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RIP: The Marketing Funnel Is Dead

Katie Briante
November 19, 2018 at 8:38 AM

Two of the major concerns in any business are "how am I going to attract customers" and "what can I do to keep them coming back". Typically those two questions are dealt with in two different way with two different groups of people. Sales and Marketing handle attracting customers and Customer Services and Customer Relations handles retaining customers.

Would you believe me if I told you that those two questions not only go hand in hand but, if done right, also feed into one another?

How do you do that? Well, I am glad you asked. You can doing using something called a Flywheel. This essentially replaces the traditional marketing funnel that we’ve been using.

Basically, instead of thinking of the buyers process as linear, where you attract customers to your business, then some of them interact with your business, some of them buy from your business, and then you have to start all over - you think of it as cyclical. 

In a cyclical buyers process, you attract customers, some interact, some buy and then they share your business with their network, thus attracting new customers for you. Then they go through the cycle and so on and so forth, keeping the flywheel spinning.

The Funnel Verses The Flywheel

Now, people in the marketing sphere are very used to the marketing funnel (the linear approach) and might be a little wary of change. It’s ok, change can be a little scary but I promise that it will help you (and even save you some work) in the long run.

It helps to think of these two processes as similar to their physical forms. Think about how a physical funnel works, you pour water (all of your leads) into the top and it comes out of the bottom (the end of your buyers journey). Once the water goes through the funnel, for anything to keep happening you need to getting more water and keep pouring it in. 

Hubspot Gray Funnel

Basically, you are the one that has to keep putting in the work, gaining new leads and walking through the buyers process if you want the funnel to keep working.

Now, let’s picture a flywheel, think of something like game show spinner. You put in the initial work, you spin the wheel and it will keep going until something stops it. Now, if you do nothing it will eventually stop, but if you give it a little helping hand every once in a while it will just keep on going. 

HubSpot Flywheel

The best part about this wheel is that the helping hand doesn’t always have to come from you. You get the wheel going and the energy powering the wheel to keep spinning will be the people who are already on the wheel, sharing you with their network, keeping the cycle going.

Some of the customers that buy from you will return because of your excellent product or your stellar customer service but some of them won’t and that’s ok (and this is another great part). Your goal is, even if they don’t buy from you again, they will have had a quality enough experience that they will still recommend you to their friends and coworkers, still keeping that wheel spinning.

Changing to this process will not only help you and your company but it will keep your customers happy because you are putting them at the center of everything and making sure that the focus is on them.

It may be a little different than what we’re all used to, but that's the nature of anything new. In this case, we're talking about the new-ish world of Inbound Marketing, a strategy that focuses on delivering timely, relevant and actionable content to your ideal customers. By leveraging the flywheel and inbound marketing properly, you will grow your business, increase customer retention and build your authority as a thought leader.

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