- The buying cycle consists of 3 distinct phases: awareness, evaluation, and purchase
- How you market to prospective members will depend on where they are in the buying cycle
- Those in the awareness phase will benefit more from social media and SEO, while those in the purchasing phase would do better with a free trial and a membership discount
When it comes to marketing, you get out of it what you put into it. This is true of time, effort, and of course, financial investment.
When done right, more money invested into marketing should yield better results. However, you may not be in a position where you can spend a lot on your marketing efforts, and that’s okay.
There are plenty of low-cost marketing tactics you can use to effectively grow your coworking space, whether you have a marketing background or not.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most effective free and low-cost marketing tactics for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Use these tactics to create an effective marketing plan and grow your business.
Understanding the buying cycle in coworking
Before we begin, it’s important to understand the buying cycle and how it relates to marketing your coworking space.
It is rare for people to move immediately from discovery to purchase when making buying decisions. Instead, people typically go through what’s known as a buying cycle.
A buying cycle is the process your members go through before joining your space. It is generally broken down into three stages:
- Awareness: the potential member first finds out about your coworking space – the first touchpoint
- Evaluation: they know about your space, as well as a few others, and are deciding whether it’s the right fit for them
- Purchase: they’ve done their research and are ready to make a decision, they just need an extra nudge to convert
Buyers move through each phase in order until they come to the buying decision.
How is the buying cycle related to marketing?
The buying cycle is imperative to the success of your sales team. However, it’s an important part of marketing as well.
Understanding where your prospective members are in their buying journey and supporting them at each step can help you deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.
For example, someone who has never heard of your space would benefit most from content educating them on who you are and how you can help them. Someone making a purchasing decision may do better with a 50% off coupon delivered to their email inbox.
When you first open your coworking space, your marketing efforts will most likely be focused on building awareness, as very few people know what your space is all about. After you develop enough leads, you’ll want to have a marketing strategy for those evaluating and purchasing your product.
Here are some low-cost marketing tactics you can use at each buying stage to accelerate your growth.
Low-cost coworking marketing tactics for the awareness stage
A buyer in the awareness stage does not know who you are yet. This is your first touchpoint with your prospective clients – the goal is to get your name out to as many people as possible without spending a lot of money.
1. Tap into new and existing networks
Your biggest challenge when launching your new coworking space is most likely to be a lack of awareness. People don’t know who you are or what you can offer them.
One of the easiest and most effective free marketing tactics for when you’re just starting out is networking.
Creating personal connections with potential members can be a great, low-cost way to build awareness. You can do this at:
- Events for entrepreneurial niches in your community
- Local meetups of people in specific industries
- Large-scale industry association gatherings
Having an intimate 1:1 connection with your members may not be scalable, but it’s an important and highly effective way to market in the beginning.
2. Target local startups
Local startups are the perfect target for new coworking spaces.
Coworking spaces can offer small companies access to resources and amenities at an affordable cost. In turn, startups benefit coworking operators by bringing a team with them. This means more revenue for less effort when compared to selling individual memberships.
Here’s how to get the attention of startups and small businesses:
- Attend entrepreneur meetups in your community and do some research on local startups where you’re located
- Compile a list of businesses to reach out to
- Email or call them with an exclusive offer, such as a private office at a discounted rate, in exchange for word-of-mouth referrals
Establishing a partnership with a particularly influential startup can translate to more sales down the road via word-of-mouth.
Pro tip: Another option for niching down your targeting is to target remote workers with your marketing efforts. Many remote workers are looking for a new place to work that goes beyond their home. Use this to your advantage by tailoring your marketing efforts and product offerings to meet their unique needs.
3. Use SEO to bring more traffic to your website
Search engine optimization is a powerful way to bring more traffic to your website, free of charge. When done correctly, SEO helps improve your search rankings in Google so that you appear closer to the top when someone types in a specific keyword.
This is incredibly important as the first two results in Google get over 50% of all clicks.
Focus on SEO to rank for specific keywords your prospects search, such as ‘coworking [city name]’ or ‘best coworking space in [city name]’. If you’re targeting a specific niche, like parents, then don’t forget to include those keywords as well.
Check out this free course from HubSpot if you’re new to SEO to get a basic understanding of how to begin.
Pro tip: Don’t forget about your Google Business Profile! Optimize your GBP by filling out the entirety of your profile, adding pictures and products, and getting reviews to drive traffic to your site.
