The best marketing strategies don't always draw a direct line to their intended results.
Case in point is inkWELL Press, a company that designs beautiful organizational products to help you find peace and harmony through productivity.
In this episode, we talk to Tonya Dalton about how she built a 7-figure business by promoting free digital versions of InkWELL Press' products in order to capture leads and nurture them into sales for her physical products.
- How to turn your passion into a business.
- How and why you should work backwards when working towards a goal.
- How to know what kind of lead magnets to create and how to promote them using Facebook.
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
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Felix: Today, I’m joined by Tonya Dalton from InkwellPress.com, that’s I-N-K-W-E-L-L-P-R-E-S-S.COM, inkWELL Press designs beautiful organizational products to help you find peace and harmony through your productivity. It was started 2014 and based of Asheville, North Carolina. Welcome, Tonya.
Tonya: Thank you so much for having me.
Felix: Excited to have you on. Tell us a little bit more about your store and what are some of the most popular products that you sell.
Tonya: Yeah, definitely. Our flagship product really is our weekly planner. Everything that we design and create is really about our mission which is to empower women through organizational products so everything we design, everything that we create has to answer that calling of that mission statement. We create weekly planners which help people get organized on a daily basis which includes things like goal setting and setting priorities and all of those things. We also offer meal planners, fitness planners, organizational notepads to help you organize everything from your grocery shopping to your daily to do list and a plethora of other items designed to help you feel a little bit more organized and streamlined in your day.
Felix: How did you come up with this mission? Did you have a background in creating planners? How did you decided this was the mission that you wanted to start a business, create products around?
Tonya: That’s a great question. To be honest with you, our journey to becoming inkWELL Press was not one that we started with. I actually started my first business back in 2008, kind of like a little side business almost like a hobby while my husband was traveling the world doing marketing for a bigger company. That business started to grow and by 2010 I was able to allow my husband to quit working in Corporate America and come work with me at my job that I was working then. We were doing wholesale jewelry, just to let you know. In that time, I found that while I really was passionate about working and business, I really wasn’t passionate about the jewelry part of it.
Around, I’d say the fall of 2013 I was feeling like I was losing that spark and that passion and my husband was feeling the same way. We sat down and we talked about what we wanted to do. We sat and we thought and we brainstormed about what were the things I was really passionate about. One of the things I was doing a lot at the time was I was mentoring and coaching women, business owners and helping them figure out ways that they could get organized and get their businesses off the ground. I absolutely love that. I was really passionate about empowering others and I found that a lot of them were struggling with organization and finding products that really help them do the work they needed to do quickly and easily and still be beautiful.
We sat and thought and we figured out that I’m passionate about teaching. I’m a former teacher. I’m passionate about organizing and I’m passionate about empowering others. In taking those three passions we thought about what we could possibly create that would fulfill those passions. We came up with the idea of inkWELL Press. Not only do we design organizational products but education is a very key component for what we do. We don’t just sell you a planner and say, “Okay, see you in a year.” We send you set up videos to help you walk through and figure out how you want to get organized, creating organizational systems for yourself, how to use the planner in the best way that works for you because I truly believe that there’s no one product that fits for everyone.
Everyone plans and organizes in their own way because everyone has their own priorities and their own goals so that aspect of it really excited me. We took those three things, those three passions and we turned it into inkWELL Press. In let’s see, I guess it was the spring of 2014, my husband and I closed our business that we had and we decided, we knew that we’re going to have to buckle up, tighten up our bank accounts a little bit and we were going to really jump in and make inkWELL Press a reality. When we launched later on that year we know at that point where we’re going to have something that was going to really take off or was it going to be one of those things that, “Wow, we took all of our money and time and effort into this and this is our sole income.” Luckily for us it really took off because I think because it is so deeply steep in my passions that we love what we do and it really excites us that we were able to take that idea and just run with it. We’ve been growing ever since.
Felix: That’s an awesome story. I want to stay on this topic of passion because it’s an important I guess milestone or important point that allow entrepreneurs to reach where they ask themselves, “Am I passionate about this?” Ideally, before they start their business but sometimes in the middle of it like you had experienced with your wholesale jewelry business. Talk to us about this moment or this I guess I’m sure it’s not just one moment but how did you realize that you weren’t passionate about what you’re doing before enough at the point where you were thinking about not only pivoting the business but just completely starting a new one? What was that going on in your head when you realized that you weren’t passionate about what you’re already doing?
Tonya: That’s a great question. You’re right, it’s a combination of a lot of epiphanies that you get to where you feel like you’re moving forward and the business is doing well but truly I’m a firm believer that there is a lot more to life than making money. Happiness is a really big factor in the quality of life and I was finding that in our everyday dealings with our business. There were certain things that really did excite us. We really enjoyed interacting with our customers and I really enjoyed the coaching of other business owners. We really enjoyed doing things like designing our catalogs and our coupons and the advertisements we were doing.
