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Growth / April 26, 2019

Why You Should Change From A Marketing Funnel to a Flywheel

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The marketing funnel is over a hundred years old. It’s a pillar of most business operations, but it’s showing its age.

Modern buyers don’t follow the funnel. They encounter your brand in all sorts of ways with unpredictable timing, whether online or offline, owned or organic, outbound or inbound. In the rare cases where they do follow the funnel, they’re forced into a process so inefficient and flawed that it’s a miracle they stick around.

Introducing the Flywheel

Despite its problems, the old funnel is still very much an institution. So we were a bit skeptical when Hubspot decided to toss the funnel and replace it with the Marketing Flywheel. But after some thought (and careful observation), we realized it made a lot of sense.

For those not familiar, a flywheel is a mechanical device that stores rotational energy. They’ve been around for thousands of years, and are used in everything from the humble potter’s wheel to the most powerful combustion engines.

The flywheel’s job is to spin, and to keep spinning as efficiently as possible.

Compare that to a funnel, and its linear progression—something goes in at the top and comes out at the bottom. That simply isn’t how things work in the modern marketing world.

The Hubspot Flywheel is all about building momentum to keep prospects involved and enthusiastic. It encourages engagement even after the customer purchases. They remain in the Flywheel, which means you continue to interact with the customer in ways they value. Your customer relationship will grow over time as you keep giving them more of the proper kind of attention.

How does the Flywheel work?

The Flywheel model revolves (heh, I made a pun) around three main stages: Attract, Engage, and Delight. Each of those is roughly analogous to a component of your business, but there is plenty of room for cross-over between teams:

  • Attract = Marketing
  • Engage = Sales
  • Delight = Customer Success

When you first start a business you will build a customer base using the Attract and Engage stages. But the more customers you win over, the more you should invest in the Delight stage. That’s where your flywheel’s momentum will come from.

The more delighted customers are, the more likely they will promote you to their peers. This greatly reduces friction when these peers enter the Attract and Engage stages as referrals. The reduced friction means referrals have an easier time turning into customers themselves, who then add their own weight to the Delight stage.

Rinse and repeat.

You can also run marketing or sales activities in each stage, e.g. content marketing campaigns and lead nurturing programs. Activities that focus on customer need (and not business need) reduce friction and increase momentum.

Friction is the biggest obstacle to the Flywheel’s success. Any negative brand experience—be it a poorly targeted email or a defective product—increases friction and arrests momentum. Too much friction, and the flywheel grinds to a halt and customers fall from the wheel. Maintain stellar customer experience, and you maintain the momentum.

How to move from the Funnel to the Flywheel

The biggest difference—and challenge—in adopting the flywheel is changing your business process from a linear system to a circular one. Customers flow from marketing to sales to customer support, without any provision for moving them back into an earlier stage.

Conversion isn’t closure. How can the various teams in the company continue to delight the customer even after the point of purchase? Here are a few examples:

  • Marketing can provide content that tells the customer how to maximize the product they bought
  • Sales can provide deals and promotions that complement or enhance the customer’s use of the product
  • Customer Service can proactively interact with the customer to ensure they’re taken care of

You might not even need to craft an entirely new process from scratch (at least, not at first). Simply eliminating points of friction in your current process is often enough to increase customer delight.

Common points of friction include:

  • Aggressive or tone-deaf sales reps
  • Irrelevant marketing content
  • Slow customer service response times

Fix these issues and watch your flywheel spin faster and faster.

In conclusion

Hubspot’s Flywheel isn’t a marketing-specific solution, but rather a holistic alternative to regular business operations. It has a much wider scope and, therefore, requires a higher investment from your company to get right.

But it will pay off in the long run. A properly operating flywheel increases customer loyalty with every turn of the wheel, and accelerates the growth of your customer base as they bring in their peers. The challenge then isn’t getting more customers, but streamlining operations to keep customers happy.

A good problem to have, don’t you think?

Additional reading, picked just for you

Why You Should Change From A Marketing Funnel to a Flywheel

December 24, 2018

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