We’re less than 5 months away from 2020. My bet is that when you read that you’re head goes to one of two places:

1) Wow, I’ve accomplished a lot in the last seven months!

2) Oh shit… I haven’t done nearly as much as I’ve wanted to do in the last seven months!

Regardless of your answer, whether it’s the first option, the second option, or you had to come up with your own third option, you’re probably thinking about how well you’ve prepared for what’s ahead. 

This ultimately leads me to what I want to talk about in this article; how you can give yourself a foundation for success in 2020 by understanding one key principle. 

To do this, I’m going to take a step back and walk you through how I’ve come to this conclusion in my own journey as a business owner, so bare with me:

Even though I feel like I’m just beginning my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve actually been a business owner for about 10 years, which is kind of crazy for me to think about.

For those of you that have been following my content for a little while, you’ll know that I started with a clothing company called True Rivalry. You’ll probably also know that the beginning of True Rivalry was ROUGH. It was my first time really trying to start something and “go all in”… and it sucked:

I was losing money because I had to print a minimum of 50 shirts even if a customer just ordered one, which also left me with loads of extra inventory, I was getting “no” after “no” by retailers and shop owners that I wanted to have sell my shirts, and I felt like the overall support that I was receiving from the people around me was starting to dissipate.

Being in that position really tested my patience and played with my mindset.

The irony now is that even though I hated where I was at the time, I’m so happy that I went through it:

I learned what it’s like to struggle, not have any customers or clients, and get “no” after “no” after “no”. Again, and I can’t say this enough, it sucked.

On the other hand, I also learned what it’s like to thrive and feel like you’re on top of the world; getting tons of yeses and having the main issue be to fulfill the sheer volume of orders that were coming in.

Looking back at it, there was one key principle that I learned that dramatically shifted the trajectory of my business. One “thing” that took me from losing tons of money to actually starting to make money and create a sustainable income:

That “thing” or that principle was understanding that the marketing cycle precedes the sales cycle.

When I started, I was putting designs on t-shirts and assuming that people would kind of stumble across them, like the designs, and then buy the shirts… I was terribly wrong.

Let me break things down:

Hoping that someone will magically find your product/service on the internet where millions of people are posting similar products/services is already a big assumption to make, right? Then hoping that that person will be interested or curious enough to look into your product/service and go to your website to learn about it is an even bigger assumption to make, right? Let’s be real, how often do you see a random photo, link to a website, or ad, and then actually go and check it out? Probably not that frequently… Then, hoping that BOTH of those things happen and that this person will actually continue to buy your product/service it is one of the WORST assumptions that you can make. It’s hubris!

This is just as silly as when someone publishes a website for their company and just assumes that people will randomly find it, care enough to check it out, and then actually continue to purchase something from it. It may have worked in 2003, but that’s not how the world operates anymore. 

With that in mind, if this is how your business operates, you better buckle down because 2020 is just around the corner and it’s not going to treat you well unless you make some drastic changes.

This is why I said that the marketing cycle precedes the sales cycle.

Before you can sell anyone your product or service, they have to know who you are, understand your product or service, and more than anything else, you have to have their attention. Frankly, if you’re focused on ANYTHING other than attention, you are fundamentally setting your business up for failure in the long term.

Attention is the key metric. We live in an attention-centric society and economy.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube are only valuable if they’re able to grab and hold your attention. That’s why people say that social media is “addictive” – it’s literally because these companies hire psychologists, neuroscientists, and user-interface experts to figure out how they can keep you on their platform for as long as possible. Once they have your attention, they monetize it by selling it to companies through their advertising platforms.

So, if you want to compete with other brands that are leveraging these platforms, you have to play the attention game.

There is no alternative.

Look, I could go on for hours about all of the different marketing strategies that your company should undergo in order to do well today and in 2020… there’s organic content on social media, email marketing, influencer marketing, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and a hundred other options…

The tricky part is that in order to break through the noise, each one is going to require a strategy that is unique to you and your business.

So, to do this, you’re either going to have to hire an agency, a marketing consultant, or you can learn it yourself.

Take it from an agency owner, hiring an agency or a consultant can be expensive and often times unreliable. However, if you decide that this is the path you want to take, I’d recommend reading my article “Why You Should NOT Hire a Social Media Agency” beforehand – it’ll help give you some guidance on what to look for and what questions to ask throughout the vetting process.

On the other hand, learning everything yourself can take tens to hundreds of hours and a lot of trial and error. All of which is time that you’re spending not working on your product/service. However, if this is the route you decide to take, I’d recommend listening to individuals like Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone, Ezra Firestone, and Ryan Deiss. Make sure that you don’t get too caught up in consuming content though because 90% of your learning will come from executing.

And, if I can do anything for you, send me an email, jason@jportmedia.com.