When the flywheel first emerged in 2018, we thought it was going to drastically change the way people approached building marketing strategies.
The flywheel highlighted a major flaw with the funnel: the prioritization of marketing and sales above serving your customer base. With an increased emphasis on buyer and customer-centric business practices, it was easy for marketers to attempt to abandon the funnel visualization, which literally illustrates customers being dropped out of the bottom with no further attention given.
But as we were working to replace our references to the funnel with the flywheel, we realized that one didn’t replace the other.
Since its emergence, there have been multiple iterations of the flywheel. One was a direct translation of the funnel, showing “marketing, sales and service” revolving around customers. Another iteration illustrated the inbound methodology “attract, engage and delight.” There have even been versions with those two ideas layered together or represented as a flywheel within a flywheel.
In this way, the flywheel model is still evolving and improving over time.
However, while the flywheel is more than just a buzzword — it is an ideology that should guide your company’s growth — it’s also not the end-all, be-all for marketing strategies. While the flywheel is here to stay, the funnel isn’t going away.
The two models work in conjunction with each other. While the funnel is critical for measuring how you're attracting new business to your company; the flywheel is the overarching methodology that shows how those individuals experience your company.
To understand how to incorporate the flywheel into your company, let’s break it down into the areas of marketing, sales and service.
The attract portion of your marketing efforts consists of using tactics like social media, content, SEO and ads to draw people to your site that can benefit from your solution.
The key to the inbound marketing attract stage is meeting your prospects where they are at. You need to understand who your buyer personas are, what kind of information they’re looking for and where they go to find it.
Once you attract visitors to your website with marketing content, you need to engage with them so they’ll convert into a lead and continue interacting with your company. To do so, use tactics like pop-up forms, email marketing, chatbots and marketing automation.
Contextually-relevant communications will help you stand out with your prospects at this stage. Instead of blasting prospects with every piece of content your team creates, nurture them with content and information related to what they’ve indicated interests them.
Finally, use smart content, email marketing, conversational marketing, video and long-form content to delight your leads with as many relevant educational materials as possible.
Encourage long-lasting brand loyalty with content that provides so much value your leads want to share it with others.
The attract stage of the sales flywheel overlaps with the marketing flywheel. As a lead is being engaged and delighted by marketing content, sales will start to reach out in an effort to attract them into the sales process. After this lead demonstrates sufficient interest in your company's offering and provides information indicating they'd benefit from it, the process begins.
Alternatively, leads can be attracted into the sales flywheel through prospecting. In that case, a personal connection that a prospect has made with a sales rep on social media, in person or through other communications is what draws them into the sales process.
Once a prospect has begun a conversation with sales, the sales team will continue to engage with them through meetings, calls and emails.
As you continue to guide prospects towards buying your offering, follow the mantra “always be helping.” Let your prospects dictate both the channels and timeline of your communications and address their needs over selling whenever possible.
In order to delight customers in the sales process, make it as easy as possible for prospects to buy from you. Empower them with the info they need and create a great buying experience.
Enablement materials like one-sheets and videos can help with this, as they make it easy for your champion to share your company’s value proposition with other stakeholders involved in the buying process.
Going above and beyond to create a delightful sales experience for your prospects can lead them to refer you new business — attracting new prospects into your sales flywheel.
You attract customers to your service with your marketing and sales process. When doing so, try to make becoming your customer as frictionless as possible and ensure you’re demonstrating your product or service’s value.
An effective way to do that is through assessments, product demos, freemium offerings or bringing members of your service delivery team onto sales calls. Giving your prospects a taste of your product or service allows them to gain first-hand experience of how it will benefit them, making a stronger case for why they should become your customers.
You engage with customers within the service flywheel by delivering superb customer service.
Ensure you establish clear expectations for communications and how customers can receive value from your product or service. Then, work to exceed those expectations and support your customers in using your offering to meet their goals.
In addition to having systems for communication and support, you should also have self-service resources like knowledge bases to help your customers maximize the value they gain from your offering.
When it comes to the delight stage of the service flywheel, expectation setting is the major factor for success. If you don’t set realistic expectations from the start, you won’t be able to exceed them and go above and beyond for your customers.
When you help your customers succeed, they’re more likely to want to return the favor for you. Then you can get case studies, reviews and referrals that help your company attract more customers.
However, while you should work to delight all your customers, keep in mind that not everyone will become an evangelist, and that’s OK. Don’t devote so many resources toward delighting an unpleasable client that you can’t give adequate attention to your other customers.
Using the flywheel ideology will help you develop brand advocates for your company who can propel your growth. The goal of the flywheel is not to increase revenue, as the funnel’s purpose is, but rather to increase customer loyalty.
In order to see real growth at your company you need to put your customers at the center of everything you do. To get started with putting your customers first, you can read our guide.
This post was originally published June 5, 2018.