At this year’s Inbound conference it was announced that the flywheel is the way to go when it comes to marketing. Typically marketers and businesses operated on a funnel – contacts visit your site (because you are a good inbound marketer), fill out a form, and the process continues from there. The marketing funnel was a good strategy for a while, but what is this new marketing flywheel and where does it fit in with today’s marketing approach?
The aim for this post is to start the conversation and get you thinking. We’ll try to dig deep into both approaches, though to keep things readable we won’t provide an exhaustive overview of each. That said, hopefully we’ll be able to point you in the right direction so that you can bring some ideas to the table for your own marketing team.
Let’s kick things off with the funnel.
The Marketing Funnel
Behold the marketing funnel in all its glory:
Chances are, you are familiar with the above picture. We like this model, it’s intuitive, it has evidence to back it up, and it’s formulaic. Really, what’s not to love?
The marketing funnel makes sense. Prospects have a problem that they are aware of so they take to the web. Those prospects become visitors when they come to your site upon discovering you in their search. Whether they saw an ad on Facebook, were searching for a keyword you rank for, or were directed there from a friend, they’ve arrived.
Maybe they like your site and offering, so they start coming back and compare you across other options to consider their choices. After going back and forth a bit, they decide you’re the one (how romantic) and have decided to convert and become a customer.
From there a few customers become evangelists and promote your product to their friends. Speaking from experience I do this every now and then but it is rare. Lately I’ve become an evangelist for a local gym chain, Gymit. This is a solid model to work off of and it certainly makes sense for a smaller team. There is a small thing to note though: at each stage of the funnel you lose more and more people.
The entire model works off the assumption that, say, only 5% of your prospects will actually become evangelists. It’s a bit bleak, no?
Furthermore it can encourage bad marketing practices. It encourages businesses to treat their marketing efforts like a numbers game, casting as wide a net as possible in hopes of capturing a small percentage as opposed to focusing on their bread and butter target market.
The Marketing Flywheel
The marketing funnel is pretty well established, however the marketing flywheel is a very new concept that many businesses are adopting (whether they realize it or not):
Where the funnel focuses on spreading a wide net to filter prospects down towards converting to customers, the flywheel focuses on building momentum across your teams/efforts.
Instead of marketing taking the lead, filtering down to sales, then dealing with customers it’s a continuous process. Your marketing drives engagement, which then drives customer interaction, which then builds word of mouth momentum. You may notice that the actual components are pretty much exactly the same – and you’re right. The key difference with the marketing flywheel is the approach and methodology behind it.
When you take the flywheel approach it’s not casting the widest net that matters, it’s servicing your prospects and customers.
You’re not focused on moving people along steps in the funnel so much as you are focused on making people successful from doing business with you.
It’s an approach we at Blog Trackr are shifting towards: we love our users and want them to be successful, in fact we want everyone (user or not) to be successful in starting their business. The flywheel enables us to live our mission more deeply rather than approaching our marketing efforts as appealing to the largest audience.
Which is right for your business?
As with all things, it’s your call. Neither model is perfect and both models are pretty darn similar when it comes to their actual components (read, the same). The key difference is how you approach your marketing strategy.
Are you casting the widest net possible, or are you focused on nurturing your prospects and current customers. The components of your team are the same either way, but what approach are you taking?