Coworking Market Analysis: What to Monitor & How to Do It Right
This is the third article in our coworking brand building series. Didn't have a chance to read the previous episodes? Follow these links to catch up on the material.
- Episode 1: What Is Coworking Space Brand & Why Is It Important to Build It
- Episode 2: Brand Positioning: How to Find the Best Positioning for Your Coworking Space
From two lessons above you already know the brand definition and understand the importance of brand building activities for growing your coworking business. You also have a notion of good and bad brand positioning.
To create great positioning for your coworking brand, you need to analyze plenty of material about your target market. In this episode of coworking brand building series, we are going to teach you basic things that will help to study coworking market trends, competing brands, and of course the consumer.
Sounds obscure as the only person having enough authority to fire a coworking space operator is you. So, imagine that you don't work for your coworking brand and today is the first time you are getting acquainted with team and facilities. Your credentials are unlimited, you need to do a huge scope of work by yourself, there is no possibility to delegate it.
This is the time to question everything. The argument "we are doing like this all the time" is not valid anymore.
Get updated on your business:
- Go sit at the reception
- Receive bookings
- Try to sell coworking membership
- Do some marketing posts
- Organize event
You must be ready to change everything. Though, maybe you will leave everything as is. The main thing is to enter the coworking hub with this feeling and resolution.
Free your mind from previous experience and current business activities. Global business strategies need time when you are free from down-to-earth routines. Fix your schedule so that you could work on your business strategies say one week in a month. This is requisite because you can create something new only when your mind is clear.
When you have the required attitude, your first step is a market estimation. You will need nearly 10 000 hours for that. You are not planning to enter the market for a season, you are going to spend there the next five-six years of your life.
The main problem of the coworking space operators is that they don’t understand their market and consumers' needs. In truth, your market is not limited to the local coworking spaces.
- Figure out who are your top ten competitors.
- What coworking brands made an impact on market development.
- Know niche influencers behind those brands or outside of them.
- If there is a leading player in the industry, collect information about them, follow them on socials, read their publications and books if any.
You must know all the biggest players in the market.
- There are plenty of possibilities to do it online:
- Subscribe to niche blogs: andcards blog, Coworking Resources, Deskmag, Allwork
- Read eBooks
- Join Facebook groups
You can go the extra mile and visit one of their branches, contact the owner, interview them.
- Global coworking business events are one more source of information and an efficient way to stay updated.
If you can't visit all of them, choose three not-to-miss coworking conferences and go there.
It may take a year to study all the available information but you have this time as you can combine learning and work.
If you are lucky to know your competitors, workspaces that can really steal your customers, you must keep an eye on them all the time. Even if those managers make you mad, this is not the reason not to read their Facebook feed on the weekend.
The market is never stable, it moves somewhere all the time. By monitoring your competitors you feel its pulse and can predict possible changes. You need to be open-minded. Don't limit yourself by a small segment.
Investigate big global operators, know what they do and how they live. Pay attention to how they advertise their businesses, how they earn money. Spot the most successful retailers. You never know what can inspire the next brilliant idea.
Don't think short. I mean don't neglect the activities that are not likely to bring you immediate profit. Sometimes events (like going to a museum instead of going to a coworking) that are not closely related to your business growth may change the flow of your thoughts and cause the avalanche of creative ideas.
We, at andcards never miss global coworking events. If can't visit all significant coworking events yourself, send your representative there. You need a pair of eyeballs to watch and a pair of ears to listen to what's going on there.
Some strategies even don't cost you a cent. Follow your members (prospectives) on Facebook and Instagram to know more about their lives, their likes, and dislikes. This helps to know your target audience better. In other words, if your prospective likes sauna, you must accompany them in the sauna (via Instagram of course) to study their hobbies. This way you start to feel your consumer.
In this section, we are going to talk about the most productive, dynamic and important component of the market — the consumer. It's a big mistake to use the term "target audience" when you mean consumers. Marketing professionals describe some abstract category with the help of sophisticated terms.