I think it was probably several moments in the fall of 2013 where we just would look at each other and say, “Are you really happy with what we’re doing? I know we’re making a living at this. I know that this is working but is it really working to push us to our goal of being really, really happy with our lives.” I have to be honest, at times that can be a really, really dark thing because it’s scary. It is very scary to think about taking something that you feel, I don’t know how to put this but it’s like your safety net, right, I know I have an income coming in.
I know I could pay my mortgage, I know that doing this job allows me do these things but if I’m not happy, is that worth it? Is there more to life? You really have to take away that safety net. I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs who are working still full time jobs and thinking about, “Do I want to follow a passion that I have? Is there more out there? Can I take this hobby and really turn it into a career?” I think making that jump is really scary. Quite honestly my advice on that is if you’re going to go for it, go for it. You live once, give it a try because you won’t regret that you tried.
Felix: This realization that you came across where you just felt like you weren’t going to be happy or you could be happier doing something else. Were you ever worried that you might move on with something else and it just wasn’t successful and you couldn’t find that same success that you found before and you could become less happy because you don’t have that successful business or that success in what you already have previously? Did that thought ever come cross your mind that maybe this could not only just bring me back to I guess a default state but actually make me feel worse than I do currently?
Tonya: Yes, daily. While we’re making this decision, that was the underlying fear. The thought of is this really going to make me happy or am I going to be able to feed my children, right? I mean, my husband and I, this is our sole income. We have two kids. We have mortgage. We got a dog. We got all those things so it’s scary. To say there was worry, I don’t even know if that word encompasses how it feels but to be frank with you, the moment we really made the decision and we pulled the trigger and said, “All right, that’s it. We’re doing it.”
I almost felt like a weight was lifted off of me because I felt like this is what I’m wanting to do. I immediately began to feel much happier. Now, that’s said, we decided that we were going to design planners and design organizational products. We had no graphic design background. I have an English degree. My husband has a journalism degree and an MBA. We had no graphic design experience so there were times where we thought, are we insane that we think we’re going to become graphic designers? We sat down and I don’t know if you’re familiar with lynda.com but the online tutorials, that’s what we did for a month straight.
We sat down and we learned how to use a graphic design programs and everyday we look at each other and said, “Are we crazy?” Some days we said, “Yeah, I think we might be,” but you know what? We’re happier. Truly at the end of the day, that is the measurement of success, if you are happy at the end of your day and you’re doing what you love, that’s all anyone can ever ask for.
Felix: Make sense. I think the listeners out there might not be in the same situation as you were. They have a business and they are looking to transition but I think what might be more common situation is that they have a day job that they already like, they have a lifestyle that they already like and now they are about to jump into something that could basically take away that safety net like you said. Talk to us about the thought process or decision making process that went into that too. What kind of questions did you ask yourself? It’s going to sound like generally you’re just finding out, trying to find out if you would be happy making this transition but were there specific questions, specific things that you looked at to really evaluate if it will be worth it to give up something that you already had that’s already successful to basically go into the unknown?
Tonya: Yeah, it’s a good question. Obviously, I’m a planner person, right? I like to organize. This is not something that we just made the decision on and we just jumped in the next day by any means that did not happen. Really what we did is we sat down and we took a look at things especially like finances, how are we going to make this work? What do we needed to do to bank up money to make sure that for the six months where we knew we weren’t going to have any income while we were getting everything geared up ready to launch. If we were going to be able to survive and whether we’re going to be able to eat and all those little things. That was a big part of it.
To be honest with you, we had started laying the ground work for this, I don’t know, years ago because when my husband and I first got married, we both work, I was a teacher and he was working at advertising agency. We lived off one income. We saved up our money. We already had the mindset of always living off of one income or being able to sprint and save and still live a happy lifestyle without spending a lot of money. When he went to MBA school, we lived off my teacher salary very happily. I feel like we were already kind of primed for that. One of the things that we did is we went down to being a one car family which has its own challenges but we really were able to make it work and we’re able to save money on things like car payments and insurance and things like that.
There were all these different little ways that we were able to bank up and make it possible for us to feel comfortable that we had a little bit of a [nest egg 00:13:15] to be able to live for those six months or so that we knew we absolutely we’re not going to have any income. There was a lot of planning on that front for sure. Then, a lot of it was while we were still, we made the decision that we were going to be closing up our jewelry business and opening up something new. We had a little period of transition where those overlap slightly so that we could go ahead and start working and doing a few things to prepare the new business. It wasn’t just immediate cut off of one day we’re working one business and the following day something else. There was a little bit of overlap and we phased out the first business.
I would say that if you have people who are listeners who currently work at a full time job, start making plans for how you can save up the money so that you can take a couple of months or six months or a year if possible to have an income and to have a little bit of money so you do feel confident that you can survive because I think that’s really an important thing. Then really start laying out, I’m a really big advocate of goal setting. Setting out your goals and then making a little mini goals for yourself almost like little sprints to get you that big goal. Mini goals to help you get to where you want to be. If you’re wanting to quit your full time job and start a business on Shopify, what I’d say is start with that end results in mind and set a date for yourself and work backwards to figure out what things you need to put in place in order to make that happen.
