Why Physical Goods are the New Services with inkWELL Press founder Tonya Dalton

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How a physical product helps service providers create a more sustainable model
  • How Tonya tackles product development from idea to launch
  • How using your mission to guide decision-making keeps your focus

This week, on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast I chat with Tonya Dalton, founder of inkWELL Press who has made it her mission to “help women find peace through productivity.” As a former teacher, Tonya knew right from the beginning that education was going to be a big part of what she was going to offer in her business. She said the biggest compliment inkWELL Press can receive is when people tell them that they’re actually a service-based company that just happens to sell a fabulous product—journals and planners of all kinds.

Products Extend your Reach

Products are physical manifestations of services.

—Tonya Dalton

As Tonya shared organization and productivity strategies with those she coached, she wanted those people to have the right tools available so they could implement the strategies she taught. A physical planner had helped her stay organized and productive, so she set out to design her very own for her clients. The products themselves have become brand ambassadors of sorts, since a lot of their business is from referrals. Not only are people talking about inkWELL Press’s planners, they also talk to their colleagues and families about the systems and how they are being more productive.

“Having a product helps you reach people without you being in front of them. I’m still able to generate revenue, put forth my mission without me having to do every single bit of it,” said Tonya.

Products help service-oriented and digital businesses reach corners of the marketing world that they may have not been able to reach otherwise.

Product Development Process: Idea to Launch

When you’re creating your timeline, you need to account for things that you don’t really know.

—Tonya Dalton

The first product Tonya brought to market was the weekly planner; what she considers to be their cornerstone product. She starts off with a brainstorm and thinks about all the elements that should be included. Then, she goes into a thorough questioning process, asking friends, family and even strangers to see if the new concept resonates with them. This is an important part of the process, and one that’s sometimes skipped by those who are too excited by their own amazing idea, they fail to check to make sure others also believe it is amazing. From there, it goes into design, finding the right materials and vendors to help make her vision a reality. And lots of back and forth with samples and tweaking before going into full production mode. Equally important is to simultaneously build the buzz around your product. It’s not enough to just have a beautiful product. If you don’t have a marketing strategy in place, your beautiful product won’t get in the hands of your ideal customers.

We put a lot of time and energy not into just creating the product itself but actually creating the buzz and excitement around it.

—Tonya Dalton

Use Your Mission to Guide Your Decision Making

Although the way she achieves her mission may have altered slightly—she focuses first on productivity and then organization naturally follows—at its heart, her business has really stayed true to the mission she set forth initially. Her mission is the ultimate litmus test to determine her focus, what products she develops next and how her business strategies shift.  

Get all the detail of our conversation including how Tonya and her husband skimped and saved to launch their business, asked lots of questions and invested in training for the things they didn’t know how to do, how her podcast, The Productivity Podcast is a natural extension of her teaching and what’s on the horizon for the business by checking out the full episode.

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