We’re likely all aware that advertising and marketing have a bit of a tarnished reputation. As a marketer myself, I’m hyper-aware of it! People can sadly make all sorts of inaccurate claims from misleading information or exaggerated details, on through to full-blown falsifications to get a sale over the line. And unfortunately this affects the coworking market as well.
This guest post is written by Ryan Chatterton. He is the Content Director at Habu, a super simple coworking and workspace management software.
That’s why I want to take a look at the virtues and benefits of marketing your space for what it is. What follows are a few common areas that we tend to fluff up when it comes to coworking marketing. I also offer some much better alternatives that will keep your marketing accurate, and likely make prospective members fall in love with your coworking brand.
"We Have Super-fast Wifi"
If you do, that’s great! However, what would be much better than the vague statement above would be telling people what your internet speed actually is.
Let prospects know your download and upload speed on your website. It will be a breath of fresh air for any prospective members who keep on reading about “super-fast wifi” on other workspaces in the area.
Alternatively, if your wifi speed is nothing to shout about, then maybe you want to take a look at upgrading it so that you can! Of course, if internet speed isn’t important to your members because you’re more of an art space, then maybe losing the line altogether is a better approach.
But one thing definitely holds, if you advertise “super-fast wifi” and only have a 25Mbps connection for 30 people, those prospective members most likely won’t sign up. And if they do their expectations won’t be met, which isn’t a great start to what could be a long-term relationship.
"We Have Well-Known Partners"
Having a well-known partner, such as your local government, a startup accelerator, an investment firm, or a large brand is excellent positive signaling to potential members. And it may well provide vital institutional verification that can be the clincher for helping you secure larger organizational partners.
The only problem happens when it’s not really true. These claims tend to fall into the category of exaggerations, not outright falsehoods.
For example, some spaces claim that Google is a partner because they’ve signed up to an affiliate program that allows members to get free ad credits or some other perk. The problem with this claim is that it makes it sound like Google is actually involved in your space, which they most likely are not (unless they are, which is great!).
Another example is saying that your local government is a partner in the space because the two of you once did an event together. Unfortunately, that’s not really true. The partnership was for that event only, not in perpetuity.
These types of exaggerations not only put you in legal jeopardy but also tarnish your reputation when members ultimately find out the truth.
The better road is to do the difficult work of securing real partners. They don’t have to be big. It could be the bakery around the corner that caters member lunches or the ISP that gave you a substantial discount to get up and running. Better yet, real partners actually talk about you to other people, which further expands your marketing reach.
We covered coworking partnerships in our Habu Webinar series a while back. If you’re keen to develop this within your workspace, check out Mike LaRosa talk here. Our good friend, Christoph Fahle from Betahaus, does an excellent job in exploring how to create a partnership program. Here are the slides he uses when presenting the Betahaus approach.
"You’ll Be More Productive"
The court is still in session regarding the impact of coworking on productivity. From my experience, productivity in coworking spaces has a lot of variability. It can depend on the space, community, vibe, or an individual's tolerance to distractions. Some days I'm very productive in my coworking space. Other days I'm not.
But one thing is 100% certain. Visual and audible distractions are highly present in most coworking spaces, especially open-plan spaces. And all distractions affect productivity.
What’s more, these days we have a lot of experienced coworkers. The wrench icon and bullet text about increased productivity won’t impress these veterans of the industry. They've been doing this coworking thing for a while, and they know productivity isn't a guarantee.
The better approach would be to say, “We don’t know if you’ll be productive here. That’s up to you. But we do believe you’ll feel more accountable by working around our community, and accountability is always good for productivity.”
Experienced coworkers likely resonate with the accountability argument, because they’ve most likely experienced it. I know I have.
"You’ll Be More Creative"
The creativity claim is not dissimilar to the points in the section above about productivity. Distracting environments can also be terrible for creativity. Creatives tend to require quiet periods without visual distractions. Of course not all the time, but at least occasionally. Which means that if your space doesn't have hideaways or semi-private flexible space, your claim to increased creativity is unlikely to live up to your members’ expectations.
In this case, the more accurate approach would be to say, “be inspired by other creatives who call our space home.” Assuming you have a community of creatives, this is a major bonus. Connecting with other creative people is a source great of creativity!