Felix: Make sense. You definitely want to talk a little more about your goal setting process. Before we get there, I wanted to talk about the aspect of saving your money, making sure you have some kind of safety net when you decide to make the jump because it’s not just so much about paying your bills and making sure you still have a house to live in but also it just limits the stress and the worry when you have quit your job so you don’t always worry about how can I make some money, how can I make some money before I run out of money so you can focus more with long term goals or growing the business.
I think that’s an important point, it’s not just about paying the bills but then some mental thing too, knowing that you don’t have to stress so much about it, about how you’re going to feed your family the next day or not. I want to talk about I guess the exercise that you went through to ultimately figure out what your passion about. What was this like? It sounded like you sat down and went through a bunch of maybe not formally but you had some questions that you asked yourself to determine what the passion was and then you decided to create a business and products around it. How did you first decide or what’s the exercise you went through to come up with what it was that you are passionate about?
Tonya: This goes right back into my goal setting. We’re really goal setting focused at inkWELL Press. I set the goal that I wanted to figure out what I was passionate about. I really believed that the first step anytime that you do goal setting is to start with reflection and really thinking about things that have happened in the past even those painful things that are sometimes hard to think about. Sitting and thinking about those things, thinking about the hard things, the good things, the happy things, and the things you really enjoy when you’re moving forward towards a goal. When I was sitting down and I’m lucky that I’m able to work side by side with my husband every day. We work really well together supporting one another.
What we did, we sat down together and we did some serious reflection and when you’re doing serious reflection, it’s not a cakewalk, I’m going to be honest. Some of it is really painful to look at and think about what didn’t go well, what things did we really feel like we failed at and those kinds of things. Then we started thinking about, okay, these are the things we don’t want to do. We start making a list. These are the things that we didn’t like, that didn’t make us happy. What are the things that did make us happy? What are the things that we felt really brought us a lot of joy and happiness? Again, it’s really not all about money. It’s really about your personal satisfaction in completing things or accomplishing things.
What we did is we sat down and we literally made a list. These are the things we don’t like about our current job. These are the things that I really do like. Then we thought about things that were not job related at all, what are the things that we really find a lot of excitement doing as hobbies, what are the things that if I have ten minutes on a Saturday and I can choose to do anything what are those things? In making this list, obviously you’re going to put a really long list, you start crossing things off and going through and prioritizing and you’ll start to see a theme in there. I really think that one of the exercises that we did that worked really well is we both sat down for an hour, each day for a week solid and we both sat down separately and we wrote down just kind of free form thinking.
Thinking about the reflection that we had done and then moving forward and coming up with words and ideas and thoughts about what made us happy. You really start to see a theme when you’re writing things down. That’s the beauty of putting pen to paper is that you start to see these patterns and themes. I was seeing over and over again at this point I hadn’t taught in a classroom for several years but teaching and educating and coaching were words that kept coming up in my writing. I knew that that was an important part of things, of what I wanted to do. Words like I really enjoy organizing, I really enjoy organizing, I really. Enjoyed teaching people how to streamline their businesses. I love operations. I can talk about operations in a business all day long because that really excites me.
Operations that fits under organization so I start to see these ideas that kept coming up again and again and again. We sat down and I really do think it helps to have a sounding board so that you know, whether it’s a friend or a colleague or a coach to sit with you and help you figure out what are these patterns you’re seeing and then you start to take those patterns and putting them together to figure out, okay these are the main things that I’m really feeling passionate about. How can I take these things together and make it into something amazing that’s really going to make me happy on a daily basis. That’s pretty much what we did.
Felix: Yeah, how did you put this all together? I think a lot of listeners out there might have an idea for what they are passionate about yet but then they are stuck in this phase where, “Okay, now I know what I’m passionate about, how do I actually create a business out of it? How do I actually create products? How do I figure out what products I should create or should sell based around my passion?” Tell us about that process. How did you go from identifying these words, five or ten different things that you love, that you’re passionate about into actually creating a business around it?
Tonya: I think what is always a good idea to start with is starting with honestly a brain dump. Just sitting down and writing out, once you decided I want to do an organizational company, what would that look like? I sat down and I wrote out a chart because again I’m a big organizer. I did a chart and the different things that I thought would really help me work and to streamline my life, would make things a lot easier for me. I came up with a whole list and then I started dividing the list up. I had things that were notepads and things that were books, other objects, draw erase boards or all different kinds of things.
I started grouping them. Then you had to look because obviously you can’t start your business making every single project or every single product that you thought of. You start going through and figuring out, “Okay, am I seeing things again looking for patterns.” Then once I had a shorter, long list of products that I thought would be great to offer, then you start working backwards. This again falls into that goal setting that I talked about. I set a goal for myself, here’s the deadline for when I need to get this done and then I back it up and I figure out, okay, here are the four main steps I need to get done in order to reach this goal. Then I set mini deadlines for each of those mini goals. Does that make sense?
Felix: It does.
