We are in marketing, so we are always attracted to new models. A colorful Powerpoint allows us to represent a new and complex reality (and this makes us feel cool when talking to colleagues).
However, the flywheel is not just a model; it is a representation of a new ecosystem vision of business growth, born within two clear trends:
- budgets and energies invested in an uncoordinated manner, resulting in the generation of stress (rather than results);
- increasingly sophisticated customer buying habits; marketing promotions become promises to be fulfilled throughout the purchase journey; and never before has the 1-in-8 ratio of negative word-of-mouth been revised downward.
The second time we invent the wheel.
Imagine you have a wheel spinning at high speed, the more the wheel spins the more energy it creates.
This energy is especially useful when thinking about how customers can help you grow your business.
Other models consider customers only as an outcome: all the energy spent to acquire that customer is wasted, and you are back to square one.
HubSpot’s Flywheel is represented in the center by the word “Growth” and surrounded by three phases that feed into each other: “Attract” which feeds “Engage” which feeds “Delight” which feeds “Attract” again, and so on. An outer ring shows how “Unknowns” become “Prospects,” then “Customers,” and finally “Promoters” who attract new “Unknowns.”
Comparison with funnel
The major differences with the classic funnel relate to scope: the funnel (whichever you decide to use) lends itself to telling the story of a customer’s buying process up to the ACT or conversion stage, in which marketing usually exhausted by the upper 3/4 levels stops and leaves the ball to operations.
The other key concept is the different importance given to customers: depending on the industry they can become positive word-of-mouth, case studies, referrals, reviews or even brand ambassadors.
Forces and frictions
The concepts that we believe are most effective to put into practice right away are those of force and friction (or friction): forces are all that accelerate the energy of the flywheel, frictions all that slow down this momentum.
- FORCE: Any activity that brings in new people or accelerates the process of attraction is considered a force.
- CLUTCH: Not all friction or friction is “harmful”; for example, in skiing or motoring people brake to have more control, and as Pirelli said in a famous TV commercial in the 1990s, “power is nothing without control.”
- NEGATIVE CLUTCH: Negative clutches are usually found at intersections, both team and technology. An example of negative friction between marketing and sales could occur when the lead is not worked on right away or perhaps when they are contacted without having all the information that marketing has (painstakingly) gathered. At a technological level, we have negative frictions when, for example, campaigns are not aligned, the site from mobile is not up to date or does not have a good UX, or when systems do not talk to each other and the customer has to duplicate efforts at the various touch points with the company.
- POSITIVE FRICTION: A positive friction occurs when we create a limitation or block to the customer that results in helping brand positioning. For example, creating a waiting list for a product can increase its desirability and creates the expectation of a more organized service.
Why, then, is the flywheel particularly interesting?
Because it changes the approach and helps the practitioner put himself in the customer’s shoes and evaluate the effect of touch points throughout the relationship (seems to be important for companies that want to automate, digitize, or scale their business model!).
The advice is to identify the touch points between technology and team integrations, as these are the ones most at risk and with the greatest potential for improvement. Once those have been identified, it is important to start a discussion in the company about how to connect the various teams together or integrate different technologies, perhaps by getting expert support.
Now is the time to spin the wheel, rien ne va plus!