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

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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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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support