Tonya: If I want to launch in November and I know I’ve got these four big things that need to be done, I know that the first thing has to be done by February. Then the next one has to be done by March because maybe it’s something I can get done faster. It’s not always that your mini goals or your little mini milestones have the same space between, not always two months apart. Some of your mini goals might take you two weeks. Some of them might take you three months. It depends. You really look at it and figure out what the steps are and then you plug those steps in. To me, the key is writing things down because research shows that if you’re writing down your goals and the things that you really want to accomplish and you’re looking at those on a daily basis, it really pushes you to get these done and you’re really going to be really successful.
Felix: When you say writing things down, are you literally meaning pen and paper or if you would type things out, is that the same thing? You think that there’s actually something to writing it down with your pen and paper?
Tonya: Pen and paper to be honest with you, a lot of brain research has come out as I mentioned I’m a former teacher so I know a lot about brain research. A lot of brain research that has come out recently is showing that the actual act of writing and your hand moving that kinesthetic motion of your hand moving actually helps ingrain that a little bit deeper in the synapses of your brain. It stays with you longer than just writing it down on a tablet. To me, having a dedicated item whether it’s a planner or a journal or whatever it is that is for this one goal really helps you focus because the problem with writing it on your computer or writing it on your phone is that your phone has Facebook on it.
It’s got text coming in from your friends and it’s got photographs, it got all these other things so when you’re on that, you’re not solely focused on that one idea. When you have something that’s dedicated to planning or your goal or whatever it is, every time that you’re in there, your brain is fully engaged in that one priority and that one focus. It really helps you to hone in and get your thoughts a little more succinct when you are using something that is dedicated for that very purpose.
Felix: Make sense. One thing you talked about with your goal setting process is that I really like too that I try to do myself is to work backwards like you’re saying. Break the goals down and figure out what needs to be done to achieve the big goal and then break that down, keeping on breaking it down but then how do you decide, how do you yourself and this is something that I struggle with for a long time was determining when you broken the goals down enough because I think sometimes for me and I think for a lot of other listeners and other entrepreneurs is that we don’t break it down enough and we still at the end of the day we still have some gigantic goal that’s just looming over our heads and it becomes more of a weight than a goal essentially. How do you know when you’ve broken things down enough?
Tonya: The problem with big goals is that they are overwhelming and scary, let’s be honest. When you have something that’s really big, you think, “I don’t even want to start because it’s frightening.” When you take it and you really make it bite size, where you look at it and you think, “I could do that.” It makes it so much more achievable and you’re really going to be able to accomplish it. What I like to do is I like to break your goals down and even really in our planner, we set yearly goals. We have a section for breaking them down quarterly. Each month we have monthly goal setting and then there’s even a daily habit tracker to keep you on track for each day.
I’m a firm believer in breaking it down as far as you really feel comfortable. Some people feel more comfortable with a little bit smaller goals than their big goal. Some people really want it broken down to tiny little bite size pieces. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it. It’s really about what works best for you and what’s really going to help encourage you and push you to keep working each day towards those goals because if the goals are important to you, you have to treat them like a priority. It’s something you work on everyday to get to those goals. You can’t say you don’t have time because it’s a priority.
If this is your goal then it really is needs to be treated as a priority. I really think that if you look at your mini goals so I say a lot of times, four steps is a good amount but sometimes those four steps need to be broken down into four more steps. Then even though this can be broken down further. It’s about comfort level, when you look at those goals, do they scare you? Your big goal should scare you a little bit because your big goal should be big but when you’re breaking it down making it into bite size pieces, those little goals should be something that you think, “Okay, I can do that. I can totally accomplish that.” Because half of it is having the mindset to get started.
Felix: I think ideally what you’re saying is break the goals down and just tackle one piece at a time but I think me definitely included and I think a lot of listeners out there too, we just have this to do list that has an item or two items on there that just hang around forever that we never get to that we always procrastinate on and never have to tackle. What do you suggest for those situations when you have a goal and you broken it down or maybe it’s just one goal that’s small enough that doesn’t need to be broken down that you just never get to, you never get to do, you never get to do it not because you don’t have the time but you just never I guess find your way towards it. What are your thoughts?
Tonya: You come up with excuses to push it to the side, right? Everyone has that. That is not unique to you or to any of the listeners. Everyone has little things that nag them at the back of their head, “You need to work on this.” I really think that if you carve out specific time for accomplishing that, if you say, “Okay, I’m taking 30 minutes everyday and I’m going to hold myself accountable for spending 30 minutes a day working on this,” or 10 minutes or 15 minutes, whatever it is you feel like you could do and you say, I call it, to be honest with you I call it putting myself in jail. Sometimes I have to put myself in jail. If I’m learning a new program and I think, you know what this would be so much easier to do on the old program.
What I do is I say, “No,” I’m going to put myself in jail. I’m going to make myself work on this everyday for the next 15 days or whatever it is and by the end of that time I’m going to feel much more confident. I’ll say, “Okay, I’m going to allot 30 minutes,” and I will write that down in my planner 30 minutes to work on this and I will write it every single day that I’m going to spend 30 minutes doing it. I think if you carve out that time so it’s kind of right there in your face each day it really makes it so you’re like, “Okay, I can give it 10 minutes or 20 minutes,” or however much time you can allot to that goal. Does that make sense?
