EP 173: Investing In Physical Products With Inkwell Press Founder Tonya Dalton

Jan 3, 2019 | Business Models, Podcast, Product Development

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

A few weeks ago, Derek Halpern—who has made millions of dollars selling online courses—announced that he was quitting information marketing.

He said he was burnt out. He’d lost track of why he was in the business in the first place. His information marketing business didn’t light him up.

He announced a sort of digital fire sale of all his courses, one final time, and then took them off the market.

Over the last 3 episodes, I’ve been running down what I see as the top trends shaping small business in 2019 based on the interviews I’ve done over the last few years. Because of my behind-the-scenes view here at What Works (and yours, too!), I often get to see trends happening before they tip into the mainstream.

Today’s trend is no exception.

I can relate to Derek and the circumstances that prompted his decision.

Two years ago, I was burnt out on advice culture and information marketing, too.

I felt pressured to be constantly turning my personal experience into something useful for thousands of people.

And? It just wasn’t. I didn’t have all the right answers for everyone who was following along. I didn’t have brilliant life lessons to share every day. I wasn’t an expert on all the things people wanted me to be.

I believe that information marketing, advice culture, and the expert brand ecosystem is going through a reckoning. Not only are people like Derek and I burnt out on it. Consumers are overwhelmed by it.

Consumers are becoming more interested in trusting themselves instead of some stranger they found on the internet.

Now, maybe all this sounds like a pretty bleak prediction for the future of information marketing.

After all, already two of the trends I’ve highlighted for 2019—focusing on real relationships and reapproaching high-touch services–are in direct opposition to the way information marketing has been executed for years.

But I don’t think that’s the case.

Information marketing is not dying.

Instead, there is a growing list of options for business owners who want to run lean and mean, make a great profit, and prioritize flexibility. But they look a lot like how small business was done before information marketing!

The option I took was to create value by making it easier for small business owners to talk with each other, by facilitating those conversations, and by creating tools for shared experiences.

The option Derek took was to harness his marketing prowess into a wellness company with a mission that lights him up.

But a big trend I have been seeing bubble up is creating physical products—tools—for self-exploration and learning.

I believe 2019 is the year we’ll see this hit the big time.

Now, those tools for learning and self-exploration aren’t always literal tools. Sometimes they’re the perfect pieces for a capsule wardrobe—like Jay Adams and Katie Doyle created with Brass Clothing. Other times they’re the perfect greeting card or gift when nothing conventional would fit—like Emily McDowell created with Emily McDowell Studio. Or, they could be sports bras designed specifically for women who enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle—like Bridget Kilgallon and her co-founders did with Aret Basewear.

You can find all of those interviews in our archives—but my choice for today’s interview is a little more literal.

Tonya Dalton started Inkwell Press to equip creative people with the tools they need to become more productive and achieve their goals. She combines physical products with learning resources to create a fully immersive experience that’s designed to enhance results.

In this conversation, we talk about how services and information are translated into physical goods, as well as how her brand has evolved as her product line has evolved. We also chat about how she uses content marketing—her podcast, called Productivity Paradox—to spread the word about her products.

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