If you’ve read part one of the most comprehensive article ever on coworking membership plans, that is literally awesome! You now understand the structure of memberships and how to come up with absolutely amazing benefits for them. With that in place, it’s time to talk about the strategy you employ when communicating your membership plans to members.
Most likely, the first place your members will see your membership plans will be on your website. Your website already contains a lot of valuable content like pictures (with people please!), featured members, and your general copy, branding, and design. That content helps your prospective members decide if your coworking space fits their values, vibe, needs, and style. And once they’ve determined they are interested in your space, your plans section is the most crucial piece of content they’ll interact with.
And sadly, many newbie coworking spaces’ make a number of common errors on their plan page. The most obvious pitfalls to avoid are:
It’s not the stealing… oops, I mean borrowing. It’s not the borrowing of copy that’s bad. Practically all the coworking websites on the internet are plagiarized one from another. Who knows where the phrase “more than a desk” (which inspired the name of the Habu resource library!) actually originated from? What about its cousin, “more than a coworking space”? Nobody knows. We may never find the answers to such perplexing coworking questions.
Everybody borrows copy from other coworking websites, so don’t worry about the coworking police turning up at your door.
The issue is that if your plans sound just like their plans, then nothing is differentiating you from one another. Think back to the example with Irina in part one. Her plan benefits wouldn’t even make sense at a startup-focused coworking space, nor would they resonate with many startup founders and team members. And vice versa, startup or freelancer membership benefits would feel dull and misplaced on Irina’s website.
Feel free to use others as an inspiration, but remember to use the process of practical generosity, as explained previously, to really hone in on what your space should offer. It will inform your copy and design for the better.
Just like you don’t want to sound like every other shared workspace in the city, it also doesn’t help if you’re 100% original but sleep-inducingly dull.
You’ve got to add some personality. Even if your space is a more professional brand focused on the fintech sector, for example, surely you can throw in some accounting jokes here and there.
Try this one on for size: where do homeless accountants live? In a tax shelter!
Okay, maybe there’s no hope for fintech spaces. Or at least me writing the copy for a fintech website. But at least I tried.
Anyway, sounding interesting doesn’t have to mean going full hipster, using emojis, or being “cute.” It just means letting a bit of who you are bleed through onto the page.
Remember, boring copy attracts boring members. So unless you’re into that, spice up your text a little.
Some spaces can’t resist adding a *, a **, or even a † on their plans pages. I also used one in my example with Irina. But sometimes it’s too much. If you have to write a legal document to spell out your plan benefits or your pricing, you’ve done something wrong. Plus you’re probably worrying too much.
Keep plans, pricing, and benefits simple.
Members should be able to understand your plan options at a glance, then read on for additional detail if they have questions. If you make your prospective members do math or feel like they’re reading a terms sheet, you’ll lose them.
Just as getting legal confuses and deters members, so does providing too much information.
If you provide too much information for your prospect to sift through, they’ll tire quickly. “Perhaps I’ll come back to this later,” your prospects may think to themselves. But once they leave, they’re likely gone forever, to another coworking website with the right amount of content and information.
Too much information often comes in a couple of forms:
Having too many plans to choose from causes decision fatigue. You know how it feels when you’re confronted by 30 types of washing powder at the store? There are just too many choices! Studies show you’re significantly more likely to not purchase at all when presented with more than a few options. The same goes for your membership plans.
Additionally, having too many details on your membership plans comes off poorly in two ways. First, it seems like you’re trying too hard, which makes you look desperate, which makes prospects wary. They may well think, “Why is this space trying so hard? Something must be wrong.” Second, it causes information overload, a similar ailment to decision fatigue which also tires your prospects and makes them less likely to commit to signing up right now.
On the other side of the coin, too little information will leave your prospective members with questions. Questions they will need to contact you about. Unless you have chat support on your website, your potential member will need to email you. That means more work for you and your prospect. And let’s be honest, we could all do with fewer emails in our life.
The ideal situation is where your plan ‘cards’ (i.e. the price and benefits containers on your website) give a summary of benefits, and you provide additional detail in other sections lower on the page. That allows most prospects to get an overview of what’s included in your membership plans at the top of the page, but people who need more detail can scroll down to learn more.
Striking a balance with just the right amount of information is somewhat of an art. At Habu, we’re always analyzing our website and the information we provide to determine if we’re thoroughly conveying our message, benefits, and features without overwhelming our potential customers. It takes time to get it right, and you'll likely always be changing and making the information you provide better.
How some coworking spaces end up with lousy website design is a mystery to me. Today we have access to modern and inexpensive design tools, website builders, and beautiful themes. Most website themes on platforms like Wordpress and Squarespace come preloaded with tons of well-designed elements, including pricing tables for your membership plans. And most premium themes for Wordpress cost less than USD 60. For a more advanced experience, you can try out Webflow, which is what our site is built with.