Felix: It does. I think one thing I’ve heard too I think is similar to what you’re saying is to don’t over commit yourself to it as well. Like you’re saying if it’s 10 minutes, if it’s 5 minutes, the idea is just to get started because if it’s just looming there it becomes bigger and bigger over time that you just never want to even approach it because you think that once you start you have this gigantic thing that would take you weeks to do. If you just commit yourself to smaller, smaller chunks and just get started that’s where the best way to do.
Figure out what’s the best way to just get yourself to get started, I think that’s the biggest aspect of it. This is a similar thing I heard to about people that want to go to the gym don’t think about, “Men, I got to go there and spend hour there. I got to go there and run for like two miles.” Don’t think about like that, just think about, “I got to get to the gym,” and don’t think so much more about this big looming project in front of you, think about, “How do I just get started?”
Tonya: That’s exactly right and in my opinion overwhelm is not having too much to do, it’s not knowing where to start. Sometimes it is really just making that first step that really gets you over that hump and then it becomes so much easier. Speaking of the gym I can give you a great example of how that worked for me. I really wanted to start working out and doing Pilates on a regular basis and I kept pushing it off. It was one of those things on my to do list I kept pushing back, pushing back, pushing back. Finally, I said to my husband, “Listen, I can’t seem to make this appointment to go in to do this training for a Pilates, I need you just to take this from me and I need you by the end of this week to make me the appointment,” and my husband said, “Great. I’ll do it.”
By the end of that week he made me the appointment, I knew if I had an appointment to go in to do this Pilates training that I would go. For some reason getting over that hump of making the appointment I couldn’t seem to get pass it. Once I had the appointment I was good to go and now I’m going to workout several times a week and I’m so much happier. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to push. Push me. Make me do this. Hold me accountable. I really think that accountability partners which is why I think coaching works fabulously. Having someone who’s going to ask you those pointed questions that sometimes feel uncomfortable, “Did you do this this week?
Did you make sure that you got this done?” Those questions if you have to answer no again and again to someone eventually you’re going to say, “I’ve got to tell him yes at some point.” I definitely believe accountability partners or someone to help push you is needed in types of situations like that.
Felix: I think it’s way easier to give yourself slack than to ask someone else to give you slack especially when you feel bad about saying no every single time like you were saying.
Tonya: It’s one thing that disappointment yourself, it’s another thing to disappointment someone else.
Felix: For sure, definitely. One thing you’re saying earlier that what resonated with me was that you set up videos to teach them how to use your products and this is done obviously post sale. Why do you think this aspect is so important? Because I think, before you answer, I think a lot of times store owners think about great customer service as getting new product, getting your customer the product on time. If they have any problems, returns or free, exchanges are free and they’ll deal with all that stuff. You sounds like you’re going to step beyond that and not just making sure to get the product but making sure they know how to use it well. Tell us about this, I guess this realization, how did you know to do this?
Tonya: Okay, first of all I used to be a teacher so educating other people really kind of lights my fire and gets me going. I knew that I really wanted to make sure that when I gave people the tools that I gave them ideas for how they could make this work for them. I knew from the beginning that that was really important to me and I completely agree with you. Good customer service is all of those things. Having a good product, responding to customers on time but there’s a lot to be said for creating a community around your product. Which is one of the things that we have really worked hard to do is to create conversations between us and our customers.
The first step in that is having setup videos for them to watch. The very first set of video they get they receive about a day after their planner ships out to them and to be totally honest with you the first video doesn’t even necessarily show you the planner. We start by talking about figuring out your priorities and doing an assessment of how you feel about your goals and all of those things and then the following week we expand on that. We don’t even start talking about the planner until we get to the third video. It’s really not just about our products, it really is about our mission of empowering other people to feel confident and happy and successful with organization and how much that can really impact their day.
We knew that we wanted to do that right from the very beginning because I felt like that was one of the things that was really lacking. I didn’t see that anyone else was doing this when I started doing that. There were lots of other planner companies out there but they would say, “Here’s your planner. Enjoy using it,” and they got great customer service but they weren’t really giving their customers the tools. Not only do we offer the setup videos which we have six set of videos that come with it. We do free education, everything from getting your inbox to zero to productivity hacks and ideas for how you can streamline your holiday planning or any of those things that kind of fit within the planner but don’t necessarily even use the planner.
It’s really about putting forth that mission that I have of helping others to feel at the end of the day when they’re heading to the pillow I want them to feel happy about what they got done. Instead of thinking about all the things that they didn’t do or the things that went wrong. I’m really trying to help people focus on the good, the good things in their day and all of the things that they really did accomplish.
Felix: Yeah, I think we sometimes think that the more new content, new product we throw in the face of our customers the more value we give them. I think what you’re getting at is that sometimes or not even sometimes but I think a lot of the times the most valuable thing to do is help them get more out of what they’ve already have. The content you already given them, the product that you’ve already given them or they bought from you. Whenever you throw something new at somebody it just adds another thing to their to do list but if you help them tackle their to do list.
