5 Marketing Hacks For Coworking Spaces In 2020

Bernie J Mitchell, content marketing expert for coworking spaces, shares 5 key ways operators can ramp up their marketing in 2020.
  • Bernie J Mitchell, content marketing expert for coworking spaces, shares 5 key ways operators can ramp up their marketing in 2020.
  • Bernie encourages operators to experiment with video and consider dropping unengaged subscribers from their email lists.
  • Above all, posting good content online regularly will build better results and reduce the amount operators spend on marketing in 2020.

According to his website, Bernie J Mitchell is “The Content Marketing Guy for Coworking Communities”. But that tongue in cheek title doesn’t quite do him justice. 

Bernie’s involved in so many coworking-related things it’s impossible to list them all. To give you an idea, here’s a handful:

In other words, he knows a thing or two about coworking communities and how to promote them.

Bernie at the Coworking Assembly.

I caught up with Bernie to pick his brains on what he thinks will be the biggest marketing trends of 2020. He quickly (and quite rightly) pointed out that “trends” is a bit of an annoying term because the same ones get regurgitated year after year.

So I’m using the word “hacks” instead. Which is still a bit annoying but hopefully less so. 

Here they are:

1. Experiment with video in 2020

Video is much easier to do now and people expect less than you think, explains Bernie. 

“In 2019, more people started using video on LinkedIn including my friends Aaron and Christina who run a podcasting company. 

“Every Tuesday without fail they publish a three-minute video that I subconsciously look forward to.” 

“I started creating my own videos this year too. I hated doing it at first but now I just sit here with my tripod, know I’ll look geeky and get on with it. 

“I’ve seen a 50% increase in people taking action, like RSVP’ing to an event or filling in a form after watching a video compared with reading an email.”

If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly on the likes of LinkedIn, Bernie recommends sharing videos with an internal audience first — people you already have a relationship with and who you want to connect a message to. 

2. Be honest about your space

“As a freelancer, I’m not bothered about how many coworking accolades or local business awards you’ve won, these don’t close the deal for anyone.

“Nor am I enchanted by you being the biggest, largest or anything ‘est.’

“What matters to me is the type of person I’ll be sitting next to. 

“I want to see who’s working in the space and if they’re too perfect I’ll be put off,” explains Bernie.

Freelancers and small businesses are more likely to join if the people working there can help them further their career, support them in learning new skills and help them grow. 

So, focus on creating honest content that showcases the inner workings of your space. Bernie recommends The Worker’s League as a good example on Instagram. 

“There are silly things on there all the time and it can be very funny. But it also shows what’s actually going on in the space.”

Tell The Truth: Honesty Is Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool by Sue Unerman and Jonathan Salem Baskin is a good book for anyone who wants to dive a little deeper. 

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“One of its key messages is that honesty saves energy and establishes trust quicker.

“People are always looking to establish a feeling of community and trust is key. In fact, trust is the most important part of a long term consistent business.”

“If you start off pretending and building a veneer you’ll build a weak foundation of trust,” Bernie adds.

3. Be genuinely inclusive and prove it

Bernie suggests that prospective members don’t give a hoot about the backstory of your coworking space. Instead, they’re eager to find out if they’ll fit into its current narrative. 

People want to be able to visualise themselves in the space.

“This is where inclusion and diversity comes in,” says Bernie. 

“My friend and coworker, Kofi, runs a project for young people in Hackney London called Urban MBA. We’re helping introduce his students to the world of freelancing and coworking so they can start to build contacts and get a foot in the door. 

“They wouldn’t necessarily think to join a coworking space because they don’t see themselves in the marketing content.”

4.  Aim for 1000 true fans

Coworking operators dabbling in email marketing will find this one so useful. 

Bernie explains:

“No one wants to sign up for your email blast, nor your self-promotional, self-important or last-minute event salvage emails. 

“Instead aim to send an email like Cat Johnson’s Coworking Out Loud every week.

Cat’s email is current to our industry, has actionable advice and keeps the connection to her open. 

“EVERY time I talk about email with a coworking space owner they say they don’t email because they don’t want to annoy people.

“Bear in mind that you only want to talk to people who are interested in what you’re doing. So, if people unsubscribe that’s good because they’re not interested! 

“I always end an email with something along the lines of “hit reply with what book you’re reading this week”. It’s a good way to open a dialogue and you’d be surprised at how many people respond.”

Bernie explains that after a decade of collecting contacts, his mailing list was 2,500 strong. Then one day he decided to send an email asking people if they wanted to unsubscribe. 

He suggested 10 reasons for unsubscribing, including: “You don’t know who I am” and “if you are only reading this out of politeness”.

In two days, 1,000 people unsubscribed. 

“I was ****ing myself as I sent it, but my engagement went up massively afterwards.” 

5. Curb the spending

“Before you spend loads of money on social ads or SEO, the best and most cost-effective SEO you can do these days is post content to your site, so get the basics right first,” says Bernie.

“I’ve met so many people who are spending up to a grand a month on SEO in an attempt to rank higher when they could blog regularly and move up the rankings organically.

“Tools like Yoast enable you to work out how to make your blog posts more SEO friendly. Hemmingway and Grammarly are great for building your confidence as a writer.

“Finally, don’t feel like you need to advertise. Some of the best coworking spaces I’ve visited are the ones people have referred me to, not the ones I’ve seen on ads. 

“Think about it: if your content is good, why would you have to pay to get people to watch it?”

And because we’re feeling generous, here’s a cheeky bonus tip. 

Don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none.

“As tempting as it is to try new things, you’ll build towards better results if you post content (that’s not rubbish) every week on the website for your coworking space than if you try to do a bit of everything.”

Sign up to Bernie’s newsletter for marketing tips & tricks – but only if you want to, not out of politeness!

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