top of page

Here’s Why it’s Time to Replace Your Sales Funnel with a Flywheel Marketing Model

A gecko walking on the highway with a suitcase, entitled "Time for Change"

Chances are you think of your business as a funnel, with a fairly large number of people knowing about your company, a smaller number of people engaging with your company, and an even smaller number of those becoming your customers.

Visualizing a funnel is easy, but more strategizing must be done to create a constant flow. For example, in the physical world, you pour something into the top of a funnel and wait for it to come out at the end. Simple enough. But—

If your clients love your company and product, they'll tell people about it, which means that the bottom of the funnel is now feeding the top of the funnel. And, if they have a terrible experience, they'll tell friends about that too, which can prevent people from entering the top of your funnel.

The problem with the sales funnel model is that it considers customers an outcome — nothing more, nothing less. All the energy and money you spend acquiring that customer is wasted, leaving you at square one.

In this article, we'll review the Flywheel Marketing model, explore its connection to your Inbound strategy, and give you actionable ideas for speedy growth at every stage. Let's begin!


Table of Contents

What is the Flywheel Marketing Model?

The Sales Funnel vs. the Flywheel Marketing Model

The Inbound Methodology and Flywheel Marketing

Fueling Your Flywheel Marketing Model with Force

What are Some Examples of Force in Flywheel Marketing?

Reducing Friction in your Flywheel Marketing

The Flywheel Marketing Model and Dunlavey Solutions: A Love Story


What is the Flywheel Marketing Model?

An infographic explaining how the three stages of the Inbound Methodology fit into the Flywheel methodology
The Flywheel Model

The Flywheel is a marketing model that explains the momentum you gain when you align your entire organization around delivering a remarkable customer experience.

The amount of energy it stores depends on how fast it spins, the amount of friction it encounters, and its size. Think of it like the wheels on a train or a car.

This energy is beneficial when considering how customers can help your business grow.

The rotation of your Flywheel represents the growth of your business, with happy customers providing the energy when they buy from you again or bring new clients to you by promoting your product in their network.

But if you produce unhappy customers, they’ll work against your Flywheel and slow your company’s growth.

The Flywheel marketing model is a more comprehensive, unified way of representing the forces affecting your company's growth.


The Sales Funnel vs. the Flywheel Marketing Model

I know what you're thinking: What about the sales funnel? For years, companies have structured their business strategies around the funnel — and it worked! But the funnel is failing today's marketers, salespeople, and business leaders, while the Flywheel marketing model has been picking up steam over the last ten years.

The largest corporations in America have switched to the Flywheel model, including companies like Amazon, Vanguard, The Cleveland Clinics, and Intel.

Conversations happen in more places, among more people, than ever before. The funnel was a good representation of how buyers used to learn about products — they found (or were sent) marketing materials, they had to speak to salespeople to find out more information, and then they became customers.

Today, 57% of B2B purchase processes are completed before buyers ever reach out to vendors. And buyers aren't looking to your company's marketing materials to make that decision.

Third-party review sites, peer-to-peer recommendations, and word-of-mouth play a more prominent role in buying decisions than ever before. At the same time, overall trust in businesses is plummeting.

81% of buyers trust friend and family recommendations more than a company's marketing, and 55% report trusting the businesses they buy from less than they used to.

A comparison graphic displaying the different approaches of the classic sales funnel and the flywheel

The traditional funnel doesn't account for any of these factors. And because they're linear, funnels don't reveal the momentum you build through a great product and customer experience or the drag your company will suffer when your processes start to slow down growth.

Removing friction from your internal processes means you can spin your Flywheel like the Price is Right wheel and win BIG.

Most importantly, when paired with the inbound methodology, the Flywheel reveals how essential your customer experience is to your success. The 'delight' stage powers the 'attract' stage because how you treat your customers affects what prospects hear about you.

The Flywheel marketing model facilitates a detailed evaluation of where your business is growing fastest, revealing your most promising areas of opportunity.

Don't worry. We recognize that funnels are going to be around for a while. While the Flywheel is a better metaphor for how today's organizations grow, you will still have funnel-shaped charts and graphs representing the effectiveness of different processes within your company.

You may end up using a funnel chart to improve a particular aspect of your business performance. Just remember, even though a process can easily be visualized as a funnel, it's actually one piece of a larger Flywheel.


The Inbound Methodology and Flywheel Marketing

The inbound methodology focuses on presenting the perfect content for every step of your buyer's journey. The Flywheel marketing model goes a step further by establishing processes that facilitate client success at each stage. Together, these two elements create your customer's experience.

By refocusing on customer experience in the Attract phase, you can attract visitors with helpful content and eliminate barriers as they try to learn about our company. The key is to earn people's attention, not force it.

