Lindsay Bryan-PodvinHow a financial therapist from Michigan used email to grow her business by going against the grain of typical advice. This is Lindsay Bryan-Podvin’s story about Pushing Send.
Lindsay Bryan-Podvin is a therapist, author, podcast host and speaker whose work has been featured in Millie, Allure, Fast Company, HuffPost and Time. As the first financial therapist in Michigan, she talks about money in a way that doesn’t make you feel gross.
Key Points From This Episode:
- As a therapist, email has worked well for Lindsay because her audience has a chance to really get to know her before they decide to work with her.
- Being a financial therapist is a very specific niche that forced Lindsay to get online, get social and start her email list. After an Instagram algorithm changed, she quickly realized that her email list was the way to go because she owned that list.
- Lindsay realized just how powerful her email list was after doing a 7-day email challenge and finding a surprising connection.
- She sought advice and was getting tips from gurus and found that she started sounding less and less, more like herself and my emails started looking more and more like everybody else’s.
- Lindsay determined that the challenge is how to walk that line of getting help for your email so that you can actually come through as yourself. It has been incredibly liberating for her to do this and very fruitful.
“To me, bro-marketing is imagining that there is a one-size-fits-all and if it’s not working for you, then you’re the problem.” – @mindmnybalance
At the start of my email list and then right now, that had been my 100% authentic voice. But in the middle point, when I was getting tips from gurus, I started sounding less and less, more like myself and my emails started looking more and more like everybody else’s.” – @mindmnybalance
“The challenge is how to walk that line of getting help for your email so that you can actually come through as yourself.” – @mindmnybalance
“I realized that the more I sounded like other people, the less I sounded like myself, the more my email lists responded and they responded negatively by unsubscribing and not opening my emails.” – @mindmnybalance
“The liberation and freedom of fully showing up as myself has been a gift and that is when people respond.” – @mindmnybalance
“When you liberate yourself from this idea, that email has to be one way or business has to be one way or a website has to look one way you actually call in people who want your product or service more because they are also aligning with you.” – @mindmnybalance
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Lindsay Bryan-Podvin: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
- Bryan Kelly: LinkedIn
- Mind Money Balance
- Mind Money Balance Podcast
In my mind, bro-marketing is anything that relies on anything that is too much cut and paste and is very reliant on formulaic advice. Things like if you do X, then Y will happen. And if you don’t have that result, then it’s your fault because you didn’t hustle hard enough, you didn’t work hard enough, you didn’t grind hard enough, you didn’t cold message people enough. You didn’t push on people’s pain points and fear. And that just doesn’t work for therapists. There is a line of, yes, you want to call in your ideal clients by saying, Hey, I hear you. This is where you’re struggling. Here’s how I’m uniquely qualified to help you. That to me is bro-marketing is imagining that there is a one size fits all. And if it’s not working for you, then you’re the problem
From rasa.io, the tool for sending smarter and better email newsletters. This is Pushing Send, a show, featuring people who send emails, their subscribers actually want to read. I’m Bryan Kelly and on today’s show how a financial therapist from Michigan used email to grow her business by going against the grain of typical advice. Here’s Lindsay Bryan-Podvin telling me how she got into email. You’re a licensed professional with a focus on personal financial management. So how did you end up using email to grow your business?
Gosh, that is, is an interesting and nuanced question. So I’m a therapist and we are not trained on marketing, using email website SEO, social media, none of that, right? That, that just doesn’t come up. So to ask how important is email for your business is a question that I honestly haven’t even answered. And until you are asking it now, but obviously it’s important for me because it has, it is something that I do at least twice a week, is I send out an email to my folks. I would say it is important because as a therapist, one of the biggest things about helping a potential client work with you is to understand who you are. And to me, for potential therapy clients, they have to think about it for a while. These are not folks who are like, Oh, I’m going to buy a pair of shoes. Am I going to buy a pair of red shoes or green shoes? Right? These are folks who are going to be putting their emotional lives in your lap and you’re going to be holding space for them. So they also have to get to know you. So for me, sometimes I think I’m emailing into the void. And then when I get a barrage of messages back saying, thank you for seeing me, Oh my gosh, I’ve experienced the same thing. Oh my gosh, thank you for normalizing it. It reminds me that I’m not just speaking into the void and the way that it can often feel like on social media or on my website. It’s, it’s much more of a two-way street than I’d anticipated going into it.
Where did you first learn that you should have an email list and even the tactics for growing one?
