Nov. 7, 2022

Working At The Intersection of Marketing And Mental Health With Michael Fulwiler

Working At The Intersection of Marketing And Mental Health With Michael Fulwiler

Working At The Intersection of Marketing And Mental Health With Michael Fulwiler

Michael operates at the intersection of marketing and mental health. He leads brand marketing at Heard, the financial back-office for therapists. 

He's also the founder of Fulwiler Media, a marketing consultancy for mental health companies, and the author of Therapy Marketer, a popular weekly newsletter for therapists. He is the former Chief Marketing Officer of the Gottman Institute.


Learn more about Michael here


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Working At The Intersection of Marketing And Mental Health With Michael Fulwiler

[00:00:00] John Cordray: So you have heard me talk about mental health and marketing before. It wasn't that long ago that I had Steve turn on. He's the CEO of the mental health marketing conference that's gonna be in November. So you've heard me talk about that. Steve is not a marketer though, and I wanted to bring on someone who is and has a lot of experience working in mental.

[00:00:23] John Cordray: And again, it's very, very important, even if you're not a marketer yourself, maybe you're someone that is looking for help with their mental health, and maybe you're wondering, well, how do therapists, how do they actually attract clients? How do they fill up their schedule? Well, it's market. And like I said before, this is something, marketing is not something that we are taught or what we learn in school.

[00:00:51] John Cordray: So it's important to know how to do it and why we do it, and that's why we're gonna be talking about working at the intersection of [00:01:00] marketing and mental health. With Michael, Full Weiler coming right up. Oh, don't worry about 

[00:01:06] John Cordray: Welcome to the Mental Health Today Show.

[00:01:08] John Cordray: My name is John Cordray and I am a licensed therapist and I am the host of this show and I am really happy that you are here and tuning in today. I've got a very special guest. His name is Michael Full. He leads brand marketing at Herd, which is a a mental health tech company, and it's the financial back office, if you will, for therapist.

[00:01:31] John Cordray: He's also the founder of Full Wilder Media, a marketing consultancy for mental health companies, and the author of a Therapy marketer, a popular weekly newsletter just for therapist, and he is also the former Chief Marketing officer of the Gottman. I. Michael, it is great to have you. Welcome to the show.

[00:01:52] John Cordray: Hi John. 

[00:01:53] Michael Fulwiler: Thank you so much for having me. 

[00:01:55] John Cordray: Oh, it's my pleasure. And I know you've done a lot, been around a lot and a lot of [00:02:00] experience in marketing. I am really curious. How did you get involved with marketing and mental health? I got 

[00:02:09] Michael Fulwiler: start in in marketing. In the mental health space. When I was in college at the University of Washington in Seattle, I interned my senior year at the Gottman Institute.

[00:02:22] Michael Fulwiler: They brought me on to help kind of bring their brand forward. You know, they had been around for, for many years, but didn't have much of a digital presence, and this was back in 2010, 2011. So I helped build their. I helped set them up on Facebook, which was the , the social media channel of the time. And when I graduated from college, I, I came on full time.

[00:02:50] Michael Fulwiler: And so it wasn't necessarily something that I intentionally. Set out to do to work in the mental health space. But almost [00:03:00] immediately I fell in love with the work especially working with therapists every day. Just felt so inspired by the work that. That you all do and just felt so called to, to help.

[00:03:13] Michael Fulwiler: And so I ended up staying at the Gottman Institute for over eight years. By the end of my time there, I was, the chief marketing officer had built out an entire marketing, marketing department. Left to start my own business. I've spent the last two years working as a marketing consultant to mental health professionals as well as mental health tech startups, and recently came on full time with Herd, as you mentioned, a company that I had been consulting with and so have really kind of made a career as a marketer in the mental health space.

[00:03:49] John Cordray: I find that really interesting that you didn't set out to work with mental health therapists, but here you are, , so it's, it's always really [00:04:00] interesting in the doors that opened up for you. And I, I would imagine, you know, you, you mentioned that you first really started out in marketing and branding with the Gottman Institute and you were doing your internship.

[00:04:13] John Cordray: I, I would imagine you probably learned a lot about mental health just from doing. 

[00:04:18] Michael Fulwiler: Absolutely mental health and relationships specifically, you know, was . It was funny for me to be, you know, a single college, you know, recent graduate working at the Gottman Institute. You know, my friends would joke that, you know, I was training to be a, a relationship expert and I didn't know a lot, but definitely, you know, picked up a lot of relationship and communication skills that have helped me in my personal.

[00:04:45] Michael Fulwiler: Oh, that's 

[00:04:46] John Cordray: great. So I, I can just imagine the experience that you gained from working there. Mm-hmm. , So you mentioned this a little bit ago, you helped therapists with their digital presence and marketing, and I know learning, [00:05:00] marketing and branding is so important, especially for therapists who are trying to go out on their own.

