Spoiler alert: Yes, you do. 

Flywheel marketing is a powerful way to spur business growth and fast-track your company's success. In this article, I'll break down the marketing funnel vs flywheel and make a compelling case for implementing a flywheel approach today. 

Before we dive in, let's briefly look at three fascinating secrets of a tech company with $50 million in ARR. It circles back to flywheel marketing, I promise. 😉 

Now… have you heard of Zapier? 

A product that "helps you get stuff done," Zapier allows users to integrate various applications from across the web. 

In eight years, Zapier went from a weekend side hustle between friends to $50 million in ARR (and profitability after only two years.) 

Their case study is a fascinating read, so check it out. Here's what I find interesting from the article: 

Zapier largely attributes their extraordinary success to their customer-first mentality. From the get-go, Zapier:

  • Built one-to-one relationships with customers and focused on individualized outreach over mass marketing
  • Ensured everyone at the company took turns with customer support, so each employee understood the customer's needs and pain points
  • Made their customers the hero of their story by creating a customer-first content marketing strategy

When you focus on listening to your customers — on truly delighting them — you create an unshakable foundation on which to build your business. And, if you're anything like Zapier, you grow to $50 million in revenue. Not bad results. 


...this is why flywheel marketing matters. 

With flywheel marketing, you view your customers as the energy propelling your business forward — and you adjust your strategy appropriately. Let’s take a look.

What is flywheel marketing?

First introduced in 2018 by Hubspot co-founder Brian Halligan, marketing flywheels are a new way to look at the relationship between marketing and how buyers interact with your brand.

Rather than a traditional funnel that filters prospects to purchase, Halligan proposed that today's marketing should be like a momentum-building wheel — one where delighted customers accelerate your growth and sales. 

So, what exactly is a flywheel? 

Simply put, a flywheel is an energy-efficient wheel just like those on your car. As you feed a flywheel more energy, it turns faster. Friction slows the wheel down. 

Your customers are the energy propelling your marketing flywheel forward. Raving fans spin your business towards success. 

Hubspot explains there are three main influences on how fast your flywheel spins:

1. How fast you spin the wheel

Does your business have a customer-first mentality across marketing, sales, customer service, product development, and management? 

2. How much friction your wheel encounters

Is poor market/fit, disorganized upper management, or lack of internal processes slowing down your marketing flywheel?

3. How big your wheel is

The larger the flywheel, the faster it goes; the more happy customers promoting your brand, the quicker your business grows. 

To get the best ROI from your marketing flywheel, it's important to have a strategy for each of these three forces. 

The marketing funnel vs flywheel

In case you need a refresher, let's quickly revisit the marketing funnel…

A visualization process used to understand the customer journey, the marketing funnel is how buyers filter through the following stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

Marketing and sales use these stages to understand the buyer's psychology and adjust their strategy accordingly. 

Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with the funnel, and it can still be a valuable tool for your business. Here's where it falls short, though:

Funnels are decidedly linear. You focus on getting as many people into the Awareness stage as possible, hoping enough will trickle down to Conversion (and, if you’re lucky, Loyalty and Advocacy.)

Here's the thing:

The world has changed dramatically since the marketing funnel was first introduced in 1898. 

Obviously, technology and businesses have changed, but so too has how customers interact with companies. 

We're all constantly inundated with marketing messages, and we now have more choices than ever. Plus, we have all the researching tools we need at our fingertips. 

Before you make a purchase, it's likely you read third-party review sites, follow influencers on social media, or reach out personally to your network for suggestions. It's the reality of our socially connected digital age — and the numbers agree.

90% of people are more likely to buy from a brand recommended to them by a friend, and word-of-mouth marketing accounts for $6 trillion of annual consumer spending. 

The marketing flywheel considers the staggering importance of brand advocacy, and both you and your delighted customers win. 

How to start using marketing flywheels

So, ready to make the shift from a funnel to a flywheel?

There are three main segments to the marketing flywheel:

  • Attract
  • Engage
  • Delight

When your business has a strategy for each of these three phases, you'll create raving fans that propel your wheel forward. 

Think again of Zapier. Whether or not they considered their marketing a flywheel vs funnel, the company clearly had a customer-first approach for each of these three segments. Zapier:

  • Attracted customers with one-to-one outreach marketing
  • Engaged customers with an inbound marketing strategy focused on the buyer's needs and desires
  • Delighted customers with first-rate customer service 

As you create your flywheel marketing strategy, don't forget the opposing force to accelerated growth: friction.

Where is your business experiencing friction, and how can you create streamlined processes to absolve resistance?

Shifting from a funnel to a flywheel — and identifying areas of internal friction along the way — isn't an easy process. It involves getting your entire onboard, adjusting mindsets, and likely overhauling complete strategies. 

Whether you're a start-up looking to implement efficient marketing flywheels from the get-go or a company ready to reexamine your marketing strategy, we're here to help.