We live in an era where poor design doesn’t need to happen. It’s the first indication to a potential member that your space might not be as good as you claim it is. Because, after all, if you can’t put the time into making your website beautiful, perhaps it means you maintain your space in the same way. It takes a particular person not to judge a book by its cover.
My point here is to invest in sound design. Learn and do it yourself or hire somebody to do it for you. But whatever you do, don’t sacrifice design.
Finally, once a potential member has decided your space is the one for them, perhaps after a tour or only from browsing your website, and identified a plan that suits their needs, the next step is to sign up and pay.
However, the vast majority of coworking spaces are not technologically integrated. As in, their websites and the rest of their management systems do not talk to each other. Some spaces fall back on simple online forms where a user must send in their name and email, as well as a message, and wait for the team to reply. Some spaces only allow members to sign up in person. What’s worse, on a few coworking websites the process for signing up is a total mystery.
These inefficient processes create a lot of unnecessary communication, which means wasted time on the part of you and your prospects.
Of course, there are cases to be made for requiring members to apply in person or to come for a tour before signing up.
However, more and more spaces have less time to vet every applicant.
Plus, members have less time to waste touring coworking spaces. In today’s business climate, travelling remote workers and digital nomads are challenging coworking spaces to be more responsive and quicker to react to their needs. Members, while they want a great community and to feel a personal relationship with your staff much of the time, are increasingly demanding convenience and transparency.
Therefore, your plan cards should link directly to a simple and easy-to-use signup process, where members can add extras, create an account for your space, and pay on the spot.
Of course, I recommend Habu for this as it’s something we’ve built with in-depth consideration. We've designed it with delightful user experience in mind. But whatever you use for managing your space, there must at least be some way for members to have the option to choose convenience via self-signup. If they want to pop in for a tour or sign up in person, that’s cool, but give them a choice.
You don’t want to force people into one way of signing up. Make it easy for your prospects to become members, and you’ll see a significant increase in signups.
There’s another solid business case for this: day pass sales.
A while back I wrote an article about how so many coworking spaces have such a stressful time managing day passes in major cities. That article included a story about how my colleague, Jak, and I went for a day in London and found it very difficult even to find spaces that offered day passes. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m in Paris, and the situation is the same. Many spaces don’t offer day passes because their systems aren’t integrated and managing such a small transaction by hand is a real pain. Back then I wrote:
“If we assume the average day pass in London is around £30, and many are up to £40, and we expect that with a simple day pass booking process you could attract four individuals a day, that’s an additional £120 per working day in revenue. That adds up to about £2,400 per month and £28,000 per annum. That’s potentially enough to hire another staff member to make your space even better, or perhaps to buy some new furniture.”
And let’s be honest, I was conservative on the math there (actually I did the math wrong), only assuming four weeks in a month. The real math, not accounting for holidays, would be something like £30 x 4 sales x 5 days x 52 weeks. That comes out to £31,200 per year in extra revenue. Now, your sales may vary, but in a major city like London, selling four day passes per day should be a breeze for a well-established space, depending on workspace size.
One thing is for sure. If there’s no easy way for prospects to buy day passes, you won’t generate any sales at all.
The same logic applies to your membership plans. As mentioned before regarding today’s business culture, freelancers and entrepreneurs are increasingly traveling for work or pleasure. That makes convenience a considerable factor in their coworking decision-making process.
Additionally, it's precisely the users who have bought day passes through your website that are the most likely to want to sign up online. They know the space, they trust the system, and they want to be able to pay simply and quickly.
Make signing up easy, or you’re not only missing out on extra cash but some impressive and interesting members.
Let's recap the content presented in this two-part series on membership plans. I think the best way is to give you a manifesto of sorts that you can copy and paste into a note on your computer or print and pin up in your team's office. Here it is.
Perfect plans reduce admin time and make your life easier.
Perfect plans are consistent, and only modified with subscription terms.
Perfect plans not only make your members feel satisfied but also create a sense of belonging. They convey your message and describe what you stand for.
Perfect plans are built from the ground up. Sure, perfect plans take inspiration from others, but they aren’t exact copies. They are homegrown.
Perfect plans are presented to prospects after they’ve aligned with your brand. They form a critical part of the purchasing decision and should, therefore, be treated as a branding asset.
Perfect plans exist in the Goldilocks Zone of information. Not too much, not too little. Just right.
Perfect plans are easy to buy.
And lastly, perfect plans are not perfect. They should change along with the ever-shifting needs and wants of you and your members. In other words, perfect plans are only perfect for a limited amount of time.
I’m unsure if there’s ever been so much written on plan creation in the history of coworking. Perhaps that’s why it needed to be written. I hope that with this information and these processes you can create fantastic membership plans for your community, or recreate your existing plans into something much better.
I’d love to hear about your setup and update this article with your stories and examples. Was this process helpful? Did this article get your creative gears turning? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your plan structure and genesis stories. It will be useful for others who are on the same journey.
Marketing Director, founder at Coworking Insights, coworking maven, digital nomad, lover of wine & tacos.