The marketing strategies chosen for coworking spaces are very important because they can both directly and sub-consciously set the tone for the community.
Creative ideas should be tempered with thoughtful foresight about the kind of people that will be drawn to them. Before you reach for that “brilliant” gimmick, think about the quality of experience that it supports.
Take punch cards, for instance.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When it comes to earning me a free latte, or discounted hair cut, a punch card is quite handy. These are a tiny little incentive that will make me choose Biz A over Biz B the next time I’m thirsty or shaggy. But does it create feelings of loyalty or ownership toward either one? Not really. Does it make me feel like I’m a more special customer, or that I have a personal investment in the Biz’s success? Nah. EDIT: I no longer participate in punch cards at coffee shops et al. because I believe in supporting the businesses I love most BY PAYING FULL PRICE.
I was surprised to learn that, in some coworking spaces punch cards have been formed into a membership plan. People buy a card for a flat price and then receive a punch every time they visit the space.
Sounds like a decent way to get on-the-fence looky-lous to buy in, but to what?
Punch cards in coworking encourage almost the opposite behavior as the cafe or haircut scenario above, mostly because there’s no “get one free” incentive at the end. Instead of hurrying back for more, punch card members hoard their punches, feeling pressure to make every punch count instead of just coming in as they need (or want). This intermittent attendance circumvents a real investment in the community and reduces the membership to latte status and remember, we’re trying to save people from the coffee shop experience. Not emulate it.
Remember, coworking’s best marketing tool is a vibrant community–one where people can’t stop raving about the value it brings to their personal and professional lives. This isn’t achieved by a punch card or any other gimmick. It’s achieved by being social, introducing prospective members to current members, and creating an environment in which creativity and collaboration flourish.