I love to consume content. So for folks who don’t know me, I’m a financial therapist. I started in the world of social media in November of 2018. Prior to that, I didn’t have a Facebook account. I didn’t have an Instagram account. I didn’t know how important having an online presence was and the reason that I moved towards having an online presence was that as a financial therapist, which is a very niche thing, I quickly realized that I couldn’t just have a brick and mortar in the way that a lot of my therapy colleagues could. I realized really quickly I needed to be able to reach other folks outside of my area because my, my specialty was so nuanced. So I knew I had to get online. So as I figured out, getting online, I did, I think what many new entrepreneurs do. And I just turned to podcasts, mostly, mostly podcasts. And I kept hearing this stuff about email lists, email lists, email lists, conversion rates, open rates, click through rates, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But really the main message that I got that stuck out to me being so important and resonated with me most being a financial therapist is, yeah, you can have a great social media presence. You can be all these places, but at the end of the day, you don’t own that particular list. And I know that sounds really weird, but your, your listeners will get what I mean. Case in point, I have a decent Instagram following around 5,000 and I have pretty good engagement. I would have about a 20 to 25% engagement rate on my posts, which is honestly unheard of in the world of Instagram to toot my own horn. It’s usually around like three to 5%. And then around the time of the U S election, they changed the algorithm to prevent fraudulent information from going wrong, which I’m a huge proponent of. I was really thankful for that. And at the same time, it impacted my numbers massively, massively. I mean, it went from my reach, went from around like 1500 down to like 200- 500. So that was the, the real life example of what it meant to have an email list and do have direct contacts with the folks who want to follow along with you. But yeah, I think that was a rambling way to answer your question.
No, that was great. You know, I wonder through that experience, did you experience a moment where you were like, wow, email is incredibly powerful?
Yeah. It was like, I had done a challenge on my email list. So if you were already on it, you were automatically opted in, but you could choose to opt in. It was a seven day challenge, about two or three months into the pandemic. My clinical focus is mostly on couples and it was a, a how to reconnect to your partner during a pandemic challenge. And each day you just got like a little exercise that would last like 5-10 minutes just as a way to reconnect to your partner. And, you know, I sent it out, whatever, didn’t think much about it. And I’m like day three or four, like a neighbor replied to me. And they were like, Oh my gosh, we have been loving your email challenge. And I was like, wait, what? I literally didn’t even know you were on my email list. I mentioned that I thought I was speaking into the void. So to know that my words were meaningful and helping somebody and as a direct way to connect to somebody who was like down the road for me, just reiterated how important email is. Yes, of course I have people on my list from different countries, but it’s also incredibly intimate that I could have somebody a few blocks away saying, Hey Lindsay, I’m on your email list. I love the challenge. That to me was the reminder that it isn’t random robots on your list. It’s real people on the other end of that message getting it. And I also love when people reply to my emails and they say things like, Oh my gosh, that really meant a lot. Or I really appreciate perspective on that. Or I forwarded your email to a friend. Those are the reminders that there are real people there that it isn’t just a heart or a double tap. That’s there, it’s somebody else really reading and engaging with it.
You know, I appreciate that as someone who’s actually a subscriber to your list because you clearly put a lot of genuine sincere effort into what you’re publishing. With all that said, though, what challenges or frustrations have you faced?
Well, what’s interesting is that the more I followed a template, the worse my email, open rates and engagement, where I did what a lot of people do. I tried to DIY it and then I hired a coach or I joined a program to help me out. And then I followed that template. And then I realized I wasn’t writing in my voice anymore. I was writing in a version of a voice that I thought I should be showing up as. So when I started to pivot away, what I think is really interesting about my email list, as I’m saying this out loud now is at the start of my email list and then right now, that had been my 100% authentic voice. But in the middle point, when I was getting tips from gurus, I started sounding less and less, more like myself and my emails started looking more and more like everybody else’s. So the challenge is how to walk that line of getting help for your email so that you can actually come through as yourself. Because I do think it’s helpful to have, have an expert help you out and have their eyes on your work and helps point out, Hey, yeah, that’s a great email, but what is your call to action? Right? Like I might have a beautiful email and then totally forget to be like, Oh, by the way, there’s a blog post associated with it. Or by the way, did you know you can work with me? So for me, it’s gaining that information and implementing important information while making sure that you’re stripping away the noise of how somebody else thinks you should be writing.