4. Create a coworking referral program
Your existing members are often your best marketing asset. Studies have shown that 84% of people trust a recommendation more than any other marketing tactic. So why not encourage happy members to spread the word?
Setting up a referral program for your coworking space can help you get the word out about your space and grow at an accelerated rate. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, but recommendations from friends often convert far higher than any other marketing channel.
Tips for getting started with a referral program include:
- Make it beneficial for both parties
- Gamify it to encourage participation
- Promote your program constantly to keep it top of mind
- Gather feedback on how the program is working in your space
Check out our guide for how to create a highly effective coworking referral program in your space.
5. Create a social media presence
Creating organic content for social media can be a great way to get the word out about your space at a low cost. Don’t be fooled however – while social media may be free, it will certainly cost you time and energy in managing a profile.
Being successful on social media requires:
- A deep understanding of your customer
- High quality original content
It will take time to crack the code on how to be successful on social media. If you can figure it out however, it can pay off dividends long term.
Low-cost coworking marketing tactics for the evaluation stage
During the evaluation phase, buyers know who you are and your basic offerings. Now they are interested in understanding the nitty gritty of your space, how you’re different from other spaces, and what it would be like to be a member.
6. Give tours to prospective members
A well-executed tour is a non-negotiable for coworking operators.
This is your opportunity to really sell your space to someone who is interested in joining your community. Let them take a good look around, get a feel for your space, and see the great perks and amenities you offer.
If you can, try to bring along a couple of your space’s biggest advocates, or hold your tours on days where they’ll be in your space. Hearing directly from current members how much they love what you have to offer can help you seal the deal.
Pro Tip: Include a CTA on your website allowing people to request a tour themselves via the Optix Book a Tour web widget. This turns your website into a lead capturing machine by allowing prospects to book a tour and capture their information right on your website.
7. Hold an open house
Holding a monthly open house is a great way to show off your space and sell prospective members on the community you’ve created.
Here are a few tips for holding an effective open house:
- Invite current members so prospects can get a feel for the community
- Introduce prospects to members who have similar interests or are in a similar industry
- Hold your open house at a convenient time for most people, such as after work on a Thursday
- Consider incentivizing attendance by offering a discount for those who sign up via an open house event
While it can be fun to go all out for a party, you certainly don’t have to. Some refreshments, music, and good energy is all you need for a successful open house.
8. Solicit reviews from current members
People trust their peers more than anyone else when it comes to making a decision. Capitalize on this phenomenon by getting reviews from current members to post online.
Reviews are critical for prospects during the evaluation phase. How else can they get a true understanding of what you have to offer?
Some of the best places to collect reviews include:
- Yelp profile
- Google business profile
- Facebook business page
Do your best to post as many positive reviews online as you possibly can in order to add some social proof to your prospect’s buying decision.
Low-cost coworking marketing tactics for the purchasing stage
Now is when your buyer is ready to make a purchase. They have likely shortlisted their options to one or two top choices. Your goal during this stage is to do whatever you need to get them to choose you over your competitors.
9. Offer a free trial
You may have captured your potential member’s interest, but now you need to give them a final nudge.
By offering a free trial, you let them experience the day-to-day vibe of your space and how nice it is to work from. They can have the full experience of your space with zero commitment, helping to drive home the value members will receive and how it can benefit them long term.
Consider what you want to offer a free trial of. Is it one drop-in hot desk for a social freelancer? Or perhaps a private office or conference room minutes for a professional consultant?
Tailor your free trial offering to your customer profile for the biggest chance of maximizing value from it.
10. Offer a membership discount
Discounts and deals are one of the most effective tactics you can use at this stage of the buyer’s journey. Everyone loves a good deal, and they’re quite effective and getting people over the finish line when it comes to sales.
The discount you offer will depend on your client profile and the cost of your space. Here are some of the most common deals we see:
- A free month when signing up for an annual private office plan
- 50% off your first month
- 10 free hours with a 20 hour hot desk pass
- Additional conference room minutes on top of membership
While discounts and deals add to your customer acquisition cost, they don’t cost you anything immediately, making them a good idea for individuals on a budget.
The most important thing to remember with any marketing tactic you choose is to meet your potential members where they’re at.
There’s no point attending a networking event for new freelancers if your target audience is well-established entrepreneurs. Put in the effort to understand your ideal member and where they’re at in their buying cycle to increase the efficacy of your marketing efforts.
That way you can put together a coworking marketing plan specifically tailored to bring your ICP into your space.
Looking for more coworking marketing guides for coworking spaces? We’ve got you covered: