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What the Flywheel Trend Means for Building Your Business


What the Flywheel Trend Means for Building Your Business

As far as business analogies go, the “flywheel effect” is one marketers should take to heart. In mechanics, a flywheel is a heavy wheel attached to a rotating shaft that generates and transfers power to other parts of a machine. While the flywheel needs a strong impetus to start spinning, once it gets going at high speed, it continues to build momentum and will subsequently continue to turn on its own. 

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As a business concept, the flywheel effect, first introduced in 2001 by Jim Collins in his best-selling book Good to Great, expresses the notion that a single initiative does not propel a company to greatness; rather, true success comes from the accumulation of small wins over time. In other words, small results, perhaps hundreds or thousands, align in the same direction to create momentum and support a winning strategy. 

Flywheel vs. Funnel

In today’s competitive business climate, flywheel marketing, as it relates to customer retention, satisfaction, and building brand loyalty cannot be overstated. Marketing experts often contrast the flywheel trend to the more traditional “funnel” concept. In its simplest terms, flywheel focuses on input while funnel looks at output, that is, how many customers you can output. 

The problem with the funnel model? According to Hubspot’s spin, “Funnels produce customers but don’t consider how those customers can help you grow. That’s why the flywheel is so important. …The flywheel model is a more comprehensive, unified way of representing the forces affecting your company’s growth,” and accounts for the fact that customer referrals and word-of-mouth are the biggest influencers on purchases in today’s market.  

That said, move over funnel…flywheel is the new kid in town. Here, we’ll look at how incorporating a flywheel approach can help your business achieve “customer delight,” the ultimate phase of today’s flywheel marketing strategies to encourage long-lasting brand loyalty. 

How Flywheel Marketing Keeps Your Business Spinning

As Hubspot shares, flywheel marketing has a customer-centric philosophy, and implementation will touch upon three phases: attract, engage, delight. Further, “Companies that align their success with their customers, not only scale, but create delight, loyalty and love from the people who matter most. When companies grow better, they meet even the highest of customer expectations, and the result is a better business, better relationships, and a better path to growth.” 

The key here is the notion that the flywheel is completely intertwined with customer experience, which in turn will grow your business and support your brand. The flywheel uses momentum created from satisfied, engaged customers to bring in referrals and repeat business. It is, in effect, the “speed” and the minimizing of “friction” of your company’s flywheel that allows the flywheel to move freely, creating those all-important promoters of your business—one by one, win by win. 

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Friction is any impediment your customers encounter along the way, and will slow down your flywheel. In terms of marketing, this means you want to make your content as easily accessible and as enjoyable or informative as possible. When a customer hits a roadblock, they may decide to end their journey with you then and there, so it’s important to identify potential areas of friction.
  2. When your flywheel spins freely, it can be a powerful, self-sustaining tool that can continually bring in leads and prospects. 
  3. Brand recognition and engaging your customer with social media, word of mouth and rich content experiences all help keep the flywheel spinning, allowing you to gain and retain customers.
  4. Think about YOUR specific flywheel and the type of experiences that will best serve to “delight” YOUR audience. Additionally, consider when and where those experiences will reside, further reducing friction points for customers. Even a good message put forth at the wrong time can create a roadblock.

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Why Simply Leap, When You Can Fly?

What does this mean for your business? Spin your flywheel, build on your momentum, keep it going, limit friction along key points in your customers’ journey…and you may just find your company can make the leap from good to great.