space if they don’t know what they’re signing up to.
2. Build a local digital presence
Coworking spaces are generally targeted at a primarily local audience, which means building a local digital presence is a very important element of an effective coworking marketing strategy. The first step is to create a Google My Business listing, this enables search engine users in your location to find you on both traditional Google search results and Google Maps. Key information about your business is visible in these listings, so users will be able to immediately get an idea of what it offers.
Following that, you can extend your audience by listing your company on popular directory websites, such as Yelp and 192.com, where occupiers are also searching. There is a lot of value in paying attention to your local digital presence – you’re targeting people who already want what you’re offering, so they should be easier to convert into customers.
3. Leverage social media
In the modern world we almost live inside our phones, with the average person spending over two hours a day on social media alone. That may sound a lot, but it’s a great opportunity for coworking operators; social media is about selling a lifestyle, which is exactly what coworking spaces seek to cultivate.
The ‘story’ feature that many platforms have is a useful way to promote daily offers and events. Each platform is unique, you just need to figure out what works and run with it. For example, platforms like LinkedIn allow you to connect directly with your target market, while others like Instagram allow you to be more creative and develop a strong brand presence.
If you’re not fully convinced about social media’s benefits, it’s worth remembering that once a customer ‘follows’ you, there is a direct line of communication established between you. This means you have the opportunity to recapture old occupiers, convert potential leads, and talk to existing occupiers all without having to spend a penny.
4. Consider paid channels
Depending on your budget, consider extending your social media marketing to include Facebook Ads. You can target users based on interest to make sure you’re hitting the right people, or even just ‘boost’ unpaid posts to increase visibility (the more you pay, the more people see your post). Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and most smaller platforms also have advertising capability, so you can choose where’s going to be most valuable to spend your money.
Google Ads is the king of pay per click advertising, where you only pay for clicks on your ad rather than for your ad to be shown in the first place. The scope of keywords that can be targeted, the budgeting options, the demographic information available, and the reporting tools all help you to build a cost-efficient campaign that’s bespoke to your business.
Traditional paid media also shouldn’t be underestimated – magazines, billboards, and radio can all still be very effective channels when done right, even if knowing where to start can be intimidating. And one of the biggest benefits of paid channels is that results don’t take time to build, so if you have desks sitting empty right now, you can do something about it immediately.
5. Focus on reviews
We’re more likely to try something for the first time if we have seen others do the same and enjoy it – it’s called pack mentality. This is why reviews are so important for pretty much any business but especially flexible workspaces, where customers cannot return the product if they feel they have made a mistake. With reviews, customers can preview the experience of using your space, so building positive reviews has a direct impact on a potential customer’s likelihood of signing up.
Taking the time to respond to negative reviews is almost as important. Communicating constructively with unhappy customers gives you the chance to show you’re keen to resolve issues and can help ease the minds of those reading the reviews. One final benefit of focusing on reviews is the positive knock-on effect on SEO, as good reviews send the message to Google that your site and business are to be trusted.
6. Host regular events
Hosting events should be a mainstay in any coworking operator’s calendar. Depending on the type of event, you can give occupiers the opportunity to network, improve their business, expand their knowledge pool, or just have fun! This is great for existing customers and should hopefully result in some natural word of mouth marketing, but it’s also a good way of introducing the space to new potential occupiers.
Events create a sense of excitement, helping to draw new customers in. Once they’re inside, these potential occupiers begin to feel connected to the space and will keep it in mind once they’ve left the building. Of particular value are events that directly involve your target market, so try getting in touch with your local chamber of commerce to see if they would like to host or collaborate on events in your space. LinkedIn Local is another useful tool for connecting with businesses near you.
7. Craft local connections
Events aren’t the only way to build connections in your area – you can also contact local businesses and strike partnerships. For example, a local coffee shop advertises your workspace in store and in return, you agree to use their own-brand beans in the space’s kitchen. You can make your offering more attractive to customers by providing amenities and discounts for other businesses nearby, like at a local gym. By doing this, you are making your occupiers’ lives easier by both removing the effort of finding a gym and saving them money on membership.
One final point is that it’s worth going the extra mile to craft a relationship with the local press. They may well be interested in running pieces on events you’re hosting, new features or amenities you’re adding, or anything else that could benefit the local residents (who just happen to be your target market!).
8. Offer perks and rewards
Following on from the previous point, any perks, rewards or incentives are going to work wonders when it comes to getting new occupiers through the door. You could hand out free beers every Friday, sign up for four days and get the fifth free, create a refer a friend scheme, or offer free tickets to seminars – whatever makes the most sense for your coworking brand. And perks don’t have to be light-hearted; if you’re willing and able to invest in offering childcare on site, for example, then the commercial pay-off can be huge.
9. Pursue guest post opportunities
Reaching out to other businesses in similar or relevant industries and offering to write a guest post for their site is another great way of introducing your brand to a wider audience. Be smart about who you reach out to – does their product relate to yours? Do they pursue the same market that you do? Choose carefully who you work with and make sure that any exposure is of the most value possible.
As with reviews, a relevant backlink from a guest post can aid your SEO strategy by improving your website’s authority in the eyes of Google. Authority is a ranking factor for Google’s search algorithm, so improving authority means pushing your site higher up Google’s search results (and the higher your site is listed, the more traffic it gets).
10. Talk to your audience
Before we go too far off the deep end, don’t forget that it’s people you’re trying to get through to and sometimes the simplest thing to do is, well, talk to them. Our ability to communicate is what sets us apart from other species and genuinely speaking to your audience is one the best chances you have to persuade them why your workspace is right for them.
There are plenty of options for how to go about this – you could join a community group, attend industry conferences, or go old school and make a list of local businesses and freelancers to reach out to via email. Taking a more personal approach will help to set you apart from the competition and create a strong impression on occupiers.