This is the first blog in a two-part guest series by Mara Savina Falstein at ShareDesk.
Welcome to the first blog in a two part series on ‘Running a Successful Coworking Space’ by ShareDesk. We’ve partnered with Kisi to share with you a few of our biggest takeaways, inspired by talks we’ve had for our ongoing series Coworking Manager’s Guide To… In this first installment, we focus on two ways to attract new members to your space: Interior Design and Marketing Your Venue.
Create a Space Which Offers Your Members Both Flexibility and Fun
When it comes to truly innovative interior design, coworking spaces must appeal to a number of delicate balancing acts. Office environments should foster productivity but also collaboration, appealing to both introverts and extroverts. Some of the most inspiring coworking spaces turn the idea of a ‘traditional office’ on its head entirely by designing spaces which feel more like coffee shops or loft parties and less like the cubicled offices of decades past.
B.sorted, a work space in Bucharest, Romania, was designed around the concept that no employee should be stuck working at a desk. Their solution includes lots of nooks tucked into the architecture of the space, which allows for productivity for everyone regardless of their preferred work environment. Between their color scheme, foosball table, and ceiling hammocks, they clearly don’t suffer from any shortage of fun and playful, either.
Offering a more more clean and modern aesthetic, Cape Town-based coworking space Work&Co also offers plenty of seating options which mimic everything from what you’d expect to find in a traditional office to a coffeeshop, a friend’s living room to a kitchen island, all with a very polished and modern look to set you up for success when tackling that daunting to-do list.
The Office Space, coworking spaces out of Sydney, Australia, offer members lots of areas with natural-light to get their work done with many types of seating arrangements and privacy levels that feel inviting and warm.
Pull Inspiration From Coffee Shops and Cafes Too
Why limit design inspiration to coworking offices? After all, the spirit of coworking in many ways more closely resembles the work style you’d see in a coffee shop than a traditional office.
We love the quirky architecture of the 9 ¾ bookstore in Columbia, which features hexagonal nooks designed for cozying up with a good book. Along with adding lots of visual interest to break up a room, little spaces like these in the context of a coworking space help give those who seek the quiet a space to knock through some to-do’s (or even take a little catnap).
Many coworking spaces such as Farm SoHo NYC and TechSpace NYC (pictured above), have already taken a page out of the coffee shop’s proverbial design book, seeking to mimic the environment where many of their members feel most comfortable getting work done.
Marketing Your Venue
So now that you’ve designed your coworking space and have a vision for who you want to attract as members… how do you go about filling your new coworking space and building a presence in your community?
Market Before You Launch
Ideally, you should gain some traction and word of mouth interest for your coworking space by starting your marketing efforts ahead of your official opening. According to DeskMag’s Global Coworking Survey, two in three coworking spaces start promoting their space at least a few months before they officially launch. In our eyes, it’s never too early to start! Even if your space isn’t ready yet, it’s worth building relationships out in the community in order to start to generate a buzz. However, it’s also never too late to start (or resume, if you’ve fallen off the marketing wagon). There’s always room for improvement and truly efficient marketing campaigns are always running in the background in order to stay engaged with your community online and offline.
Befriend Your Neighbors
Take it to the streets. Look for opportunities to work with the other local companies in your community. This could take many forms: asking local restaurants to cater events at your coworking space, looking to get your members discounts for the local businesses they might be interested in utilizing (restaurants, parking lots, gyms, car share services, etc.), even simply walking into local businesses and introducing yourself; the possibilities are endless. Darryl Bosa, founder of Vancouver-based SpaceKraft, sees the discounts he’s been able to offer to his members from the community surrounding his coworking space as one of three crucial pillars of SpaceKraft’s membership proposal. In Darryl’s eyes, finding ways to lower his members’ overall monthly expenses allows them to spend more time (and money) on running their business and enjoying their personal life with less stress, which is a pretty persuasive value proposition.
Getting into the habit of constantly introducing yourself and having conversations about your space is a great exercise. You never know who might be a resource for you, and it’s a great way to “walk the walk” of running a space all about community if you establish yourself as a community-building champion of your neighborhood.
Social Media is one of the most affordable and most effective ways for you to market your coworking space, if done efficiently. The first decision to make is whether you’re targeting a hyper local (mostly monthly memberships and dedicated desks) or global audience (appealing to the travelling business executives and digital nomads looking for less permanent solutions), or some combination of the two. Look to follow the kinds of people who you’d love to have as members, coworking spaces you’d love to emulate, and writers who spend their time deep in the trenches of breaking coworking news. See what they’re posting about and jump into conversation. Search hashtags like #coworking, #startup, and #entrepreneur to get news and new connections. There are so many ways to build community digitally and it’s definitely worth your time.
Add Events and Courses to Your Roster
Hold events at your coworking space (workshops, panel discussions, even film screenings or art shows) to give people the chance to experience your space without committing to a membership. Kolektif House is a great example, as they were able to bring 6,000 people into their space in their first year when they made the decision to funnel $1000 of their marketing budget into throwing events instead of using Google Adwords. A great way to build engagement for your space is to offer opportunities for those using your space to channel their expertise into leading lunch-and-learns or teaching more intensive courses. Opening these up the the public (while offering your own members a discounted enrollment fee) is a great way to build interest and credibility for your space in your local community and keep your more senior members engaged.
Market Your Space on ShareDesk
Perhaps one of the best options for marketing your coworking space would be listing it on ShareDesk (though we of course might be just a bit biased). Leverage ShareDesk’s community of thousands of users searching to find their next space by setting up a beautiful venue profile which will allow you to capture and manage new leads, growing your member base and visibility.
Listen, Listen, Listen.
When you begin marketing your coworking space, you don’t really know who you will attract to join your community. But once you start gaining members, they will help define your space so make sure you’re bringing them into the conversation. Engaged, happy members will want to spread the gospel of your space organically and that kind of “word of mouth marketing” is some of the hardest to come by and the most effective. At the end of the day, your space can’t be purely about making money–you’ll see the most bang for your buck by focusing on the needs of the people who use your space.
What’s your favorite feature of your coworking space? Got any marketing tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And be sure to look for Part II of this series to be hitting the Kisi blog next month.
ShareDesk is the leading global platform for on-demand workspaces. With over 5,000 venues across 40 countries, the ShareDesk marketplace helps mobile professionals seamlessly discover and access on-demand work and meeting spaces. With ShareDesk Optix, the company provides cloud-based solutions to help real estate managers and companies create smart and flexible office environments with a beautiful mobile-first experience.