Cowork Memphis

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Hey guys,

As you may have noticed, most of the time there’s only one Community Manager on site these days. That’s because we’ve begun managing another coworking space in Germantown in partnership with EPIcenter Memphis! The EPIcenter Germantown space is located in the Carrefour shopping center at Kirby Woods, right above the Swanky’s in Germantown!

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This space is the result of a partnership between the City of Germantown, Memphis BioWorks Foundation and EPIcenter Memphis to provide a cost-effective space for East Memphis entrepreneurs to grow their business from, as well as a space for freelancers to thrive.

The amenities in Germantown include: a small conference room for meetings, secure access, WiFi, coffee, free parking, a kitchenette area, whiteboards, printers, and plenty of desk space. There are currently two cubicles in the space, but those will be removed soon to accommodate even more workspaces. Hooray!

And great news for all of you Cowork Memphis members: you get three day passes each month to work from EPIcenter Germantown included in your membership from here on out. Need to meet a client in Germantown? No sweat, you’ve now got a new meeting place!

EPIcenter and Cowork Memphis will be working together to plan events in the space, so if you have any suggestions as to what kind of events you’d like to see, let us know in the comments.

The address for EPIcenter Germantown is 6645 Poplar, Suite 200.

If you are interested in using a day pass in Germantown, please speak to Emily or Katie so that we can get you set up with a door code for that space.IMG_0637Conference room, with whiteboard (not pictured).

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Coworking space with community table.

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Expert Series event with speaker Ben Fant of Farmhouse Marketing.

Happy Coworking!

I moved back home to Michigan after going to college in Boston. I somewhat accidentally fell into a job managing a coworking community in Detroit. I was familiar with coworking but didn’t intimately understand why I could instantly find dozens of articles praising the power of the collaborative environment. I enjoyed what I was doing – it was exciting to interact with entrepreneurs and change-makers in Detroit on a daily basis. It was especially exciting to be challenged by them, directly and indirectly, to make their work space a place they could grow, learn and improve their skills. However, when I accepted the job, I did not expect to feel part of the community, I did not expect to make friends with the coworking members, and I certainly did not expect that I would learn myriad bits of wisdom from them. Much to my surprise and delight, all three of my expectations were confounded.

Working as a community manager undoubtedly integrates you into the community. You attend the events you plan, you come along for the happy hours you schedule, you relish in glory when the coffee blend you select is extra delicious. Most importantly, you are frustrated when the WiFi stutters, and you yell at the printer with the members when it breaks. Ultimately, you end up relying on the work space as much as anyone else – it is also the place you do everything you need to do.

Photo courtesy of Cowork Memphis member Clifton O'Quinn.

Photo courtesy of Cowork Memphis member Clifton O’Quinn.

However, the most rewarding aspect of coworking is the people I’ve gotten to meet. In Detroit, there were a group of 3 guys working on launching a 3D printing software. They (tried) to teach me about 3D printing, but mostly taught me how important it is to always ask for what you want. There was also a member who was so upset by the earthquake in Nepal, he dropped everything he was doing to lend a hand. He literally flew to Nepal and started re-building homes with the locals. He reminded me of the power in empathy. There was a woman running a financial firm had also written a book about Detroit. She taught me to never assume to fully understand someone – people so often surprise you. There was an eyewear salesman who enthusiastically greeted me whenever he came in, and let me try on his latest sunglass collections. He made me smile, and he made me want to pass along the joy he spread. Now, in Memphis – I get to expand this network of amazing, weird, and interesting people even more. I’ve met a woman from Minnesota who writes, with whom I can laugh at the Southern “snow storms.” I’ve met a woman who is a ferocious advocate for criminal justice reform, who is as funny as she is hardworking. I’ve met a man who decided after working 20 years, he didn’t love his career and jumped ship to start a creative services business. I have short and long conversations with the members, and enjoy getting to know them. I am learning from them – about Memphis, about what is important to them, about the various lanes of the professional world they work in.

 
All of these short exchanges, these jokes at the coffee pot, sharing personal frustrations and professional successes add up. They add up to the most strange and often straight up crazy workplace I’ve ever experienced. But most importantly, they give me the coolest and most inspiring cluster of work friends a young professional could ask for.