Help them tackle the product or use a product that they purchased from you, I think that goes a lot further and it takes away a lot of the guilt too. Especially when someone gets a planner or a product that requires their time or requires their effort and not just like a tshirt or something but something that actually requires effort into it, it’s very important for you to help them get those quick wins which sounds like what you’re trying to get with the kind of post sale video. I’m a big fan of that.
Tonya: Yeah, we’re trying to create a relationship between us and our customers because really we have created some very fiercely loyal customers who when we do come out with new products they’re really excited about them because they know that I’m going to help them use it and I’m going to make sure that they feel confident when they’re using it. I really think that that has made a difference in our return customers because we have customers who buy from us again and again and again just knowing that that’s part of what we do. They believe in me as much as I believe in them which is so amazing.
Felix: Beautiful, yeah.
Felix: One thing that you mentioned in the pre-interview note about effective sales channels. You mentioned two things, one is Facebook advertising and there’s lead magnets. I want to talk about lead magnets first. For the audience that might not know about it, tell us what are lead magnets?
Tonya: Basically, lead magnets are either free downloads or perhaps they’re e-courses or webinars that you offer for free in exchange for getting their information then you can start marketing to them. We do a lot of lead magnets, we do a lot of free downloads. Each month we offer a free download for your phone and for your desktop calendar. We do one of our most successful lead magnets actually was an organizational challenge. We run a four week organizational challenge in May where people could sign up and then we walk through how to organize different areas of their home.
We had a daily email that went out, we had videos that go with it giving them ideas of how to organize and ways to do it. Each activity was designed to take 30 minutes or less. Again, kind of taking into consideration that everybody is busy, everyone has a lot going on and with that lead magnet in particular we were hoping for maybe a couple thousand people to sign up. Our stretch goal was to have 5,000 people sign up and we ended up with 10,000 emails based off that organizational challenge. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work but I don’t do anything halfway.
I wasn’t just going to send emails, I wanted it to be really comprehensive and I wanted to really make a difference for people because that at the end of the day fits my mission. My mission is to help other people and help them feel empowered and organized. The thing about that lead magnet is it was a great program that was free so people really enjoyed it but it really fulfilled my own personal mission statement of what I want the company to do.
Felix: Yeah, 10,000 email is like, I mean you can’t ask for much better than that when it comes to lead magnets. For I think anyone out there that doesn’t manage or doesn’t know about them sure they’re now interested in it. How do you even decide what kind of lead magnet you should create?
Tonya: I think the most important thing with your lead magnet is it has to fit with your niche and your market. Obviously if I create organizational products I don’t want to have a lead magnet that has to do with, I don’t know, dog walking, not that you would that but it has to make sense. It has to be that connection so that when you are collecting these leads these are qualified leads. These are people who are interested in what it is you’re offering. It needs to have some sort of relationship fair. A lot of our lead magnets like that organizational challenge it fits that under that idea of organization. We have free packing list for when you go on vacation. Again, that’s for people who are interested in learning how to be organized.
You really want to make sure that when you’re thinking about a lead magnet you want to create something and if you’ve not done a lead magnet before start with something small. A real easy thing to do is to create a free download or to create a top ten list or something like that that your customers are really going to benefit from. That’s the main thing is you want to create a benefit for those people who sign up so they feel like, “I’m happy giving you my email address because I know I’m going to get something out of this.” Then once you have these people signed up you continue to give them different tips or different ideas or different things that fit again with your mission.
Felix: Okay, do you just create this lead magnet and just wait for people to show up or like do you promote it? Tell us about 10,000 emails doesn’t just come out of nowhere, people have to see the lead magnet. Tell us about how you promote the lead magnet?
Tonya: Really, one of our best vehicles is Facebook advertising which if you know how to do your Facebook advertising right you can really hone it and target on very specific demographics. Really one of the most important things is to honestly know who you’re wanting to sell to, who is your ideal customer. That goes into that whole realm of creating an avatar which I’m sure you probably talked about but knowing who that client is and what are the places they might frequent on Facebook or Instagram and those kinds of things and then creating a compelling ad.
I really think that when you’re doing a Facebook ad a lot of times it’s smart to do a little bit of AB testing. We might try for the first couple of days two different images or two different headlines to see which one is resonating more with our ideal customer base and then we’ll go with that one in moving forward. What we do is Facebook ads are one of our biggest vehicles because we find that people are really willing to sign up as long as you have a good compelling copy, an eye catching headline, a good call to action.
Then if you have a picture that’s going to catch their eye because they are scrolling through and keeping in mind that mobile is the most popular platform when people are on Facebook as you want to look really good on mobile devices. When they’re scrolling through you want your image to be eye catching so they’re actually going to stop and read the copy. It doesn’t matter how great your lead magnet is if you’re not advertising and telling people about it. It’s just like your product, you can have the best product in the world but if no one knows about it you’re not going to be successful. Really marketing and advertising is such an important part of growing your business.