For instance, here is a persona of average coworking space resident:
Men 25-45 years old
Lives in a city
Drives a car
Does shopping in a supermarket
Takes purchase decisions himself
Has a girlfriend, etc.
Most of the coworkings try their bests to attract the above persona. But the portrait is too abstract. You need Dixie Normous renting a small apartment on the third floor, located in a dormitory. His girlfriend's name is Wendy Wacko. They don't have kids yet. Dixie is a freelance backend developer.
You need to know how he lives, what his apartment looks like, what does it smell like. You need to know the color of his walls, furniture design (is it something retro, maybe a heritage from his grandma or something modern and affordable from IKEA.)
All these details may seem no great shakes but the best marketing advice is to accompany your consumer all the way associated with the industry. You need to search for coworking spaces online, choose the one that you like the most, come to see the amenities, buy a membership, download coworking app on your phone, book a room, have coffee with cookies in the kitchen, apply for members' benefits, network at lunch and learn, and so on.
Procter & Gamble team was struggling to create a perfect washing detergent. They watched how their consumer washed the dishes: poured some liquid on a sponge and then some drops were lost on the way to a plate. The cleanser was too watery. It looks like a pain point.
P&G created Fairy, a concentrated cleanser that is much thicker. It does not drip, you can wash more plates with it and it's more expensive.
If they didn't go to the consumer's home, they would never create a revolutionary product.
Back in the days, Bernhard and Max (Maximilian Schuetz & Bernhard Mehl, future Kisi founders) were working at a fast growing company that quickly scaled from a few people to 50 employees.
At one point, groups of people were waiting outside of the office and everyone was super frustrated about the access issue. It was such a time and a mood killer. They quickly found out there wasn’t really a solution for this — so they decided they were going to make one together with Carl Pfeiffer who also had a negative experience with physical keys. When he returned back to Europe from a stay abroad, he had to be in two locations at the same time to have his apartment keys returned.
As a rule, entrepreneurs want to stay in their cabinets, they prefer marketers to do the job. I can advise you the opposite, spend as much time as you can with the consumer. Nothing compares to direct communication with the consumer when you are aiming to generate new ideas.
Your research will be even more informative if you communicate with members across all your branches in different cities. The trips may not be really fun but there you may find the key from millions of dollars.
If you want to find out what differentiates you from the competitors, you must talk to employees responsible for the coworking space lifecycle. They are dealing with suppliers, partners, and members. So maybe they have an idea of what is going to happen next in your industry, what technology is likely to come into play. Talking directly to your managers will ensure that fresh ideas will not get lost among a heap of files you are dealing with daily.
Every manager, every employee who sees and communicates with members and prospects may be a holder of valuable information. Encourage them to share it, create a culture of brainstorming and sharing innovative ideas on how to make consumer’s life easier. Motivate community managers to find ways to make residents' lives easier, for example, you can adopt modern technology to book space conveniently via app.
It's time to systemize the knowledge you've got from three coworking brand building articles. I have prepared a list of questions to answer. The homework won't take you long but help to clearly see your next brand building step.
- Do your management structure, culture, and team match your new brand positioning?
- Does your coworking hub (which is your product) support new positioning?
- Do you have consistent design elements? What powerful symbols do you have? How will they differ from competitors?
- What unique experience will your workspace give to members. What is a "must" and what will be "wow"?
- What will you talk about as a brand? What content are you going to produce?
- Is your idea powerful enough to unite people around? How are you going to build community?
- How will you talk about yourself? How will you communicate your ideas?
- What level of technologies should support new positioning? How will you develop the technology?
You have just finished the third coworking brand building tutorial. Now you know how to approach market analysis, have proper brand positioning and a bunch of ideas what you need to improve so that every element supported it.
Don't forget to share a new portion of coworking brand building tips with your friends on socials.
Go to the next episode of the coworking brand building series: What Makes Your Coworking Space Different? How to Choose Positioning Word.