I bet you think marketing is hard, I do.
For over a decade I’ve been trying to figure out marketing, both mine and other peoples.
Everyone seems to be doing better than me, is ahead of the curve, on the ball and whatever else.
They’re more immediate on Instagram, terrific on twitter, fancy on Facebook and more linked up on LinkedIn than me.
Oh, and they have an email list with a million more people than me.
I was dying, I looked at what worked and what did not, I also looked at what I LOVED and what made me want to put my face in a food blender.
I simplified everything, I took a machete to my operation and ended up with the good bits.
Then I started to teach this to people in the European Coworking industry, and that was a whole new way of engaging people.
Everything you read here I’ve done myself, done for other people and been taught it directly by most of the people mentioned in this post.
1. Build a sales funnel
The very first thing you need to do is build a sales funnel.
You’d know this as collecting emails to build an email list.
You can make a landing page with an email list in most email marketing platforms like MailPoet, Mailchimp, Convert Kit.
If the only thing you do is make an email list, you will be doing great.
Companies that had an email list before the COVID-19 hit and had a direct connection and permission with their customers, members and prospects had a better chance of surviving.
Because they have an email list colossal email list, they have built up over the years.
I’ve kept close contact with the London Coworking Assembly and my own community because I can email then and invite them to things.
I’ve been able to listen, offer help and ask questions – because I have contact.
To further back up my case, all those Uber cool books about being lean and bootstrapping recommend making a landing page with an email list to test an idea.
They don’t recommend blowing 10k on a website to impress your mates of by running Facebook adverts.
A study done by Mackenzie worked out that for every $1 spent on email marketing, you get $40 back over time.
2. For your email list, you need a lead magnet
WTF is this? – Chill! This can be a simple checklist.
For a coworking space, this could be – “10 things to look for when choosing a coworking space”, “10 best places to get a coffee and sandwich near our coworking space”.
This absolutely should not be a 100-page ebook on business success or being a freelancer.
While an email address is an emotional equivalent of handing over, £20 people will only use something simple. – this kinda confused me. What do you mean here?
Don’t become yet another ebook sitting on someone’s computer desktop.
3. Email people.
Email people stuff that is hyper-relevant to them and useful.
This is where the whole story thing starts.
Don’t email last-minute event salvage invites.
Spend a few minutes asking people what is important to them, what they need help with and email that.
A great book to help you in business and finding out what people need is the “mum test“ by Rob Fitzpatrick.
People will tell you what they think you want to hear, which is different from what they’d pay money for or read.
You know when it sounds like someone is reading your thoughts?
I bet it is because they’ve read The Mum Test!
Email is solid gold over Instagram hearts, Facebook likes and RT’s. In the past, I’ve been part of a lot of projects where we’ve spent time and money to build up followers and likes only to have the platform change the rules or people go somewhere else.
4. Pick ONE social media platform and commit deeply.
Being everywhere is easy when you are Coke or EasyJet, but most people reading this are in the micro or small business arena.
You are looking for connections and few solid leads, not 1000’s of sales a day.
First, just post and see what works, but you won’t know what works unless you post.
Then make a plan of where you want to lead people, this will be what you talk about in real life.
Standing in the kitchen at your coworking space, what do you talk about?
If you are warm and friendly in the kitchen with a high connection, don’t go online and suddenly become a wanky 10X your super Entrepreneur life guru.
It’s not you, and the last thing we need online is another 10x business success guru.
For a coworking space, I’d urge you to double down on Linkedin and not be an asshole.
Linkedin is where business people with the budget are.
10’000 like on your Facebook page is worth very little compared to 1000 people following your important daily updates on Linkedin.
If you think you might be spamming – you are.
The next platform I’d recommend is Instagram, it is fun, fast and visual.
Look at what all the big coworking spaces are doing and don’t do that, be yourself and REMEMBER you are looking to create honest connections with people.
5. Put something on your website at least once a week.
Every time you update your website, search engines notice and rank you higher, then you get more traffic and then you which then get more leads, and then you understand you more sales.
I know it’s all about the community, but you won’t have any fucking community unless people are giving you money.
Choose the methods that work best for you. And when I say works best for you, I mean that you LOVE, thrive, get energy from and can see yourself doing forever.
I love writing, and I love podcasting, but podcasting comes out a little ahead.
I’ve recorded and produced well over six hundred episodes across projects and clients in the last decade.
I’ve done the same amount of blogs, but the podcasts were way more natural and energizing for me.
Do a video, podcast or blog and then post it once a week.
My mate Marcus Sheridan has tested posting frequency and lead generation over the last ten years.
His research confirms that three articles a week are the ideal amount for building authority and website traffic in your space.
This is a big commitment but works if you go all in. I’ve met UK based clients of Marcus’s who have added 100’000’s of pounds of annual revenue with a sustained and focused posting strategy.
Also posting regularly on your website is the best and most simple SEO work you can do.
