Businesses big and small have been spending more time lately debating about a new approach to marketing for customer acquisition. It’s sort of like someone coming along and saying there’s a better way to understand the universe than Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity – which recently celebrated its 100th birthday.

For clarification, a sales funnel has been the traditional way to visualize where your prospects are in the process of making a buying decision. One of the best explanations we’ve come across was carted by optinmonster.com. But the funnel is getting competition, in the form of a flywheel.

A look at the marketing flywheel

While the traditional sales funnel has six states for a customer (Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Purchase, Loyalty, Advocacy), the flywheel basically says the customer is going nowhere. They’re at the center, and it’s the brand that’ll do all the moving.

The three states of the customer are transformed to just three states of an organization:

  1. Marketing (Attract)
  2. Sales (Engage)
  3. Service (Delight)

The biggest advantage of looking at customer acquisition through inbound marketing this way is that it involves the customer in helping the business grow.

What is a flywheel, anyway?

The real thing is an extremely heavy wheel that takes a huge amount of energy to start spinning. Or as Einstein says, E=mc2. But, it’s worthwhile to get that flywheel spinning because eventually it starts to help spin itself because of its own momentum.

There’s debate about who actually invented the marketing flywheel concept, but most agree that it was inspired by Jeff Bezos, the Einstein over at Amazon.

Why marketers love the flywheel

In this model, growth and customers are at the center, and everything literally revolves around them. Each step of marketing – attracting, engaging, and delighting – feeds the next one until it completes the revolution.

Because the customers never fall out of the loop (what happens to them when they get to the bottom of a sales funnel?), there’s no friction or lost energy to slow down the flywheel. There’s no such thing as a perpetual motion machine, but you have to admit that a flywheel approach to growing your business is much more energy-efficient than a sales funnel. The most obvious reason is that both the real physical one and the sales funnel have no solution that returns what comes out the bottom back to the top. The flywheel truly creates the opportunity for repeat customers and customer advocacy.

And that’s crucial. Social media has turned word-of-mouth, recommendations, and testimonials into the preferred way for consumers to make buying decisions today. You must have marketing efforts which include a way to harness the opportunity to turn satisfied customers into advocates who sell for you.

The traditional sales funnel requires organizations to put a never ending effort into widening its top. Expanding awareness is ongoing – expanding like Einstein’s theory of the universe. The funnel replaces Awareness with Delight. The service you provide, which fuels their delight, closes the loop by attracting more customers through referrals.

Starting the flywheel

Adopting the marketing flywheel to take the place of a sales funnel requires one important constant. You must have a successful lead generation system to create the customers who will move to the flywheel’s center. We can help.