- Flexible workspaces took a big hit during the onslaught of COVID-19.
- During these strange and challenging times, how can you show members that you can welcome them back safely? How do you protect your marketing budget while advertising your space where it counts?
- During a recent coworking convo, experts suggested updating your website, using keywords, over-communicating with measures you’re taking, and offering virtual tours.
Like most other hospitality and service-based industries, flexible workspace took a big hit during the onslaught of COVID-19. After many weeks of readjustment and hard work, spaces across the world are now slowly reopening with physical distancing measures.
But not all members are coming back.
They too have been hit by the impact of the virus, and those with affected businesses have had to cut costs where they can. For some, that meant cancelling workspace memberships.
So how do you fill those voids by marketing to new clients? During these strange and challenging times, how can you show members that you can welcome them back safely? How do you protect your marketing budget while advertising your space where it counts?
To help answer these questions, content marketing expert Cat Johnson hosted a Coworking Convo with workspace owners and marketers, to find out what works and what doesn’t. Over 280 people joined the call to listen, learn, and share their own experiences.
Here are Allwork.Space’s top takeaways.
1. Use your website keywords and images to reflect the current sentiment.
For Kim Seipel from CloudVO, one of her main priorities has been keeping their website content updated to reflect current search terms. It can also tap the sentiment of their target audience. For instance, during this time, people are looking for different things from their workspace; instead of collaborative space, they want private spaces or virtual offices with minimal human contact. So Kim updated their website H1 and H2 tags and page titles to reflect these search terms, and removed images showing people in gatherings or meetings.
Kim explained that she also published more content around virtual offices and digital mail to educate people on how these products help remote workers. “The digital mail business is a great add-on service, especially for the work from home workforce.”
2. Update your opening hours on local listings.
Most workspaces had to limit their opening hours during lockdown while some closed altogether. So another tip from Kim is to check your opening hours on local listings such as Google My Business.
“If you had a shelter in place order, you will need to change your hours to reflect your new business hours. To show people what you’re doing to provide a safe workplace environment, you can also add a link to your health and safety policy.”
3. Show people around, virtually.
Liz Elam from GCUC urged more use of virtual tours to enable potential members to see and experience the space, without being there in person. There’s no need for specialist or big budget equipment — the objective is to give people a feel for your space and talk them through it.
“All we’re trying to do is to make people feel safe and comfortable coming back. Some people walk around their space with an iPad or a phone and talk as they go, or you can have a Zoom meeting. It helps new members get to know the space and your community.”
Both Liz and Cat noted the importance of communicating as often as possible.
“Your members are waiting for you to tell them that it’s okay, and what it’s going to be like when they come into your space,” said Liz. “So tell them. Give them everything they need to know to feel safe.”
Over-communicate if necessary, as people can opt out if they want to. The key is to continually update your members (and potential new members) on the steps you have taken to make the workspace safe, and to ease anxieties by explaining what to expect when they step into your space for the first time.
“Use your content and make it really clear across your channels,” added Cat. “Don’t make your members wonder what’s going on. Be clear and transparent.”
5. Analyze your data to reach more people.
Discussing PPC, Karina Patel, Marketing Director at Pacific Workplaces, explained that she kept their ads running for remote services including virtual offices, mail forwarding, and digital mail, but switched everything else off.
“Now we’re in reopening mode, we’ve been switching on certain ad groups such as flexible office space. We’ve also updated our ad copy to reflect what the conversation is right now. For instance, avoid terms like ‘shared space’ and instead focus on what you’re doing to keep people in your space safe.”
Importantly, reflect what’s happening in your local area or county; use your ad copy and landing pages to show people that you understand the regulations and explain the steps you’re taking to implement those safety policies.
Karina also explained that she has been analyzing data on a weekly basis from their marketing campaigns and looking for trends. For example, your email newsletters might be proving more popular than Facebook or LinkedIn, in which case push most of your marketing conversations through email rather than social media.
“Keep updating and keep things changing, initially over the next 3 months, and keep analysing your data to see where your leads are coming in.”
6. Word of mouth referrals are gold.
“The best salespeople you have are your existing members,” said Liz.
This is your best and most trusted advertising channel, and it’s also your most cost-efficient. Speak to your members, particularly those who have been around for some time or the ones who are most engaged in your community, and ask them to put the word out for you.
It could be sharing your posts on social media or informing their business network about your space in an email or newsletter. You may want to offer them something in return — such as some free meeting room time, or a day in a private office.
Bonus Tips from the Convo Community
Every Convo is interactive and, in addition to expert speakers, participants are invited to ask questions or share best practice advice. Here are some bonus tips from the Convo community:
- Get some free media exposure by sending out a press release about your space. Start with Cat’s press release course to learn how to attract the attention of your local media outlets.
- Some spaces are offering a ‘family plan’ to help working parents based at home. It allows couples to share the coworking membership tag team style, so while one parent stays at home with the kids, the other can use the space.
- ‘Try it Tuesday’. On the first Tuesday of every month, people can come in and try the space or book a meeting room for an hour, for free.
- Use aggregators to market your space, such as Croissant, DeskPass, and Upflex.
- Try a punch card system to enable members to share their membership with other people in their friend or business circle. For instance, 10 visits to be used within 90 days. It will help members to split the cost of their membership during the current situation, and it will also bring new people into your space.
The next Coworking Convo is June 26: How Can We Attract Remote Workers, WFH and Corporates? Head over to catjohnson.co/coworking-convos to find out more and sign up for free.