6. Stop talking about community
Yes, people want to be part of something. I have this vast human need to be part of something.
When you talk all day about community people get confused about the rules, the meaning, are they cool enough?
Then when they get there they want to see where it is, immediately, you are selling the invisible, it is like selling ‘spirituality’.
Say ‘we have a great community spirit here’ but don’t rant about the community you will end up going around in circles and wasting time.
The same goes for programs. Let membership of the community own them and run them. That’s less work for you and more commitment from the people there.
Stu Maclaren co-founded WishList, a membership plugin for WordPress we use for the London Coworking Assembly.
Stu and now teaches people to run communities, he always points out people can only cope with an hour’s worth of content a week.
An hour’s worth of content could be a community lunch once a week, which has always been one of the most simple and successful things I’ve seen in ten years of coworking.
7. Don’t buy social media adverts
We’ve all done it, paid to boost a post after a suggestion from Facebook or got all horny about Instagram adverts.
Maybe it is just my feed, but when I see coworking spaces advertising on Instagram, they are always the venture-backed ones with slick videos. Even I am tempted to rent a desk.
But they are selling a feeling and allure.
When COVID hit the spaces I know with a solid sense of connection and community kept going.
And then the ones that rented desks found it harder to keep people.
Social media advertising fails because people don’t understand how to execute the process.
The thing you need in place is a sales funnel.
So when people move from social media to your landing page or website, they are taken to a call to action, which is usually an email sign up form.
That email sign can simply be to download your lead magnet or join your list.
When I do social media or buy google adverts, I hire my mate who knows what they are doing, because I don’t.
Sort your website and sales funnel out first, then do adverts.
8. Have a pure one line phase for your business
At the top of your website have something so fucking simple your child would understand it.
“We make bags’ or ‘Get Your Work Done Here’ – mine is the title of this blog. Hope to market your coworking space the right way.
I believe in what you are reading on this page. I’ve tried and tested it, argued it, got results from it for me and others.
I’ve worked with all the people I mention in this post. And if you woke me up with a bucket of cold water in the middle of the night and asked me any of this, I’d be able to start talking in a second.
In the book Marketing Made Simple, JJ and Donald outline the one-liner exercise, it is – problem, solution and fixes.
I’m going to be every ruder, being all airing, weak, flowery, over-designed and ambiguous will confuse people.
Things of brands like Ronseal – “it does exactly what it says on the tin.”
I don’t know if they even still run that, but I always say it.
That is what you are aiming for.
I’ve looked at hundreds and hundreds of coworking space websites, and they all have some combination of community, collaboration and something else.
Every time I run a workshop or webinar, I ask ‘what are the words people use most on their coworking space website?’
Community, collaboration and entrepreneurship come up.
These are concepts, like clutter is a concept, terror is a concept – so the ‘war on terror’ was a shit idea.
It has to be unique to you and make it as plain and straightforward as you think, what would your space say on the tin?
JJ researched 1000’s of people and companies to see how the StoryBrand framework I love so much worked.
It worked in every company, and the only deciding success factor was execution.
I have been following the 12 week years book since 2016.
Every week since then I’ve lived my life in 12-week segments with an accountability partner. Every Monday at 10 am no matter where we are in the world, Karen and I have a call.
We talk about what we’ve done and what we have failed to do and read each other the next week.
Eventually, we got better and better at execution in the ECA. We have a weekly call at 12:30 UK time and do the same.
We track our progress and say where we went wrong.
What I’ve learnt, the hard way is that execution gets results. One blog every week gets you traffic, one email newsletter every week gets you readers, and one podcast every week gets you sales.
10. You have to do some marketing and stick to it.
The podcaster Mitch Joel says marketing is everything, and I don’t think business owners want to be ‘marketers’ – I don’t want to be an accountant or lawyer, but it comes up.
In 2019 I worked with a coach on my business. She highlighted that while I taught and consulted on marketing, I did not actually do any marketing.
I did a podcast here, and Instagram post here and article there but I did very little of what I taught people.
All my business came by word of mouth or referral, which, of course, is excellent.
But how much money was I leaving on the table? A lot.
I know coworking spaces that have been open for nearly a decade, and they fight every day for customers and do well.
But if you went to their website, there are about ten blogs, when there could have been 600 posts, videos or podcasts talking about events, people, the local area and cats on treadmills.
The email list could be in the 1000’s.
They’d be doing less work to get people in their space, now more than ever it is going to be harder.
Don’t get someone on their gap year to do your marketing, in the same way, you would not get an intern to do your accounts, draft your lease or fix the electric’s in your building.
Marketing is as severe as a heart attack for the success of your business. As I’m writing this, the whole world is online because of COVID. And if you are not online, you are pissing in the wind.
11. Bonus one
If you have a coworking space software, learn how to use it.
In most software for coworking spaces, there is a membership community area, and you could make more of this.