You’re not going to be able to get your business off the ground and really make things work if no one knows about it. What we did with that challenge is not only did we do Facebook advertising but we encourage people on this challenge to find an accountability partner then they were sharing it with other people. We gave them graphics then they could share it on their own social media feeds like tell people that you’re doing the challenge. Get excited about it. You give them tools so they get more excited about it and then they are willing to share and that’s free advertising right there. When they are sending it out to their friends and they’re posting it on social media themselves, you’re not paying for any of that.
It’s all about again you’re creating it so it’s to your customers benefit so they are really excited about sharing it with other people. Really word of mouth is really important and giving them the tools so that they can and that they will share the words with their friends.
Felix: Yeah, I love that you use Facebook advertising not just to drive visitors or drive Facebook users to your site to buy something right away. You’re driving them to get something of value for free because people are much willing obviously to give up their email address and they give up their credit card to buy something. You also really stretch the investment that you put into the Facebook ad right because you’re not just driving somebody to your site for a sale, you’re driving them into your funnels, you’re collecting an email address and now you can continually market to them for a much, much, much, pretty much essentially free compared to running ads, again trying to get them to come to your site again. I’ve heard you’re doing that but I don’t think anyone has ever spoken about doing it in this way before where you have lead magnet like some kind of ebooks or guides. What tends to work well for you?
Tonya: I mean the challenge obviously works really well, we were really happy with that result. We do a lot of free one page downloads. If somebody does one of the downloads like we have a free packing list, we’ll follow up in our sales funnel with giving them, “Hey, by the way we also have a free packing list that’s for beach vacation.” Then we kind of extended it so that there’s more than just one packing list. We’re continuing to add value through our emails and creating, again it’s all about creating relationship with your customers. At the end of the day what’s most important to me is that I am helping people and that even if they don’t but my planners to be totally honest with you, it really is about effecting change for other people. I get a lot of benefit out of that personally because that kind of what fills my heart personally.
Felix: That’s great. With Facebook ads there’s so many different I guess leverage you can pull right hand side ads, news feed ads, Instagram now through Facebook ads. Do you find one of these platforms or one of these setups works the best for lead magnets? Do you like sticking with one I guess ad format versus the other?
Tonya: Yeah, for the most part we find the sidebar ads on Facebook don’t work nearly as well. They don’t get the attention and we’ve done a lot of research. As I mentioned, my husband, my business partner, he has his MBA with the marketing specialization so we know a lot about marketing.
Tonya: Probably more than most small businesses. We find that the advertisements that we put in the news feed are by far the most beneficial because people are already looking there. They’re not really looking at the sidebar, they’re looking at the news feed. You really have to make sure when you’re designing your ads and your copy and your headline that it fits that idea of it fitting in the news feed. It doesn’t seem too salesey or it doesn’t seem clunky or strange if people find this in between two post from their friends. That’s definitely important to keep in mind. Instagram is becoming easier to advertise on especially now that you can choose to do a business profile and all that.
To be honest with you from the research that we have done ourselves and looked up, we don’t see that at this point Instagram is not quite there with their algorithms and their insights. We really think that Facebook is working much better at this point. Now, that could easily change because I do know that Instagram is a much bigger, more market that’s growing at a more rapid pace. People on Instagram are not as primed to purchase or to give their email address the way that they are on Facebook for some reason. That’s just my personal experience but other people may have other experiences but we’ve done a lot of research into it to see where we should really spend our marketing dollars.
Felix: Makes sense. The call to action and there’s different I guess options for the button that appears with your ad like learn more, sign up. Do you find that one specific call to action works better than the other?
Tonya: Yeah, I think it’s really depends on what it is. A lot of times we say like for the challenge we’ll say something like, “Sign up here,” or, “Get your free download,” we’re giving a download. If your button says, “Get your free download here,” nothing resonates more than free, right? That definitely works. What we do is we have a call to action to get them to go to a landing page that has more information because you’re limited on how much you can really put on Facebook. On Facebook they’re going to click and instead of bringing them straight away to signing up for their email address, we send them to a landing page that’s going to have more information.
Many times it has a video, maybe a welcome message from me giving them a little bit of overview if it’s something like the challenge or it may show like a screenshot of what the download looks like. Again, that’s all part of creating that relationship so then once they get to that landing page and they feel a little more comfortable then they’re more willing to sign up for your freebies.
Felix: Awesome. Once you have their information and their email, I think you spoke on this a little bit but tell us a little more about what kind of emails you’re sending to them once they’ve joined your email list?
Tonya: We have a series of emails that we send out. It kind of depends on which lead magnet that they have signed up for obviously. Like I said with the free packing list, the next email might have the beach vacation packing list and then I might have information about packing tips in the next email because I know these people are interested in travel. We kind of lead them through a series of emails where either they’re getting a freebie or they’re finding some sort of benefit from us. Either I’m giving them like a little two minute tip or I’m giving them ideas on how they can use these different items that they’ve download.