[00:05:06] John Cordray: And be in private practice. And I had a private practice for 10 years and I had to learn it all myself. And it was a lot of work trying to have a full load of my practice and trying to figure out how to, to develop Facebook ads and get the word out and that's hard. That's a lot of work. So what specifically do you do when you work with individual therapists?

[00:05:34] John Cordray: What are some things. You would help them with, I'm sure it's probably different for every therapist, but some of the basics that you would help with. Yeah, so just 

[00:05:45] Michael Fulwiler: to set the, the context here for folks who are listening, who you know aren't therapists. If you go to graduate school to become a therapist, you learn clinical skills, but you're not taught business skills.

[00:05:58] Michael Fulwiler: And so you graduate, [00:06:00] you get your license, and then if you decide to go into private practice, , you now become an entrepreneur and a small business owner without any formal business training. And when I worked at the Gottman Institute, I would travel all over the country to. Trainings and conferences and therapists would walk up to our booth and they'd ask, Who does marketing here?

[00:06:24] Michael Fulwiler: And I'd raise my hand and they'd walk over and they'd ask, Hey, do you freelance? Do you do consulting work? Can you help me ? And you know, for years I said no, because I just didn't have time. You know, I had a full-time job running marketing for the institute. And so finally one day I just decided, you know what?

[00:06:42] Michael Fulwiler: There are so many therapists. Are really great clinicians, but just need support on the marketing side of their business. And I think the big kind of misconception about marketing is that it's about promoting [00:07:00] yourself and selling yourself and that doesn't feel very good, . And you know, when I talk to therapists about marketing, the way that I explain it to them is it's really just about letting people know.

[00:07:13] Michael Fulwiler: Who you are and how you can help them, right? And there are people out there who are looking for a therapist. There is more demand for, for therapy than there are supply of therapists. And so marketing is just about, you know, letting people know that you're available, that are already looking for you. And that 

[00:07:34] John Cordray: is critical in, you know, a lot of people who are listening to this are not therapists.

[00:07:40] John Cordray: And you know, this is, this is about marketing for therapists and we're talking about why it's so important. But think about those of you who are, maybe you're currently looking for a therapist, or maybe you've been to a therapist, or you're currently meeting with a therapist. That therapist had to do [00:08:00] something to get the word.

[00:08:02] John Cordray: and I don't know how you found them, but they were probably listed on a directory. Maybe they might have a website that you found them, but you're exactly right, Michael. We were not taught and still are not taught how to market ourselves. And it is so important because we know the, there's a lot of noise online and it's hard to break through the.

[00:08:28] John Cordray: There are just a lot of great therapists who are ready and maybe they're on the, the cusp of starting their own practice and they're ready to open their doors and they hear crickets. It's because they are trying to figure out how to market themselves, and that's why marketing is so important because without marketing and brand, I know when you hear those words, you might think of big companies like Nike [00:09:00] and Apple and, and all these big companies that would do a lot of branding, and that's true, they do.

[00:09:05] John Cordray: But for the, the little guys, the individual or the small practice, they need to do their branding as well. And without it, they're not going to be able. Reach those who are looking for therapists. And so the branding, the way I look at it, the branding and the marketing is the bridge between the person who is looking for help.

[00:09:28] John Cordray: It's a bridge to the therapist who is ready to offer the help. And that's why it is so important. And so what you are doing, Michael, is a very important part. You're behind the scenes, but without you. You wouldn't be able to bridge that gap that's there between people who need to help and the therapists who are willing to help.

[00:09:53] John Cordray: And so that's a, I think a good analogy. And I'm really interested to learn a little bit [00:10:00] about your Therapy marketer newsletter. Tell me a little bit about that. How did that come. When I, you 

[00:10:08] Michael Fulwiler: know, first started my own business, there were more therapists who were reaching out to me for help than I could help, like

[00:10:17] Michael Fulwiler: I found pretty quickly that I can only work with, you know, four or five therapists at a time. If, if I was helping them to build out a marketing plan, maybe helping them to, to build out a website. And so, you know, my way of being able. Offer information and education to therapists that, you know, either didn't have the time necessarily to engage with me or that, you know, I wasn't able to help them just cuz you know my schedule was full.

[00:10:45] Michael Fulwiler: I decided to start writing a newsletter, and so once a week I send out an email on, on Tuesday mornings, and you know, my goal is to deliver, you know, one takeaway in, in every [00:11:00] email, and that's something that. I talk to, you know, the therapist that I work with and the marketing clients that I have, consulting clients is, is really whether you are marketing through a newsletter or you know, through social media, through a blog, kind of whatever the channel is that you're leveraging, that you should really be delivering value.

