We were among the speakers of the 5th eOffice Coworking London Conference. Our focus was the future of work. And the increasing role of freelancers for flexible offices and coworking spaces.
It was a great opportunity to hear professional perspectives and best practices. The conference was structured in a very useful way. It started with an overview of the flexible offices business in the wider scenario of the London’s real estate market. And then it unfolded in a more specific break down.
- Real Estate and Flexible Office
- The Boom of Coworking Spaces
- Specialization of the Sector
- Design and Environment
- Future of Work
Why Marketing is essential for coworking spaces: the WeWork example.
We offer marketing transformation and technological services. So we listened very carefully to all the speakers to better understand the uniqueness of the operators in the coworking sector.
An effective marketing strategy is an essential component of any business development activity. And this is even truer if you look at a market segment where there is a giant player. We shouldn’t be shy in saying that WeWork is doing a great job in positioning itself as The Coworking Space. Their positioning is so strong that Wired UK recently published a 6-pages long article. “How WeWork became the most hyped startup in the world”. What WeWork is doing is almost as good as what Google did in positioning itself as synonymous with “search engine”.
This “good job” doesn’t happen overnight. And it is not a miracle. We researched some of the most recent WeWork’s marketing strategies.
- According to some, WeWork spends at least 30,000$ per month in digital advertising. Specifically in search advertising. This allows them to intercept potential new members when they are making research. Intercepting intent is an essential part of their strategy.
- In January 2018 WeWork launched We Work Creative Studio. The Studio is a team of 10 professionals working on brand and marketing strategies. One example is a video advertising campaign for the benefit of choosing a managed office.
- In March 2018 WeWork acquired the digital marketing startup Conductor. WeWork used Conductor before. They leveraged the power of big data to intercept new members and increase its customer acquisition efforts.
Now, I know what you are saying: “I am not WeWork. I don’t have their budget”. This we know. And you shouldn’t worry too much about it. What it is important is to understand which are the underpinning principles of their marketing strategy. Understanding these key principles you can come up with ideas and marketing strategies.
What we can grasp from the 3 facts above are that WeWork is basing its marketing strategy on at least three key elements:
- brand awareness and positioning of the brands as a solution to a very specific problem;
- the use of data analysis and business intelligence to be very specific in its messaging and offers;
- the power of a team of qualified professionals to deliver on its creative needs.
The 4 Leverages that Every Coworking Space Should Work on for its Marketing Strategy
We listened to the stories and best practices shared during the Coworking London Conference. And we identified 4 hot topics that can become the cornerstones of a successful marketing strategy for a coworking space.
So, on to the list.
Pauline Rousel and Dimitar Inchev are the co-founders of Coworkies. As part of their customer development activities, they did an amazing thing.
They travelled in 31 nations and visited more than 250 coworking spaces. “When you see a listicle about the top 10 coworking space in the world, you need to think as it as a pure clickbait technique” explained Pauline Rousel. “There are so many coworking across the world, and each one of them is so different, that it is impossible to know them all, and rank them”.
The research done by Pauline and Dimitar will soon become a published book. An account that crosses anthropology and architecture. Not only each coworking is different from the other, but it is possible to identify some urban and sociological trends. “In a city like Berlin coworking spaces were created to facilitate connections. Whilst, in a city like London the reasons are rooted in the needs of finding affordable spaces”.
In the same panel, there was Lu Li, founder of the Blooming Founders community and of Blooms, the female-friendly coworking space in London. Lu Li explained how she is tackling a specific need in the market. Women entrepreneurs have different necessities. A female-friendly coworking it is not just about the design of the spaces. Sure, a full-figured mirror in the toilets can be useful But there is also need for different time frames for accessing the spaces. Or the need for career development and entrepreneurial advice sessions.
Each coworking comes to the world with different premises. And with a different target audience. And this difference needs to stand out. It needs to become an essential part of the brand. Working on the valorization of each own identity should be the basis of every single action of a marketing strategy.
“Coworking is not only a real estate business. We should treat it as we do with hospitality”, said Grant Powell, CEO of Central Working. Grant referred to his own experience in the luxury hospitality sector. He invited the audience to think about how benchmarks are necessary to increase the overall standards.
The connection between coworking spaces and hospitality is at the core of the presentation of Enrico Sanna, CEO of Fora. Enrico explained to the audience how the entire staff of Fora is carefully onboard. In particular, the new employees are offered a week-long training session at the École hôtelière de Lausanne.
The creation of memories and the sense of connection with a place are components of the travel and hospitality experiences.
Working on these elements is crucial for any marketing strategy. The goal should be to trigger emotions in the prospective members of a coworking.
Data show the return of investment of hospitality-like experiences. We can refer to a study presented by Expedia at its Global Partners Conference in 2017. The study shows how emotions are essentials for tourists and travellers. Their data “showed that travellers are receptive to ads with appealing imagery and informative content”.
I admit Elliott Gold, founder of Work.Life was my favourite speaker. His presentation focused on the role of happiness in the professional life. Elliott overturned the table with a reference to the Dunbar Number. This concept comes from the work of the anthropologist Robin Dunbar. His theory is based on the number 150. 150 is the maximum number of people that a single human being can feel related to. According to Dunbar, after 150 is exceeded, it is more difficult to create meaningful relationships.
Hence the need of creating an experience in the coworking that feels personal, human, connected.
This concept can become a strategy of marketing strategies. For example client engagement and even customer acquisition. How is the CRM organized? How is the client segmentation structured? How the tone of voice adapts d to different buyer personas?
Communicate what you offer
If you give water for free, show it. If your office is meant for comfort as well as well-being, tell it.
This was my thoughts during Ann-Marie Aguilar presentation. She is the Director of Operations at International WELL Building Institute. WELL created a framework to analyse if buildings guarantee an advancement of health and well-being.
The WELL Index takes into account 8 indicators: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, mind, innovation.
We believe that each one of them could become a pillar of a good content strategy within a wider marketing strategy for a coworking space.
Thanks for reading until the end. I am fully aware that not all the coworking spaces have the economic power of a giant such as WeWork. Maybe you don’t have in-house all the resources needed to implement these ideas. Or it is early to create a multi-channel marketing strategy. That’s why you should consider the remote workforce of freelancers. Individually or combined in a team, they can be a solution for you today to carry on your marketing strategy. In your very own way.
Virginia Fiume is the co-founder and COO of Bekudo. If you want to contact us for discussing your marketing, business strategy and technology needs, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.