If you're not progressing, you're dying.
That might sound like a heavy statement, but it's the truth. Especially in this industry.
The fact is, the marketing funnel was dying. Sure, it was something easy to lean on, and we all felt comfortable seeing it and talking about it, but it just didn't truly encompass the inbound methodology, or where it was going.
And why was that?
Because the funnel doesn't reflect the importance of one crucial relationship: the one with your customer.
In fact, the traditional funnel sort of just spit them out, using its top, middle and bottom to attract and nurture leads into customers, but never doing anything with them once they fully came through.
That's when Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, decided to step in.
"For years, Brian Halligan drew funnels on whiteboards at virtually every meeting," explains Jed Morey, president of Morey Creative Studios. "We were inculcated as partners of HubSpot to draw prospects through several lifecycle stages such as awareness, consideration, decision-making, and ultimately, delight. But it was the 'delight' piece that was often an afterthought, prompting Halligan to announce a seminal shift in thinking at HubSpot."
This shift came at Inbound 2018, HubSpot's annual conference, where thought leaders, partners, agencies, SEO nerds, and the like all flock to Boston, Massachusetts to talk industry and network with the best of the best. Here, Halligan took the stage and declared that the funnel was dead, immediately to be replaced by a mechanism that efficiently stores rotational energy: The Flywheel.
And we're loving the flywheel here at Morey.
"Totally for it," says Account Manager Melissa DellaBartolomea. "Makes sense in all the right ways: customer-centric, self-perpetuating/momentum-based (in theory), etc."
What's the purpose of the flywheel?
Thinking about your growth model in terms of a flywheel will help you understand the entire Buyer's Journey in a way that creates a greater experience and promotes constant rotation. When you switch from a funnel to a flywheel, the way that you contemplate your choices are going to change, too.
1. It uses a circular motion rather than linear. The flywheel is fueled by customers, meaning that businesses will need to invest more in their satisfaction to keep it spinning. Customer experience, customer marketing, customer advocacy, loyalty programs, and a smooth on boarding or transactional experience are going to be necessities.
2. Reducing friction will be crucial for constant rotation. Friction kills flywheels. Just think about it: A rotating wheel stops the second something gets caught in it—that's what friction is. To reduce the friction in your flywheel, you're going to have to take a hard look at any pain points that might be disrupting the customer experience. Do you need more customer educational resources? Better customer service? A revised onboarding? Solving for your friction will improve the overall health of your flywheel.
"The importance of the flywheel cannot be overstated," continues Morey. "It's more than a visual interpretation of the customer journey. It's a way to recalibrate the way we view customers as sellers."
With the flywheel, customers are not only included in the new growth model, but they're at the center of it, helping to give the entire system the momentum to continue spinning. With the funnel, customers were produced, but considering how they could help your business grow was never worked into the overarching business plan, whereas the flywheel takes advantage of the momentum built to acquire that customer, and uses it to gain new ones.
"Online customer reviews, social shares and emailed recommendations, among customer bases, are the new word of mouth," says Morey. "As consumers ourselves, Halligan challenged us to think about our own purchasing behaviors and decision-making, making it personal and real to us all. We are all more likely to purchase based upon a friendly referral than we are on a cold call or basic search. We're programmed to read reviews—beginning with the negative ones; it's okay to admit that—before we buy, chat or ask for more information. In a follow-the-leader culture where products gain traction by the sheer volume of social engagements versus traditional broadcast and outdoor media campaigns, it's essential to curate positive responses from consumers."
This all ties back to basic human instinct: Do as your friends do. The fact is, we'll all trust our friends' opinions before we trust the words of a business trying to take our money, so ensuring that your customers have a wonderful experience before, during and after the sale is crucial.
SAY IT WITH ME: "YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF BUSINESS."
ONCE MORE: "YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF BUSINESS."
And happy customers? Whoa. A happy customer that feels you genuinely care about them is one of the most powerful driving forces of new business. Because they want to help you. And they want to help their friends find you, because they want to be the person in the know.
What does this all mean? How can you actually leverage that customer and take advantage of the momentum you gained while acquiring them?
The once-sorta-overlooked afterthought stage of The Buyer's Journey now takes precedence, illuminating the entire quest through this lens.
It's actually really cool.
Choosing to put more resources into delighting your customers will not only give your business a positive reputation, but it'll create an army of customers who gush about your services to their friends.
Some ways to delight your customers include:
Always follow up.
This means asking how they like your product or service once they've purchased it. This is also a bonus step, because it fosters honest reviews.
Under promise. Over deliver.
Nothing feels better than getting more than what you expected. This can mean a variety of things when it comes to your business. Whether you provide a service and give your customer a surprise add-on, or you send a product with a handwritten note, giving your customer more than what they anticipated is sure to increase delight.
Provide spectacular customer service.
Don't leave your customers hanging after they've purchased. If they have questions, respond quickly. Share educational resources, if it makes sense: guides, how-tos, articles, FAQs. Helping your customers not only efficiently use your product or service, but also assisting them in any way they need, will ensure they feel they're getting more than what they paid for.
Make them feel special.
This can be done in a variety of ways. Are you popular on social media? Repost them wearing your product or using your service. Have their information stored? Wish them a happy birthday. Send an email at their one-year anniversary of being your customer. Give a discount or provide a loyalty program. Making your customer feel all warm and fuzzy about who your business is will give them even more reason to recommend you to their friends.
We couldn't be more excited to embrace the flywheel.
Want to learn more about it? Listen to our 'Inbound & Down' episode "The Age of The Flywheel."
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