Getting Members With Events – The Meetup Tactic
Events and programs are the #1 way most coworking spaces attract new members. Old news.
But great programming is challenging to put together, and amazingly time consuming to perfect. It takes several months to a year for an event series to really hit its stride (sometimes multiple years). You need somebody highly skilled at event strategy, planning and execution to run your events program. In the beginning, many coworking spaces just don’t have the funds for a full-time events manager. So what should you do?
What follows is the most basic tactic for acquiring event content with minimal effort on your part as a space operator. I call it The Meetup Tactic.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or live somewhere where Meetup just isn’t a thing, Meetup is an online platform where people post suggested gatherings around specific activities, topics, or interests. There are meetups for just about everything (food, startups, psychedelic drugs, and puppies to name a few).
Here’s how the Meetup Tactic works.
- Sign up for Meetup. If you don’t already have an account, go to meetup.com to sign up. It’s free; you do not need to be a paid Meetup Organizer for this tactic.
- Search. Find Meetups within commuting distance of your location. You can search within Meetup’s provided categories to narrow down your search.
- Identify. Look for specific meetup groups you feel would be appealing to host in your space. The groups should have regular meetups (at least once per month) and have decent attendance. Decent attendence is relative to the size of your space and density in your region. For example, in San Francisco it wasn’t worth it to me to host a group for free if likely attendance was going to be less than 50 people (be sure to account for drop off; something like 50% of people who register for a free event do not show up).
- Contact. Send the organizers a message by clicking the rather intuitive link that says “contact” in the organizers section of the group’s page.
- Offer. Tell them you’ll host their events for free. Describe your space and location. Mention any amenities you have and are willing to provide (wifi, coffee, food, A/V equipment, parking, capacity, etc.)
- Make a deal. You should get to do a pitch at the beginning of the event. Ideally you’ll also get a copy of their entire email list. If they say no, the first fallback should be the email list of only the event registrants. The last fallback should be a raffle of some sort (a day pass bundle is always good) where people use their business cards to enter. You get to keep the business cards. If you can’t get the organizer to agree to any of these, unless the group has a very high profile,tell them to “take a hike.” You should always get something if you provide the space for free. If possible, try to get all three because they become three different marketing segments, the last (the raffle participants) being highly likely to purchase as they have self-selected as potential customers.
- Marketing. Follow up with the event attendees via email the next day. Invite them for a free trial day. This works especially well if you did the raffle because it will feel like a good consolation prize for the raffle participants.
If Meetup isn’t very popular where you live, there are likely gatherings happening in your community that are just like meetups, but aren’t on the platform itself. You’ll have to do more in-person sleuthing to find them than you would on a centralized platform like Meetup, but they are out there. Investigate event fliers at coffee shops and bars. Ask around and I’m sure you’ll find some groups that meet regularly who could benefit from using your space.