When we come back, Lindsay explains the moment she decided to stop following the advice of so-called bro-marketers, and completely changed gears with her email marketing newsletter. I’m Bryan Kelly, and you’re listening to Pushing Send from rasa.io.
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Welcome back to Pushing Send. I’m Bryan Kelly. Lindsay Bryan-Podvin deserves a ton of credit for recognizing that what she learned about email marketing from others, just wasn’t a great fit for her business and even her personal and professional brand. So she decided to plant a flag in the ground and announced she was doing something different. Here’s Lindsay sharing the background story. I wanted to interview you because of a specific email you sent in late summer, 2020, the subject line was this bro-marketing doesn’t work for therapists. Well, what happened before you made this public declaration? When did you realize something was up?
Having gone through the experience that I went through of spending a lot of money with a coaching program and kind of buying into these courses that kind of promised this elusive immediate 3-10% return on investment. When you get X number of people on your email list, I had totally drank the Kool-Aid and I was into it, and I was doing all the things. And then based on your last question, when did I realize like something was up was when I realized that the more I sounded like other people, the less I sounded like myself, the more my email lists responded and they responded negatively by unsubscribing and not opening my emails. And then I had this aha moment that I am not alone as a therapist who is in the online space because I had to be because of the nature of my work. I knew that there were other colleagues of mine, other therapists of mine who were also turning to these coaches who did not understand the nuance and the importance of being incredibly authentic as a therapist and how we can’t expect our clients to just fall into some mold and just automatically do all these things that, that all these bro-marketers are pushing. And so I wanted to push back on that and say, Look, if you’re a therapist and you are doing what I did, and you’re listening to the podcast and you’re buying the programs and you’re hiring the coaches and the needle, isn’t moving, like that’s not your fault. And it’s because our clients are, they’ve got their antennas way up for something that is skeezy or slimy, and they’re not going to play along. So if you try to emulate that and replicate that in your email list, they’re going to know. So I wanted to both point out how wrong bro-marketing is for our field and also normalize that it makes sense for therapists to try and go that route, because those are the loudest voices in the online space.
How freeing was that for you? Like what were you feeling when you made this discovery and went against the grain?
It was pure liberation. And I wouldn’t say it was immediate at first I was beating myself up so much, right? I’m a financial therapist. My job is to make wise and aligned financial decisions. I felt so bad and I beat myself up so much for spending money on these programs and on these coaches that were basically pedaling that cut and paste model. So it wasn’t immediate liberation, but once I got through that initial shame and I will say it still rears its head, it’s not purely gone. The liberation and freedom of fully showing up as myself has been a gift and that is when people respond. And I, and I don’t say this to scare people into false vulnerability. I also hate like those posts or those emails that are like, this is the most vulnerable thing I ever shared. And then it’s like, I slept through my alarm. I”m like, oh gosh, please. You know, but it gives you permission to show up as humans. And I think at the end of the day, we buy from somebody, we sign up to work with somebody. We want a product that a person is selling because yes, of course that product or service will help us. But also because we believe in or agree with, or look up to the person on the other side of that product. Y1ou know, right now the founder ofZappos unfortunately passed away recently. And what we are seeing right now is an outpouring of gosh, what an amazing boss he was to work with and what a true leader he was and how generous he was and how kind he was and how he did things differently, right? After a two week period of working at Zappos, if you wanted out, you were welcome to leave and you were welcomed to get a check, right? Because he said, look, you can work here and continue getting a paycheck, or I will literally pay you to leave because I don’t want people here who don’t want to be here. That is not standard business practice, but because he showed up authentically in a way that felt best for him, his employees also responded accordingly. So I say all that to say that when you liberate yourself from this idea, that email has to be one way or business has to be one way or a website has to look one way you actually call in people who want your product or service more because they are also aligning with you. I think the problem with bro-marketing is you’re like, Oh, just talk about your pain points and like, don’t show your face. Whereas I’m like, no, no, no, you want to be human. We connect with humans. We don’t connect with things.
Well said. So I’m curious about the impact this decision has made.
It’s been both and impact on the way that I show up in my work and it’s been an impact on the financial bottom line. People can sniff out gross, cheesy, cut, and paste from a mile away. And they’re not going to hire you or want to work with you when you do that. So of course my business grew the more and more I became just who I am not became who I am, but showed up how I am in my email as well. It was two-fold. I felt better about showing up authentically and my business also responded accordingly.
That’s something a lot of people need to hear. So now that you’ve adjusted your strategy, what does your planning process and workflow look like for publishing those emails?
