IAA | From funnel to flywheel marketing; Good is the Enemy of Great
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Ana Maria Mircea, IAA Young Professionals Member, Romania Chapter

From funnel to flywheel marketing; Good is the Enemy of Great

If you are one of the many marketers who are in search of creative and intelligent solutions for their business, you are probably more than familiar to the component parts of the marketing funnel: awareness, interest, evaluation, decision and purchase.

But the big disadvantage of this linear concept is that it works until the buyer's first conversion. And here comes the question: what's going on in the customer journey, what experiences do the brands offer after the successful start represented by a first conversion?

The marketing funnel has prioritized the importance of marketing and sales strategies, instead of customer service strategies. In this manner, the marketing and sales strategies have an important contribution to creating a customer experience designed to lead to loyalty and, consequently, transform a business into a growth tool.

Thus, the flywheel marketing concept proposes an extension of the vision and understanding of business strategies towards integrated campaigns that include successful sales, the development of effective marketing campaigns, as well as services designed to retain customers and to reward them. In this context come all the benefits from the long-term relationship: the precious word of mouth that has remained until today the most powerful influencing factor in buying behavior, generating cross-selling, upselling and reaching to the position of brand ambassador.

Let's start with the beginning...

To better understand the concept of flywheel marketing, let's first understand the origins of the name Invented by James Watt, the term 'flywheel' refers to a disc that rotates around an axis. It has numerous industrial applications and it can be found as a component part of the car engines, ships or in many other places where the energy needs to be generated, amplified, stored and stabilized. 
The flywheel effect, described in a very representative way by Jim Collins, in his book 'Good to Great' refers to a massive metal disc of approx. 2200 kg, mounted horizontally on an axis. Collins asks the reader to imagine they are trying to rotate the huge disk around its axis. At first, this is very difficult, but with every effort made, it gets easier and the disk starts to catch speed... "Then, at some point, victory! The impulse now works in your favor, pushing the disc forward, rotation after rotation ... whoosh! ... your own weight working in your favor! You don’t have to push more than when the disc made its first rotation, but now the disc is spinning faster and faster... Every rotation takes its power from the previous one, multiplying the investment made so far. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand times, then a hundred thousand times. The giant disc flies ahead, in an unstoppable soar. "
This is a metaphor with important meanings for any business strategy. It’s important to note that the peak moment is not the result of a single impulse, taken in its singularity. On the contrary, the energy is built up of many small impulses and the whole can be considered larger than the sum of its individual parts.

What is flywheel marketing?

The flywheel marketing strategy is an integrated concept that brings together the three basic pillars of any business (marketing, sales and customer service) and aligns them to work effectively for your business. The fact that for developing a successful business, one needs to create a customer journey that delivers a specific experience for each stage of the buyer's interaction with the brand is no longer a secret. The flywheel concept reinvents the stages of the marketing funnel and proposes the following structure:

  • Attract - Provides value before claiming value:
    Win your buyers' attention through quality products and campaigns that deserve their attention.
  • Engage - Create an affordable and enjoyable customer experience:
    Replace "closing the deal" thinking with the development of long-term relationships that provide insight and solutions that meet the needs of your customers.
  • Delight - The success of your customer is your success.

Be there for your customers and make sure they make a successful choice when they choose your product again and again, by providing remarkable experiences that turn them into ambassadors for your brand.

Flywheel - Integrated Business Strategy

As stated earlier, the three pillars (marketing, sales and customer service) have to work together. Aligning departments is a very important aspect that reduces friction between teams and leads to avoiding slowing the disc rotation, that translates into poor results:


The funnel is a tool designed to generate experiences for 'one time buyers', while customers who go through the flywheel experience will develop long-lasting relationships with the brand, sharing the story with future possible customers and turning into brand promoters/marketers.

2. Sales

It has been shown by numerous studies that the best source of conversion is the recommendation given by the family, friends, acquaintances (to the detriment of salesmen's influence or advertising campaigns). The future is not just about bringing new customers, but building meaningful relationships with existing customers that nourish the development of your business from within.

3Client service

The big change that comes with the adoption of the flywheel strategy is the rethought role of the customer service department, which now has an equally important role as the marketing and sales departments. The role it accomplishes is to delight the customer in its interaction with the brand and provide reasons to come back and tell the brand story further.

Food for thought...
Finally, I leave you with the following food for thought: to have a different outcome, a change of approach is needed. Adopting a different strategy will inevitably lead to a different outcome and thus a distinct way of running a business.
Things are constantly evolving and what yesterday seemed an ideal solution for business, today it no longer brings the desired results. This is due to changes that occur both in the external environment - fierce competition but also well-informed consumers, professionals (prosumers), as well as internal changes - the human perception is in an continuous evolution, what yesterday seemed an unimportant aspect, today it seems to give us a different view and raise our understanding to another level.
So, in order to have different results, what changes have you thought of implementing?

The article was written by Ana Maria Mircea, member of IAA Young Professionals Romania.


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