The Marketing Funnel vs. The Flywheel

The Reno-Tahoe branch of the American Marketing Association welcomed Noble Studios’ VP of Performance Marketing Chad Hallert to their November 2019 luncheon to present “It’s Time to Break Up With The Marketing Funnel.” But don’t worry, it’s been a long time coming.

The marketing funnel and its process of introducing an audience to your brand worked for many years after its inception in 1924. Since then, the complexity of the individual buyer’s journey has gotten more convoluted than ever. Companies are increasingly looking for ways to stand out from their competitors who all sell similar versions of the same product or services.

The Build Up Before the Break Up

The funnel in its hay-day boasted a linear process to success. It’s what most marketers were taught in school. It’s what some marketers today still hold onto.

Customers enter the funnel at an awareness stage, move down to consideration and end up at the final stage or eventual purchase. By following the traditional marketing funnel, you view consumers as an output, or just the means to the end of your marketing efforts, and not as the driving force keeping your business up and running.

Linear in nature, the primary hub of the funnel is customer acquisition and a one time purchase. Each part of the funnel is seen as a separate entity, different than the others. There is no emphasis on the lifetime value of the customer, and the funnel does not reflect the complexity of the buyer’s journey.

There Has to be a Better Way

As marketing channels evolved and the level of noise increased thanks to the internet, the average person became exposed to a virtually unlimited amount of information. This changed the behavior of customers and the way they move through the buyer’s journey.

What was once a linear process has now transformed into consumers bouncing across increasing amounts of touch points before deciding to make even the simplest of purchases.

Hallert explained how this has created ample opportunity for marketers to adopt a new marketing model that puts emphasis on a customer’s experience with your brand, product of service that can make all the difference to your bottom line.

Enter the Marketing Flywheel

Hallert introduced a new consumer centric marketing model he heard about at HubSpot’s INBOUND19 Conference dubbed “the flywheel.”

The flywheel takes the existing marketing funnel and reimagines it with the customer placed at the center of all marketing decisions – from initial campaign development all the way through customers’ final purchasing decision.

Like an actual flywheel, the effectiveness of the model is dependent upon the amount of energy you put into it.

It’s about continuously optimizing your marketing strategies so you’re meeting customers in the middle of their individual buyer’s journey with an engaging content strategy that aligns with your market opportunities. The continuous optimization of these processes only keeps the flywheel spinning faster, and in turn generates pipeline you can count on that will only keep growing if you keep it fueled like a well oiled machine.

Make Your Move: Embrace the Flywheel

After explaining the many advantages of adopting a flywheel model, Hallert gave the AMA audience three practical factors that fuel growth within the flywheel. Developing a strategy in each area of the flywheel can accelerate growth within your organization. The following three factors dictate how much momentum and energy your flywheel can create.

  • Speed – How fast are you spinning the wheel?
  • Friction – Are you limiting external forces or friction so the wheel can stay in motion?
  • Composition – How big is your flywheel? Does it take much effort to get the wheel moving?

The Bottom Line

The faster the flywheel turns, the more energy it produces. When friction is reduced, more power is generated. As the flywheel grows in weight and speed, momentum increases. All phases of the buyer’s journey are treated as equally important, with the customer being the center focus.

The Payoff

Hallert concluded his presentation explaining how Noble Studios leveraged a similar customer centric model with one of our clients, Travel Nevada.

Travel Nevada sought to position Nevada as The Road Trip Capital of the U.S.because of the state’s vast open roads. To capture the interests of two-target audiences, in-market travelers and Nevada locals, we took a content-first approach, with easily digestible information to exceed user’s expectations.

By providing visitors to Travel Nevada’s site personalized content through redesigned itineraries and directories, easily digestible listicles, immersive photos, clear calls to action (CTAs) and shareable content from each itinerary, users experienced “bite size” simplified content that reduced the friction users previously faced when planning road trips. Traffic to the site from email increased 117% in just 90 days from launching the new program.

Want to adopt your own strategies to ditch the marketing funnel and fully embrace the flywheel? Check out our content marketing services.