Some ‘Attract’ forces you can apply are:

Infographic of a company attracting new clients
If only it were this easy!
  • Content marketing

  • Search engine optimization

  • Social media marketing

  • Social selling

  • Targeted paid advertising

  • Conversion rate optimization

In the engagement phase, make it easy to shop and buy from your company by enabling buyers to engage with you on their preferred timelines and channels. Focus on opening relationships, not just closing deals.

A man holding an example of customer engagement
If you build it, they will engage.

Some 'Engagement' forces include:

  • Website and email personalization

  • Database segmentation

  • Marketing automation

  • Lead nurturing

  • Multichannel communication (chat, phone, messaging, email)

  • Sales automation

  • Lead scoring

  • Try-before-you-buy programs

And finally, in the ‘Delight’ phase, you will support and empower customers to reach their goals. The Flywheel marketing model means going a step further to create opportunities for our customers to become our cheerleaders.

Word cloud that demonstrates the elements that comprise great customer service
The ingredients for Delight.

Some ‘Delight’ forces to leverage are:

  • Self-service (Knowledge base, user guides, chatbot)

  • Proactive customer service

  • Multichannel availability (chat, messaging, phone, email)

  • Ticketing systems

  • Automated onboarding

Companies that use the Flywheel marketing model over other models have a massive advantage because they aren't the only ones helping their business grow — their customers are also helping them succeed.

The Flywheel also helps eliminate friction and reduces clumsy handoffs between teams. In the funnel model, customers are often shuffled from marketing to sales to customer service. But with the Flywheel marketing model, every team member in the entire company is called to attract, engage, and delight customers.

When your teams are aligned around the inbound methodology, you can provide a more holistic, enjoyable experience to anyone interacting with your business.


Fueling your Flywheel Marketing with Force

A rocket firing for launch to demonstrate how to fuel your Flywheel with force
Get ready for lift-off!

In the Flywheel marketing model, you still use force at the top with content like blog posts, lead generators, and other things to attract visitors. But you're also delighting people throughout the entire experience so that they refer a friend, leave a positive review, or otherwise spread your brand, which is critical.

At Dunlavey Solutions, we looked at our sales funnel and realized we were focused on metrics that didn't matter to our prospects. Instead, we pivoted to focus on customer success.

As a result, customers see value in our offer faster, partner with us more often, and regularly refer us to their network.

You’ll have to sit down and write out all the forces where you get leverage across each phase of your Flywheel, where you're causing drag, and brainstorm how to adjust your efforts to maximize customer delight.


Your Roadmap to Explosive Growth: Change the Future of Your Business with Customer Journey Mapping Download

This FREE Guide will Lead Your Way

The FREE Guide: Your Roadmap to Explosive Growth takes you step by step as you gain deeper insights into your customer's experience.

Find your force. Lose the drag. And create the kind of experience your customers rave about.


What are Some Examples of Force in Flywheel Marketing?

Forces are programs and strategies you implement to speed up your Flywheel. For example, inbound marketing, a freemium model, frictionless selling, a customer referral program, paid advertising, and investing in your customer service team are all forces.


Reducing Friction in Your Flywheel Marketing Model

A can of WD 40 conveying reducing friction in your flywheel
Be gone, friction!

Since you're applying force to your Flywheel, you must ensure nothing opposes it. Poor internal processes, lack of team communication, or misalignment between your customers and employees all create friction that will slow your growth.

You can reduce friction in your Flywheel marketing model by looking at how your teams are structured, why customers are churning, and where prospects are getting stuck in the buyer's journey.

Are all your teams aligned, or are they operating independently? Is your pricing straightforward, or is it cluttered with confusing fees? Do you have triggered journeys to allow prospects to connect with you how, when, and where they want, or are their choices to interact with your company limited?


The Flywheel Marketing Model and Dunlavey Solutions: A Love Story

Here at Dunlavey Solutions, we've prioritized customer experience, advocacy, and seamless onboarding. We did this by systematically targeting our most troublesome points of conflict: channels that help people connect now instead of later and a sales process that solves for prospects.

In 2023 and beyond, the biggest threat to your company's growth isn't your competitors. It's a lousy customer experience.

That's why companies must place their customers at the center of their businesses and value their relationships, not just deals. At Dunlavey Solutions, growing better means remembering that our customers are people first, not numbers on a spreadsheet — which means we interact with them how and when they want.

So, chatbots? Yes. Instagram DMs? You bet! Self-service portals? Definitely. Our world revolves around our customers, which shows in our performance results. Get started on your Flywheel Marketing model and get ready for sustained growth and happy clients.


Next Steps

Change isn't easy, and strategizing takes some real brain power that we humans don't always have on tap. Not to worry! In this article, you can learn how a Customer Journey Map, your Content Strategy, and your Flywheel Marketing model work together to make everything about your business streamlined, efficient, and delightful.

And, of course, if you’d like some help with your copywriting, content, or strategy, I’m standing by with transparent processes, seamless onboarding, and a gracious disposition to deliver YOU an exceptional experience that checks all your boxes.

bottom of page