Running ads is important, but the best way to grow a small business is to get your customers to do the marketing for you.

According to research from technology giant Salesforce, 92% of consumers trust online content from friends and family above all other forms of brand messages. So if you can get your audience (and your employees) singing your praises, then it’s game on in terms of building momentum from organic growth. Whether you’re familiar with ‘flywheel’ thinking or not, it’s more than likely you will have dealt with a company harnessing the power of this. Simply put, successfully deploying a flywheel strategy in your business can make you unstoppable.

Here’s how a self-perpetuating flywheel effect works for TV streaming giant Netflix:

netflix flywheel

And similarly for Amazon:

Flywheels work by aligning all stages of the customer journey (marketing, sales, delivery, service) to work more closely together and improve the customer experience. By using a flywheel you create happier customers and happy customers are more than happy to talk about the brands they love. Some brand are even able to invoke a strong sense of ‘belonging’ among their tribe of followers (think Harley Davidson), which forms an even stronger connection and potential for organic growth.

Done right, a flywheel has a self-perpetuating effect on business growth and is a great tool for driving your brand advocacy strategy.

Engage, inspire and delight your customers, employees and stakeholders, and they do the marketing for the brand, alleviating the pressure on ad spend and almost always producing higher quality leads and referrals due to the added layer of trust that a personal recommendation brings.

The new way of doing brand

© Marty Neumeier, The Brand Flip

The way a brand used to work, by spotting a gap in the market and creating a product to fill that gap, isn’t the full picture any more. Yes, courage and innovation are still necessary (think Henry Ford), but the order for establishing a brand has changed. Customers hold more power than before. Brands can no longer simply drive products into people’s lives through heavy marketing (sorry). The good news, though, for businesses who are willing to embrace the new brand model, is that the advantages of thinking about brand differently are significant and very impactful. Dedicated followers will happily produce user-generated content, submit ideas, promote products and services to their friends and even become an affiliate. You create advocates when you put the customer first – the customers creates the brand for you.

Don’t suffer alone in the quest to build momentum in your business. Invite your customers and clients to join you on the journey as you start to grow your business the smart way.

Written by Matt Collison, Co-founder and strategy director of Sublime.

Starting out as a freelance designer, Matt has been working with small businesses for 10 years to help them look as good on the outside as they are on the inside. Today he leads the brand strategy work of Sublime, leading small business owners and their teams through a process of discovering their true identity and positioning them for success.

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