- When members love what you have to offer, they will naturally become brand advocates for your coworking or flexible workspace.
- Creating brand advocates is important because individuals today value worth of mouth recommendations more than anything else.
- It’s not just members who can become your advocates, your employees and team members are also great advocacy prospects.
Written by Jaren Nichols
Every company strives for brand advocacy, but you can’t just go out and buy it. Members of your coworking space can become advocates by organically advertising for you–just because they love what you offer. And in an age where millennials trust peer feedback more than any other form of direct marketing, creating brand advocates is more important than ever.
Actively reaching out to members and providing the best service will help you turn members into advocates. Here are a few ways that you can build advocates out of coworkers and simultaneously improve your service offerings.
How to create—not wait for—word of mouth
Word of mouth recommendations have always been highly valued in marketing. If you can actively create opportunities for word of mouth sharing–rather than just waiting for them to happen–you will be able to turn members into advocates.
Ask for Referrals
Implementing a referral program is a great way to strengthen client loyalty and bring in new customers. Flexible space operators are not exempt from this method. Asking for referrals for your coworking business will provide instant credibility for prospective clients and strengthen the advocacy of existing clients.
To simplify referral collection, make it easy for customers to refer their friends, this can be done by including links on your website and social media profiles. Reach out to your best clients–those who have stuck around for a long time or are ingrained in your community–and encourage them to share their support of your business.
By asking someone for a referral, you are asking them to prove their loyalty to you by standing by your brand. Even if they are just doing it for an incentive, they are putting their name out there, tacking their signature right next to yours. These clients become advocates for your brand and bring in customers who are more loyal in return.
To bring in referrals quickly, consider offering incentives. This rewards clients for their continued loyalty to you and for their willingness to become advocates for your brand.
Things like drawings, discounts and gifts can be a great way to encourage word of mouth sharing. A good referral campaign will be two-sided, rewarding both the user and the referred customer. One thing we’ve done to incentivize current customers is provide them and their referral one free month of bookkeeping.
You don’t have to offer a free month of coworking, but consider offering extra meeting room hours, a free day pass for a friend or a free meal from your cafe. Clients who provide referrals are going out on a limb for you, so it’s good to reward them and their friends.
Online Reviews as Word of Mouth
Word of mouth marketing strategies have evolved in the digital world–they now depend deeply on positive online reviews. Again, you don’t have to sit around and wait for your online star rating to rise and fall–you can create advocates out of your current members!
Just like you are making it easy for existing clients to refer others, make it easy for them to leave online reviews. Try adding a button to your email signature or on your website. You could even create an in-store review station as part of your coworking space and encourage customers to input a star rating on the tablet as they leave for the day.
Make sure you have a current review profile on major sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook. And as the reviews come in, respond to them. Say “Thank You” when customers offer positive feedback and make amends when someone had a bad experience.
85% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, so don’t neglect digital feedback in your word of mouth marketing strategy.
Encourage and Facilitate Social Sharing
Social media has facilitated word of mouth marketing and is a great venue for turning coworking members into space advocates. Followers who see your business featured in their organic feed will be more likely to pursue your venue, trusting the word of a peer over a direct marketing campaign.
Do Fun Things
A great way to start getting some of those social shares is to sponsor events worth talking about. Provide opportunities for coworkers to have some fun. Just as big companies have Christmas parties and go out to lunch together, you can create moments of fun for your coworkers.
As a note: please don’t make these socializing opportunities compulsory–just give members the option to participate. Give them some heads up, so they can fit fun into their schedules and encourage social shares with an event hashtag or by sharing downloadable photos on your feed.
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Establishing an emotional connection to a product has always been an important step in brand advocacy, so give your coworkers something to be happy about. Flexible workspaces are often heralded as a step forward in fighting the loneliness epidemic in the U.S., so do your part to offer something more than just a comfy seat and internet access.
Create Shareable Content
Another great way to leverage social media in your marketing strategy is to create unique, shareable content. Things like beautiful photographs, unique infographics and catchy quotes are easily shared by followers and space members.
If you can make social engagement a natural part of the user journey, you are more likely to see members sharing your business with others. Apps and websites that track time spent or create quick images for sharing make this process easy. Social sharing should be fully integrated in who you are and what you do.
Reward Employee Advocacy
Employees and team members can be some of your best prospects for brand advocates. 52% of consumers say that they view employees as very credible sources of information about a product or service.
Encourage your employees to brag about their jobs and showcase what’s great about working there. We all have at least one friend who regularly posts on social media about their company’s “waffle friday” or shows off their beautiful workspace. You can incentivize employees to share their work, the same way you incentivize referrals.
In addition, if you can allow employees to be more involved in your brand creatively, they will be more likely to speak highly of your workplace. If employees are invested in what they do and love where they work, they will also become great brand advocates.
Be the Best
Currently, 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. These freelancers and contractors are often looking for new spaces to inspire their workflow. If you can offer the best service available, your members will become advocates without any push from you.
Diversify Your Offerings
Any brand that is not continually striving for improvement is bound to fall behind. Specifically, as a flexible workspace operator you should always keep in mind your changing audience. As Gen Z enters the world of coworking, they are looking for fun, social, diverse office environments that support their well-being.
Entrepreneurs and small teams are often looking for a variety of layout options. Private offices are in high demand with conference room availability as well as lots of open space. True quiet areas are important to many coworkers, as well as communal spaces for networking and socializing. 24/7 access to flexible spaces is highly sought after as well.
Consider how you can diversify and improve your offerings to inspire client loyalty.
Stand by your Brand
Whatever space you have created, stand by your brand. If you advertise as a place for creatives, cater to creatives. If you formed a professional location for digital entrepreneurs and business teams, honor your professionalism.
Whatever it is you provide, make sure you are creating true value for your members and trust your worth. As you stand by your brand, you will create loyalty in turn. Whatever it is that your members love, keep doing that and share it online. Whether it’s your location, your price or your furniture, lean into what’s working.
Give members a reason to become advocates. Remind them of all of your services–first, make sure they know about everything you have to offer. Share your personality and give them something special to talk about. If you can offer them something they won’t find anywhere else, they will keep coming back and bring their friends.
Act on Feedback
As you collect referrals, see social shares and learn what people love about your brand, don’t forget to change. Improve your services based on member feedback. Actively share your progress and show that you’re still growing.
Most of all, keep customer satisfaction at the forefront. Create a space where members can come as individuals, but leave as coworkers. As you ask for referrals, be sure you give them something as well like recommending members to each other and widening their network as they help to widen yours.
About Jaren Nichols
Jaren Nichols is Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks, free accounting software for small businesses. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.