If you’re a marketer, you will know the Marketing Funnel inside and out. It was developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 and offers a linear approach that attracts a wide range of prospects and converting them into a small number of buyers.
This model has one big flaw though: what goes out cannot come back. It doesn’t consider how those customers can help your business grow and all that momentum you built acquiring a customer is lost. You’re back to square one having to attract new customers.
Ever watched BattleBots? You may have noticed how formidable Spinners are owing to their flywheel-type weapons that generate immense energy. It’s based on a wheel or disc on an axis that is highly energy-efficient and stores energy based on how fast it spins, how much friction there is, how big the wheel is and how much it weighs. The faster the flywheel spins, the more force it generates. Mechanical Engineer James Watt figured this out in the 1770s to power his steam engine.
A Flywheel is a powerful metaphor for businesses, as unlike the funnel losing energy once the sale is made, flywheels are remarkable at storing and releasing energy and the ability to continue powering growth by engaging and delighting existing customers.
That’s why Flywheel Marketing is the new buzz.
With the significant shift in consumer marketing and the way buyers make decisions in the new digital era, the Flywheel approach to marketing harnesses the power of loyal customers as fuel for growth, and limits customers dropping out of the loop as they did with the Funnel. Flywheel Marketing puts customers at the centre.
Successful Flywheel Marketing strategies consider these three key factors and good marketer will have strategies for all three:
1. Building Momentum
2. Eliminating Friction
3. How big it is
The speed of a flywheel is increased by applying more force in the areas where it can have the biggest impact. Putting a flywheel in motion takes a huge effort and your first few marketing efforts will be hard, but the beauty is that the flywheel gains momentum as your customer base grows and keep improving.
The key is to invest in long term strategies rather than in short term vanity gimmicks. This includes designing customer-centric processes, producing evergreen content, quality backlinks, growing social media followers and educating your customers so they educate people in their sphere of influence and invite those people to be your clients. Momentum is gained as your customers keep putting energy back in through advocate marketing. So, give them the tools they need to be successful marketers, for you.
Granted, some customers will churn, but it’s important to eliminate as many points of friction as possible to reduce churn and maintain momentum. Simplify your processes, identify inefficiencies where momentum is lost and make improvements. Silos, handoffs, and specialisation all create friction and slows down the momentum of your business. How are the various departments or teams in your business organised? How much information is shared between them for example, when product managers know of limitations to a product are these shared with the sales team?
Focus on customer service. A lack of alignment between marketing, sales and operations create dissatisfied customers and churn which slows down your flywheel. By putting the onus on each team to attract, engage, and delight customers means teams are aligned and you’re able to offer a holistic, delightful experience to your customers.
Ensure none of your investments opposes each other for example, you may become super-efficient at converting leads to sales, but don’t have the capacity to service customers or enough product to meet the demand.
Delight customers at scale. Offer a free trial or product on entry, invest in resources that make customer touchpoints more efficient, activate online purchases and offer hassle-free returns, automate repeatable tasks and restructure when necessary. By delighting customers at scale and addressing issues that cause churn will increase the speed of your flywheel and optimise conversion.
Bigger and heavier wheels
As you successfully increase speed and decrease friction, you will create more delighted customers. More delighted customers mean a heavier wheel and one that produces more energy when spun.
Heavier wheels mean that you have the bigger buying power to offer your customers more value. A good example of this is Google, an immense number of people use Google as a search engine, which enables Google or Alphabet Inc to develop a mapping system that is better than the GPS systems of the past.
Ignoring how customers can help you grow is perilous. Customers honestly are the best marketers you have and, in many instances, they are even better marketers than you are! Placing customers at the centre of your marketing efforts and the centre of your business will drive growth.
You can become more customer-centric in your organisation by focusing on building meaningful relationships. Relationships are built through communication and educating customers at every stage to optimise the opportunity for repeat business and word of mouth referrals. Word of mouth has always been fundamental to great marketing however it has become even more important in the world we live in today; trust is at an all-time low. Prospects are doing far more independent research than they ever have done before. With word of mouth being so crucial, losing the momentum you generate in creating a new customer is a real drag on your growth.
As a marketing agency with a strong data-driven approach, we value the sales, marketing and conversion data the Funnel offers to support process optimisation and revenue growth; and we also see the value in a more customer-centric Flywheel approach through every step of the purchasing process. For us, the Funnel and the Flywheel can work together to align business forces in a way that measurably impacts customer experience and effect customer-driven growth and marketing.