Again, I’m always adding value and creating a relationship like what I’ve said because I want them to feel like, “Okay, every time I get an email from this company I want to open up the email.” We have a really high click rate, really high for our industry because when we send out emails we always make sure it is to our customers benefit. We’re not just sending out emails just to send on emails. I don’t like it when it read all the time that company say, “Oh, you should be sending out three emails a week,” no, I don’t do that personally. Again, that fits that mission of mine that I don’t want to overwhelm people with more stuff. I’m trying to help them streamline their lives. When I send out an email it’s usually some benefit for the customer. Either it’s about a promotion or it’s a freebie or it’s some sort of download or something to that effect.
Felix: Yeah, I think this idea of making sure that you’re benefiting the subscribers is so important because a lot of times people will try to find ways like, “What’s the best way to structure your subject line?” like, “What’s the best way to write copy, your email to get through to open it and take action?” People decide to open up your emails way before then, it’s about all the others email you sent them in the past too because once you start conditioning them and to thinking that, “Every time I get an email inkWELL it’s always going to be an awesome action or a valuable email. I’m going to continue to open them,” it doesn’t matter what the subject line says after that. I think getting them into the habit of looking out, looking for your emails and being delighted when they see it is the key and that starts way before the subject line or the copy, It starts from the very beginning, the very first emails you send them.
Tonya: I think that’s absolutely right because again it’s all about really creating that relationship and if I’m going to be a good friend to them then I’m not going to send them a bunch of junk. I’m really going to take advantage of the time that they have.
Felix: For sure. Can you give us an idea of how successful the business is today?
Tonya: Yeah, I’d be happy to. We launched in November of 2014, we moved over Shopify because we needed more bandwidth in July of last year. In the past since we’ve been on Shopify we have made well over seven figures for our sales revenue.
Tonya: We’re really, really pleased with how that’s going and how our customers continue to spread the word about us so we’re really, really lucky.
Felix: Yeah, beautiful. Maybe you can close on this, I think one of things you mentioned that you do is that you speak at events with two entrepreneurs about creating systems and organizing their business for success. If you could maybe pinpoint one area that entrepreneurs should focus on to or maybe every entrepreneur should at least look towards to focus on, to organize or create systems. What would be that for you? What would you look first if you’re working with an entrepreneur and wanted to dissect where they should spend their time to improve I guess the efficiency and productivity of their business?
Tonya: I’m a really big fan of automations. I talk about automations quite frankly for personal life and for work life because I think automating things is really an important part of making your life easier. By automations I mean looking at your task that you do each week or each day even or each month and then setting on your planner or your calendar that, “You know what I’m going to do this one task on this day.” I know that I do inventory on the third Thursday of every month. I don’t have to think about it, I don’t have to stress about it, I know it’s going to get done on the third Thursday of the month. My employees know it gets done on third Thursday of the month.
Every Friday is financial Friday. Every Friday we sit down, we go through our finances, that’s the day that we really go deep in focusing on what needs to be done financially for our business. Mondays we have marketing Monday and that’s when we sit down and we work on creating our marketing plans or if we have like a big marketing plan, we have a marketing meeting on Monday. Each day for me kind of has a theme and different task that you do on recurring basis I just automate and plug in automatically. I’m a really big advocate for taking the thinking out of it and I talk about this in the setup videos, I talk about it when I speak to entrepreneurs. Really the more that you have to think about a task the more time it takes you.
If you can automate and streamline it so you’re not having to think about, “Oh my gosh when is the last time I went into QuickBooks,” or, “Oh gosh I haven’t done that in two weeks.” It’s the same thing for at home, “Oh I haven’t done the laundry in three weeks,” I do the laundry on Tuesdays. Everyone in my family knows on Tuesday everyone brings down their laundry, the kids know how to sort their laundry because I’ve automated them on that. Systems can run a lot smoother and that will really help free up your time. It really is about banking up and finding these little tiny pockets of time that you can squirrel away because five minutes here, five minutes there eventually becomes an hour.
You know what you can spend that hour doing? Tackling that task that you’ve been putting off because you’ve been overwhelmed by it. Yeah, I’m a really, really big believer in automating and taking as much of thinking out of it so that you can just get your work done.
Felix: I love it. Awesome. Thank you so much, Tonya. InkwellPress.com again is the website. Anywhere else you recommend a list to checkout if they want to follow along with what you’re up to?
Tonya: Yeah, we’re on Instagram, our username is InkWellPress there and also on Facebook we’re really active. I do offer Periscopes where I do different training, sometimes I do business training, sometimes it’s just organizational training and productivity and things like that. I actually am right now working on creating a podcast myself.
Tonya: We’ll be focusing on multitasking and how that doesn’t work and productivity and things like that. I’ll be coming out with that hopefully in the next couple of months. I set a big goal for myself and I’m working backwards to get it done.
Felix: Very cool. Yeah, if they sign up for email list will they get all that information about the podcast and anything else you come out with?
Tonya: Absolute, yes.
Felix: Okay, cool. That’s on the site we’ll link all that up in the show notes. Again, thank you so much for your time, Tonya.
Tonya: Thank you for having me. This is great. I really appreciate it and I’m just excited to be able to help inspire some of the other Shopify users and other entrepreneurs. Thank you so much for having me.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today visit Shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial.
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