As a coworking operator, events should be a core part of a successful marketing arsenal. They boost awareness and word-of-mouth buzz, bring in new members, and keep current members engaged. So, how do you organize a great coworking event that will leave your guests wanting more?
Choose the right topic & format
To host a great event, make sure that the topic is of interest to your audience and that the structure fits both the topic and the audience. Specifically, there are several event formats that work for a coworking space, including panel discussions, breakfasts or happy hours with a learning or sharing component, meetups, conferences and workshops.
The topics will depend on your core audience. If you have a large group of members or guests who are new to your city, consider hosting an event about apartments for rent in San Francisco, for example. Are you aiming to attract design freelancers? Host a meetup with an expert speaker who can teach new techniques. Do you want to appeal to more startups? Organize a panel on business development strategies.
In all scenarios, include a networking component so you can engage with attendees after the event. Plus, earn points by offering snacks and low-cost drinks to encourage guests to mingle, make new connections and enjoy themselves.
Establish partnerships & sponsorships
You’d be surprised by how many event perks and essentials can be achieved with a few effective strategic partnerships. The most important benefit from such alliances is finding speakers who will help you out for free or trade. For instance, local startups, business groups, and LinkedIn are great places to search for experts who are also building their brands. It’s a win-win situation: You provide the audience and the platform to promote themselves, and they educate and entertain your guests.
To inexpensively offer drinks and refreshments, consider partnering with food and drink vendors as in-kind catering sponsors.
Once you build an event audience and start reeling in more attendees each time, you will have some leverage to ask local brands for sponsorships. With enhanced funds, consider investing in a sound system, catering, merchandising or fun additions that will make the event experience even better.
Define a multi-channel promotion plan
While events count as valuable marketing, hard work will be wasted if potential members don’t comprise the bulk of the attendees.
Promote the event through social media channels, and most importantly, create a Facebook event and share it with local business and startup groups’ Facebook pages.
We suggest creating the event on a dedicated software platform to track signups and engagement, even if there’s no cost to attend. Offer free tickets, but make them mandatory so you can track how many potential members are interested. If you choose the right event platform, you may even get free marketing along with analytics. Eventbrite, for example, has a built-in discovery platform that can help you bring in a significant number of guests—just by posting the event on the service. These platforms will also allow you to send reminders and post-event emails.
Finally, partner with various media outlets in exchange for promotion of their channels. This strategy may have to wait until you’ve already built a solid following for your activities. Before accepting your request, their marketing team willl want to make sure their brand is recognized in front of a sizeable audience in exchange for any promotions. Many community websites and news outlets offer free digital and print event listings, so be sure to take advantage.
Create an engaging experience
The event itself is where your brand and coworking space can shine, so make sure to plan all of the details to ensure attendees have a seamless and delightful experience from start to finish.
On site, offer an easy way to record attendance. Some event platforms have a built-in check box feature for quick and efficient guest sign in. Attendees should always be greeted by a friendly member of your team who can answer any questions and help them settle in. Also, invite a charismatic moderator to introduce your guests and provide easy transition between activities.
When it comes to style and atmosphere, your event should reflect the spirit and culture of the coworking space. Play background music, but make sure it’s not too energetic or distractingly loud.
To promote your space, offer tours during the event or distribute printed materials with essential information like pricing and schedules. Also, provide branded merchandise—such as notepads and pens—or get creative depending on the event theme.
With a little planning, these tips will give your event a solid chance at success. And finally, here’s a simple way to gauge your planning success. Picture yourself attending the event from beginning to end, and think of how you’d feel about it along the way. If you would be satisfied, your guests will probably be happy, too.