That’s a really good question. I am a planner by default. I would love to have my emails written out for a year, but the problem is that then they don’t sound authentic. Right? If I’m writing an email right now, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic, that is slated to go out six months from now, it’s just not going to resonate because the world changes so quickly. I’m not saying that you can’t take an old email and repurpose it and get that message across in the same way you absolutely can, but I am more off the cuff than I wish I could be. What I will do is I write emails at least every Monday and most likely every Monday and Thursday. And the reason for those dates is those are the dates that my podcast comes out. So I always want to say a little something about the podcast and what I will do is like throughout the week, if I have something happen, uh, a little life lesson, a little story, I saw a little something across the street. I see unfold. And I’m like, God, that’s really interesting. I put a note in my phone and it might be something like, like right now, I’m in the midst of baking 20 loaves of sourdough bread for holiday gifts. That’s what I decided to do. So I guarantee you in the next month or two, you’re going to see an email about sourdough bread. Why? Because that’s, what’s on my mind. So I guess I would say I have a loose idea of what I want to say, and it’s more off the cuff. And even if I write it on, like, let’s say I write it on a Wednesday and I know I’m sending it out on Monday, I actually don’t schedule it. I just save it in my drafts. And then I reread it on that Monday morning and tweak it if something no longer makes sense. And that’s a way that you can kind of batch an advance and then tweak. So you can maybe write out a handful of emails for the month. And then the morning of you’re getting ready to send, just scan it and make sure it still feels like something you would want to send that day.
Yeah, that’s something I’ve enjoyed. Every time you’ve sent an email, it feels of the moment. Now through these changes, you’ve discovered a way to help other therapists with the same struggles. How has that been going?
It’s been wonderful. And that was a result of de-bro-marketing my business. So what had happened was, as I mentioned, I kind of realized that I had fallen into this trap. And then what happened was I got a bunch of emails and DM’s from other therapists who saw my therapy practice growing. And they were saying things like, can I pick your brain about how you show up on social media or about how you wrote the words on your website or about how you got clients? And I was like, no, no, that’s not what I do. I’m a therapist. I’m not coach, right? Because I’d been burned so badly. And then over time I realized like, actually I’m uniquely qualified to help therapists because I have been burned,-because I know what it’s like to engage in bro-marketing and how that won’t translate for therapists. And because I’m a financial therapist. So I know I can help them with the money side of their business, which is something that we also don’t learn in graduate school. So when I decided to team up with my friend, Monica, who’s a former art therapist and she then became a website designer for therapists. Talk about a niche, right? When we partnered up, we wanted to ensure that we were first talking about the emotional side of being a business owner before we ever talked about marketing or niching or, you know, setting your fees because so many people come at it like super strategy heavy, but it doesn’t account for again, the humanness of being a business owner. So an email that went out over the summer was actually, you might’ve might remember this one, Bryan was burn it all down. I was ready to be like, Oh my gosh, I can’t have two niches. I’m going to confuse everybody. Everybody’s going to leave my email list. They’re going to think I’m a fraud. Right? All of that, bro-marketing was like riding around in my head. And then, you know, my friend, Monica, the web designer, she helped me zoom out and go Lindsay, your job is to help people get their minds and money in balance. You do it in two ways. You do it clinically with individuals and couples in your therapy practice and then you do it in a coaching way with other private practice therapists. It’s like, Oh, thank you. Thank you for showing me how to do that. So anyway, it’s, it’s going beautifully because we are not trained about the business side of running a therapeutic practice. So no it’s going great. I’m loving it. It’s so rewarding. It’s so fun. It’s so healing to be in a space with other therapists who are showing up and shaking things up in our industry.
Lindsay took a bold chance, ditching email best practices, but it paid off and her business is in an incredible place because of it. Is there something you’ve wanted to try with email that goes against the grain? It might be worth a simple experiment coming up on our next episode, we’ll hear from Elizabeth McCravy, a web designer based in Nashville who used email marketing to her advantage while growing a successful small business. You won’t want to miss the discussion I have with Elizabeth. So if you’re listening to Pushing Send for the first time, be sure to subscribe at Apple podcasts or wherever you’re listening so you don’t miss an episode. And if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, I’d encourage you to check out a few of our other episodes while you’re here. Lastly, leaving a review will help us share these stories with others, just like yourself. Thanks in advance for doing that. I’m Bryan Kelly, and you’ve been listening to Pushing Send from rasa.io.