Recently, I was working from my home office and the power went out. So, I ventured to a nearby coffee shop to keep working.
This particular coffee shop sells Nutella lattes, and let me tell you, they are divine. If only coworking spaces had such beverages… (hint to workspace owners). But I digress.
I was walking down the main street towards the local coffee shop when I happened to notice a few brightly coloured posters stapled to both sides of a community billboard.
The posters said things like, “A coworking space in your neighbourhood.” and “League Coworking is a space for professionals, freelancers and startups getting things done in Toronto’s West End.”
This spoke to me because I am interested in coworking space marketing strategies, for one, and I was also interested in finding a neighbourhood coworking space to work out of for couple days a week.
It was also speaking to “people like me” in their messaging, so I knew it was a potential fit for my needs.
I gave them a call, visited their workspace the next day, and that same week I was a member.
Why did this work on me?
Like all good marketing, these posters succeeded in attracting me to the space for a combination of three reasons:
- They had the right message – the messaging was relevant, clear, and specific about the intended audience
- I saw it at the right time – I was already considering finding a local workspace;
- It was in the right place – it had to be within walking distance of my house.
The posters were also bright orange and had pictures of people working in the space. They were hard to miss and appeared to be intentionally designed to capture my attention.
The strategies at play
Their strategy is a combination of two factors, as far as I can tell.
League Coworking focused their efforts on the neighbourhood in which it served, staying within walking distance from the workspace.
Had they posted the flyers in a different part of town, it is unlikely they would have reached their target market so successfully.
2. Clear targeting
By focusing their messaging on coworking for professionals, freelancers and startups, I knew it was different than the other workspaces in the neighbourhood that focus on architects or artists. It was clear and unambiguous positioning.
The tactics at play
The tactic they used, in this case, was putting posters on sanctioned bulletin boards around the neighbourhood. This is different than other guerrilla strategies, which can be a bit more “grey hat”, such as chalking a sidewalk or even illegal methods, such as by placing posters on telephone poles and construction walls. I am all for guerrilla marketing, but not the illegal kind.
Another element to this tactic is their visually compelling design. In general, people tend to make emotional purchase decisions, and part of that includes the “look and feel” of a space. Members want to be inspired by their surroundings, so the imagery and colours you use in your branding need to be attractive. Having people in the photos goes a long way too.
How they could take it to the next level
I discovered this coworking space’s posters serendipitously. Had my power not gone out, I may have missed seeing them entirely, and therefore would never have become a member. Here’s what I would do if I were them to continue this campaign.
1. Ask all new members how they found out about your workspace, then do more of that marketing tactic (because it works).
The owners of this space ask each new lead where they found out about the workspace. And they keep a record of that (see the final section in this article). If something works, do more of it until it doesn’t work anymore. And then maybe try it again in 6 months to capture new opportunities.
2. Ask local stores and non-profits to post your flyers on their bulletin boards
This idea won’t work for certain types of shared offices, but for coworking spaces that focus on local neighbourhoods, it could be a great opportunity. Especially if you target solo professionals and freelancers who work from home or their local coffee shop.
There are all kinds of businesses that might be willing to cooperate. Knock on the doors of coffee shops, community theatres, CrossFit gyms, recreation centres, churches, and any other local establishment willing to be a friend. Find a way to return the favour if you can (i.e. offer member benefits/offers to their business to drive your members back to them in return).
3. Send flyers by direct mail, too.
This is one of my favourites. If you run a “neighbourhood” coworking space, chances are there is all kinds of untapped potential to gain new members via direct mail.
In Canada—and I am sure in most other countries too—you can send flyers to an entire city block or neighbourhood using postal codes. There are also flyer delivery services who can do it on the cheap.
Send it to every single residential address you can find in the area. If local is your advantage, there’s no better way than to absolutely dominate the area with your message than through direct mail.
Do this every four months, especially if it works. They say it takes multiple impressions of a brand before people take notice, so don’t be shy. The cost is minute compared to the upside potential.
In a world full of digital marketing tactics and strategies, sometimes old-school guerrilla marketing tactics work extremely well. Especially when locality is your main competitive advantage.
Bonus: A conversation with the founders
Since I work out of League Coworking a couple days a week, I have access to co-founders Jeremy Little and Michael Muir. I asked them to read this article and answer a few questions to make this article more complete. Here’s what they said:
What prompted you to try this strategy?
- Through research, we discovered that over 60% of coworking users list location as one of their top factors for deciding on a space.
- We experienced a lot of traction when we targeted local Facebook groups, so we figured this was the physical equivalent.
What were the results?
- In the month since posting, 50% of inquiries have been driven from flyering.
- We received our first customer inquiry 2 hours after we began flyering.
Any other advice you would offer?
- Members will travel for the right environment and space so don’t be afraid to flyer outside of your immediate area.
- The areas/businesses that you decide to target should be frequented by those that match your customer avatar. Look at where your current members frequent if you don’t have an avatar.
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