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After you have updated your stylesheet, make sure you turn this module off

The Marketing Funnel Only Tells Part of the Business Growth Story — We Need a New Model

Tyler Pigott on September 19, 2018
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The Funnel Illustrates Only a Fraction of Growth — We Need a New Model

Business growth takes more than marketing. You absolutely need marketing to generate leads. But you also need to convert those leads to customers and keep them happy enough to stay customers for the long term. The funnel that marketers know and love only illustrates part of the process. This year, at the 2018 INBOUND conference, HubSpot unveiled a more accurate visual that speaks to the whole story and gives companies a framework for business growth: the flywheel.

The funnel emphasizes attracting new leads, which the sales team will hopefully nurture through each phase and ultimately turn into customers. It’s an accurate model that reflects an essential process. But once a prospect is converted, the funnel doesn’t really have anything to offer.

hubspot inbound methodology

Your Company’s Growth Revolves Around Your Customers

In the flywheel model, your business revolves around your customers — because that’s how real companies thrive. You want your customers to continue to buy from you. And, perhaps even more importantly, you want your customers to spread the word about your company to their colleagues, friends, and family. To create happy customers that will continue to buy and to recommend your products and services, you have to be focused on delighting them. You need to make their experience memorable, easy, and enjoyable.

No amount of marketing can make up for bad word-of-mouth. And (even though we’re marketers, we admit it), no amount of marketing can compete in effectiveness with widespread, positive word-of-mouth. Your prospects will always believe what their peers have to say about your company over what you have to say about your company.

inbound marketing flywheel

Content Isn’t Enough

Content that answers your prospects’ questions and provides value is great, even essential. Buyers expect it. But every company nowadays is publishing helpful content. To rise above your competitors, you need something more than content.

The flywheel shows you what that something is: customer delight through top-notch, innovative service. When you add delighted customers to the mix, you suddenly have that extra magic that your competitors can’t match: highly positive word-of-mouth.

Most Companies Forget How Important Customers Are

The precise numbers vary depending on the industry you’re in, but with every type of business, it’s more expensive to generate a new customer than it is to sell to existing customers. This fact, combined with the value of positive word-of-mouth, makes you wonder why companies aren’t more focused on customer service.

So what does this mean for you and your business? We’re making the following recommendations to our clients:

  1. Focus on customer-centric content, like case studies, testimonials, and client stories.
    • Mid-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel content is more important than ever. Prospects want to see proof that you have happy customers and that you’re actually making a difference in their lives. They want to hear in your customers’ words what the experience has been like working with you. Again, you can’t abandon top-of-the-funnel content for those who are just beginning the buying journey. But you’ll need to heavily integrate customer-centric content into your strategy, throughout the various stages in the buyer’s journey.
  2. Build an amazing customer experience.
    • Your customer experience has to be best-in-class. All of your teams have a role to play in this experience — not just the customer service team. Marketing can create content like onboarding workflows, product tip sheets, and knowledge base answers. Sales can spearhead referral programs and upsell/cross-sell programs. Customer service can work with both teams to craft feedback surveys that uncover how you can improve. (And you can hire Lone Fir to collaborate with your team to craft customer delight strategies and to implement those strategies!)
  3. Get Creative
    • When you’re building your customer experience, think outside the box. If your company is B2B, look at what B2C companies are doing. If your company is B2C, see what you can apply from the nonprofit world. Strive to create a brand that inspires. Create aspirational messaging and content that energizes your customers. Explore chatbots and other technologies to make buying and receiving service simple and enjoyable. Start with a blank slate and imagine what the customer experience could look like.

The Funnel Isn’t Dead, but the Flywheel is Winning

In today’s race for business growth, the funnel is lagging at the back of the pack. The flywheel is far ahead, and there’s no doubt that it will win the race. When you’re thinking about your business and planning for future growth, be sure that you have the full picture in mind. Don’t forget how important your customers are!


Need help strategizing or implementing the flywheel? Schedule a free 30-minute, no-pressure consult call. We’ll answer your questions and share ideas to grow your business.


Topics: Inbound Marketing, Grow My Business, HubSpot