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Building Momentum: Using the Flywheel Model to Drive Growth

See how the flywheel model can help your business grow. Learn how to build momentum and achieve lasting success.

Whether you've just launched your startup or have years of experience as an entrepreneur, growing your business is undoubtedly your top priority. However, in today’s fast-paced business environment, simply achieving growth is no longer enough. To stay ahead of the competition, the most successful companies strive for consistent and sustainable growth. But how exactly can you accomplish this?

The flywheel model, inspired by the principles of physics, is a powerful tool that helps your business drive continuous progress. A departure from the traditional, linear sales funnel that emphasizes hitting short-term goals, it instead focuses on customer success and customer advocacy using cyclical stages, paving the way for repeat sales and long-term success.

In this article, we will delve into the ins and outs of the flywheel, including how it works, its benefits, and practical ways to implement it for your customer-facing teams. If you’re looking for a way to build lasting momentum for your business, read on to learn more.

In practical terms, a flywheel is a mechanical device used to store rotational energy. In the context of automobiles, for instance, it serves to maintain the engine's rotational momentum between piston firings, effectively preventing it from stalling.

Mechanically, a flywheel initially requires some work to start turning, but once in motion, it continues to rotate with its own momentum, demanding relatively little effort to keep it moving. This concept of leveraging momentum has been borrowed by the business world.

First developed by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t and later refined by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, in a business context, the flywheel is a visual representation of how successful customers drive momentum and help your business grow.

Although acquiring customers initially requires hard work, it’s work that’ll pay dividends. Through a cycle of repeated customer satisfaction, your existing customers eventually become your biggest advocates. By giving positive word-of-mouth recommendations to those around them, they become natural influencers, attracting new customers and prospective customers. As a result, your sales and marketing teams can spend less time on inbound marketing and invest more time in nurturing happy customers.

How does the flywheel model work?

The flywheel model operates on the principle of momentum. Separated into four stages, it feeds the positive experiences at each stage into the next to grow your business and propel it forward.

Here are the four main flywheel stages that make up a virtuous cycle:


This is the first stage of the flywheel business model. In this stage, your marketing team reaches out to potential customers to get your products and services on their radar. Through customer-centric content, influencer marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and more ways to create successful marketing campaigns, your marketing team members draw prospective customers in, capturing their attention and inspiring them to learn more about what you have to offer.


This next stage is perhaps the most important part of your flywheel business strategy. Once you’ve captured the attention of your new customers, you must encourage them to take action and do everything in your power to keep them engaged. This can involve offering them compelling deals, giving them access to loyalty programs, and any other actions that deliver them more value. Overall, you want to deepen their relationship with your brand through personalized interactions.


Happy customers are your biggest asset. After they have engaged with your products and services, you want to make sure they are satisfied with their customer experience. This stage often involves follow-up communication, support services, and efforts to exceed customer expectations. A satisfied customer is more likely to become a repeat customer. More importantly, they are more likely to start promoting your business to others.


The final stage in the flywheel is where the momentum to fuel the entire cycle is generated. When your most loyal customers begin sharing their positive experiences and recommending your products or services through online reviews, and social media, they drive referrals and contribute to your brand's organic growth. The new customers acquired through these endorsements can then engage with the same cycle, potentially becoming advocates for your business themselves. This dynamic creates a self-sustaining momentum that can power your business' continued growth and drive sales in any season.

Now that you have a better idea of how the flywheel cycle works, let's take a look at some of its most intriguing benefits.

Customer-centric approach

The goal of the flywheel cycle is to delight customers. By positioning customers at the heart of all your business activities, you cultivate strong relationships that will be mutually beneficial for years to come.

Sustainable growth

The flywheel creates a self-sustaining momentum, where satisfied customers become advocates and help to bring in more customers. This process can lead to consistent, sustainable growth as long as you continue to maintain high standards of customer satisfaction.

Word-of-mouth marketing

The flywheel takes the workload off of your marketing team and sales team. When satisfied customers become advocates, they effectively engage in word-of-mouth marketing, which is often more trusted and effective than traditional marketing methods. This allows you to efficiently expand your business.

Reduced friction

The flywheel cycle emphasizes the smooth transition of customers from one stage to the next, reducing friction and improving the overall customer experience.

Enhanced team alignment

With the flywheel, each team within the organization understands its role in the customer purchase process, leading to better alignment and collaboration. This alignment can result in a more consistent, high-quality customer experience.

Data-driven decisions

The flywheel is iterative and relies on data from each stage of the buyer's journey to make informed decisions and continuous improvements. This data-driven approach allows for a better understanding of customer behavior and more accurate forecasting, leading to more effective strategies and higher ROI.

Implementing the flywheel model in your business

Well, as a business owner, how do you implement the flywheel cycle? How do you use it to replace the traditional sales funnel? Here are the steps you can follow to get started.

Understand your customer’s journey

The first step is to map out your customer's journey, starting from the point where they first come into contact with your brand, all the way through the process of becoming a customer and beyond. This involves understanding the various touchpoints, interactions, and experiences they have with your brand along the way. Utilize customer feedback, surveys, and data analytics to create a comprehensive view of your customer's journey.

Identify any obstacles or sources of friction

Once you've mapped out the customer journey, the next step is to identify any points where customers experience difficulty, delays, or frustration. These might include issues like a complicated checkout process, difficulty finding information, or a lack of support during the post-purchase stage. Identifying these points of friction allows you to address and resolve these issues, improving the customer experience.

Enhance customer experience

After identifying the sources of friction, it's time to enhance the customer experience. This could involve improving your website's user interface, streamlining the checkout process, enhancing your customer support, or even offering additional value through resources and content. The aim is to not only remove friction but also to go above and beyond in providing value to the customer.

Encourage advocacy

Satisfied customers can be your greatest advocates. Once you've enhanced the customer experience, encourage your customers to share their positive experiences. This could be through incentives for referrals, encouraging online reviews, or simply by building strong relationships and asking for their support.

Measure and improve

Finally, it's crucial to continuously measure your performance and make improvements. Use data analytics to monitor key metrics like customer satisfaction, retention rates, and advocacy rates. Look for trends, areas of success, and areas that need improvement. The goal is to keep the flywheel spinning by continuously optimizing each stage of the process.

Gain momentum and drive success with the flywheel model

The flywheel cycle can help your business thrive and stay ahead of the competition. By following the stages of Acquisition, Engagement, Satisfaction, and Advocacy, you can turn your customers into your biggest advocates, using their influence to maintain your growth. When you begin to think of customer interactions as more than transactions, you will be rewarded with their trust and support. Grow your business with the flywheel cycle.

Want more ways to acquire customers? Mailchimp’s suite of marketing tools can help get your business online, build a following on social media, manage your customer relationships, segment your audience, and more. Try Mailchimp today.

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