What began as an idea is now a full-fledged business. You’ve been working tirelessly to make sure everything is in order before you start writing press releases and calling journalists. You know your target market, you’ve researched your competitors, you might even have a storefront ready to open. You also know your business’ digital presence is crucial in 2016. For many business owners, freelancers and creative brands – this moment is when action becomes difficult. Which social media profiles are most important?  What language should be used on a website? When, if ever, is it time to work with a digital marketing agency?

These questions can quickly become overwhelming and stifling. In a workshop he led at Cowork Memphis, Ben Fant, founder of Farmhouse Marketing, dished out some tips to make a digital marketing launch a success.

1. Create a URL strategy for your business

Before you purchase URL or URLs, make sure your business name is searchable and discoverable. If it’s not both, consider reworking or renaming your business. It should go without saying – but if your business can’t easily be found on the Internet, it’s going to be difficult to grow.

If your specific business name is not available as a URL, that’s okay –  come up with a word or a few words that are closely related to your business, easy to remember, and available to stand as your URL instead. For example, if you’re starting a grizzly bear grooming company (just go with it for a second) and “MemphisGrizzlies.com” redirects to a basketball team, you could use “GrizzlySitter.com” instead.  (FYI, GrizzlySitter.com IS currently available).

Additionally, don’t let your friend or uncle or roommate purchase your URL or URLs for you – full ownership of them is critical if you want to grow your digital presence on your terms.

2. Have a social media presence

Yes, it seems obvious – but it’s important! Social media is a great way to connect with your target audience and show off your business’ brand personality.

In the words of Ben Fant, “Even if you’re not personally on Facebook, there are plenty of people who are.”

However, with the number of social media platforms at a staggering high, it can be difficult to decide which platforms are most important to spend time and energy on in regards to your business. As a general rule, your business should have a presence on at least four – Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Assure that your website is attached to all your social media profiles. That way, if people land on your created social content, they’ll end up as traffic to your website.

Whichever social media outlets you choose to utilize – stay active!

3. Build a profile on your industry’s listing site

Great news! There’s a listing site for essentially every industry, and they likely have a more established name than you do. Take advantage of sites like Yelp, The Knot, Angie’s List, and others to promote your business to the audiences already searching there.

Listing sites will come up before your website for a long time. Do some searching and find the listing site applicable to your industry, and create a profile to let people know you’re in business.

4. Collect email addresses with a splash page

Splash pages on websites are simply a landing place to entice users to look further, and a helpful way to collect contact info for mailing lists. Create one for your business or brand’s website. If it’s working correctly, it will not only encourage people to learn more about what you do or sell, but allow you to communicate with a wider range of people in your email campaigns.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few examples of effective splash pages.

5. Get the most out of your website

If your building is your physical storefront, your website is your digital storefront – and it’s equally essential.

First, make sure the navigation on your website is concise. Engaging with your site should be simple for users who’ve landed there.

Search engines work to ensure there’s good information on the web. For that reason, if you want your pages to appear in searches, don’t include sales language in the live text of your site. This language can sometimes be flagged, thus reducing traffic to your website. Suggested best practices include: have a minimum of 500 words on your site, with a maximum of 2,000. Create and publish content that is relative to your business – write blog entries, record videos, and post searchable items that will live on the Internet forever.

And lastly, utilize Google Analytics. This allows you to easily monitor what’s working or not, and adjust accordingly. After all, your website is not just a one-off purchase – it should grow and change as you do.

The November 4th digital marketing workshop that inspired this blog post.

Ben Fant digital marketing workshop and Q&A at Cowork Memphis on November 4th, 2015.

If you have all these items in place and still desire some extra assistance, consider using a digital marketing agency. It’s okay to ask for help, and who better to ask than an industry expert? Marketing agencies can be useful for taking your SEO to the next level, or giving you more specific suggestions you may not have thought to implement. They’ll thank you for having these 5 tasks accomplished before coming to them, and you’ll save some money by hiring an agency only after you’ve covered the basics of your digital launch.

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Cowork Memphis extends its thanks to Ben Fant for leading the workshop that inspired this blog post.

Less clamor than your coffee shop, but more collaborative than your library, coworking spaces are becoming more attractive to freelancers, start-ups, and even big businesses. Chrissy Gomez recently helped create an infographic about coworking spaces and tips for best utilizing them.