Marketing Toolbox for Forming Cohousing Groups
This document assumes you have a start-up group of folks interested in cohousing and you’re ready to start attracting more members. It is NOT meant to guide you through creating your community, only the marketing.
In order to attract others to cohousing, you will need to know a lot about it, both the movement overall, and the details of the community you are creating. Click here for more on how to learn about cohousing. (/knowledge) As part of your marketing program, plan educational events that will help your members and prospective members learn more about cohousing.
You will need to choose a name from which will grow a logo. Most communities choose a working title that is clearly not expected to be their long-term community name. Make it descriptive of what is unique about your community (location, age, etc). This name leads to a domain name, used for your website, and likely also lead to your email address.
If you don’t have a name yet but want to start getting email create a free Gmail account that’s general like email@example.com.
This goes back to the question of your community’s name selection and then creating a logo.
Once you have a name and logo they will be used in assorted ways including:
Registering a domain name for your website ($15/year)
Creating emails associated with your domain name
Creating a free MailChimp account where you’ll collect interested names/emails and then send emails using a template using your logo
Creating a free Facebook page
Possible printed materials
Public facing Facebook page to help spread word and announce meetings
Meetup website to get folks together for cohousing conversations
Create a listing on the cohousing.org directory and consider classified advertising.
Join the FIC directory (Foundation for Intentional Community) https://www.ic.org/. Update directory listings as you have more information about your group.
There are many inexpensive sources for print materials, including:
https://www.printingforless.com/ (use code RP1NEWS97 for $40 off)
Business cards are inexpensive and may be helpful for everyone to have while networking
Postcards – can include additional information and fit easily on an info table.
Create a PDF brochure to email to folks and print small quantities as needed to put in coffee shops, etc. That keeps costs down and makes it easy to update frequently without waste.
Suggested places to put your postcards/business cards/flyers:
Websites can be a big can of worms. If you have someone who already knows how to create websites, go for it. There are annual fees for domain name ($15/year) and hosting ($100+/years) and without a skilled community member, can be expensive to get designed if you’re having to pay for it. They require regular maintenance. Of course there are cheaper ways to go but they also have a downsides including learning curves and costs as well as who owns your content when you want to move.
What should be included in a website?
About your community is the most important – location, stage you’re in, values, steps to get involved
About cohousing in general (link to resources)
Make it easy to navigate and friendly – photos and bios of those already committed make it relatable.
Easy way to contact you
Learning more about this subject:
This page offers an overview of website steps: https://www.blockbeta.com/websites.html
This page offers descriptions of various website building tools such as Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and WordPress: https://www.blockbeta.com/website-builder-tools.html
There are also some cohousing specific options out there including:
Plan regularly scheduled information events. Locate a venue in the geographic area you want to build in or nearby areas where potential members might live now. Free meeting spaces may be available through a library, church or other public building. Be careful to choose a space that is comfortable and easy to find. Remember this will be a first impression for many people.
Have sign-in sheet (make sure to get their emails!)
Use name tags and visuals.
Do introductions, adhere to agenda and end time.
Consider obtaining a few copies of books on cohousing to have on hand for events.
Promote via free community calendar listings in print and on blogs.
Partner with natural allies for co-promotion and hosting events.
Ideas for other events:
Visit existing cohousing communities in your area (see www.cohousing.org/directory)
For forming senior groups, consider putting on a Study Group 1: Aging Successfully course
Host a screening of a cohousing-related movie or TED Talk (such as Happy), and discussion afterwards
Create a MailChimp account (free for first 2000 names)
Collect interested people’s emails in this list and use it to promote informational events and your progress
Send something brief out on a consistent basis with updates. Every month or two is adequate.
For best results, we recommend professional printing. The file above is formatted “full bleed” for this type of printing. We recommend printing a large order to use over time and adding a 2 1/3 X 3 3/8 inch label that is printed with your community contact information and upcoming events. There is room for the label on the back of the flier.
Although not ideal, sometimes home printing is necessary. The file above is formatted for home printers. Printers vary. In some cases using two-sided printing will result the back being upside down. We recommend printing a test copy. If needed, print one side at a time and position paper for correct orientation.
CohoUS thanks Dick Margulis for graphic design and Richard Getler, Jes Gordon, Karen Gimnig, Adam Johnson, and McCamant Durrett Architects for the photography
CohoUS Staff, Sheila Hoffman