[00:11:19] Michael Fulwiler: And so for me, you know, my goal is every newsletter that that goes out has value in it that is, is practical. And I get a lot of really great feedback. People tell me, you know, this is, you know, my favorite email that I get every week. It's like always so, so valuable and . So that's really good feedback from me because that's what I'm going for.

[00:11:39] Michael Fulwiler: And so I started that newsletter really is just a side project in October. 2020, I believe. And so it's coming up on almost two years, coming up on almost the, the hundredth issue of the newsletter. And it's grown to over 2000 [00:12:00] therapists. And the list has gotten to a size where now I can start selling sponsorships to companies that are, you know, wanting to reach therapists.

[00:12:09] Michael Fulwiler: So I've been able to monetize the newsletter as well, which has been a nice, a nice income. , 

[00:12:16] John Cordray: that is really cool. And you know, that, that brings to my mind as a therapist and when I had a private practice. So I'm not in private practice right now. I'm, I'm working for a, a mental health tech company and I do telehealth counseling full time remotely.

[00:12:33] John Cordray: But when I was in private practice, one of the things that I was looking into doing is multiple streams of. And I think that's wise for just about anybody, not just therapists, because in these times, we need to be able to utilize our skills in many different ways and why not possibly earn an extra income?

[00:12:59] John Cordray: So we have [00:13:00] multiple strains of income happening because so many of us have what I call transferable skills. And there are a lot of therapists that have transferable skills that they may not use directly in their therapy session, but they certainly can, can use those skills outside of the therapy session.

[00:13:20] John Cordray: And that's essentially what you're doing. You are using your skills as a marketer, as a branding specialist, and you're working and using and helping other. And you're trying to bring in another stream of income, and I think that's very wise for you to do that. So, Okay. Along those lines, I'm curious, what would you encourage Now, I, I haven't read your newsletter.

[00:13:48] John Cordray: I'll have to say . So I had to sign up for this. What would you say to a therapist along the lines of, an extra income, another stream of income? [00:14:00] Is that something that you talk about or re. 

[00:14:04] Michael Fulwiler: I think it really depends, you know, I think that there's a lot of pressure, especially through social media, to hustle and grind and have multiple streams of income.

[00:14:16] Michael Fulwiler: And , you see these like business gurus right on, on LinkedIn and Instagram and you know, I think there's, there's something to be said about having multiple streams of. For me personally, I have my full-time job, I have a newsletter, and also teaching a workshop coming up, I'll do speaking engagements. And the reason that personally I like that, is that it gives me variety in my work.

[00:14:46] Michael Fulwiler: And it's also nice to, to make some extra money on the side. And, you know, those kind of, those streams of income I'll add up. So with that said, if. A therapist and you're listening and [00:15:00] you're content seeing clients and doing clinical work and shutting off at, you know, the end of the day and enjoying your family and your, your friends, Like, there's nothing wrong with that.

[00:15:12] Michael Fulwiler: So I don't think that we should, you know, be pressuring people into having multiple streams of income, but I think. You're interested in that. I think the takeaway that I hope you have from from this is that it's, it's a possibility for you and I think that mental health, because of the pandemic, has become much more normalized, going to therapy, has become less stigmatized, which I think is a great thing.

[00:15:39] Michael Fulwiler: And I already mentioned. There's an increased demand for mental health professionals from people who are seeking therapists. But there's also increased demand from organizations and companies who are hoping to bring in mental health professionals to consult with them on, you know, how to improve the mental [00:16:00] health of their employees.

[00:16:01] Michael Fulwiler: And so consulting is, is a whole nother opportunity for therapists as well. Kind of in addition to when you think of the kind of typical. Streams of income, like selling courses maybe, or having a podcast and selling sponsorships or, you know, being on social media, like those are kind of the, the typical income streams you think of.

[00:16:21] Michael Fulwiler: But I actually help therapists to get consulting opportunities working with, with companies, especially mental health tech companies. You know, it's, it's a no-brainer that mental health tech company that doesn't have a clinical founder or clinician on their leadership team should be working with mental health professional in a consulting or advisory capacity.

[00:16:45] Michael Fulwiler: There's a lot of opportunities as therapists. And I 

[00:16:48] John Cordray: appreciate you saying that and, and I, I totally agree with you. Getting a, a second or a third stream of income is not something that we have to do, and it's not something that we [00:17:00] also have to be pressured to. And you're right, we are a society, and it depends on if you follow, certain gurus will say you have to work, work, work, work, work.

[00:17:11] John Cordray: And that goes against what, what we teach our, our. And because I, I do believe in taking breaks and taking time for your family and self care, definitely do that. But there are some therapists that are creative and that have more of an entrepreneur mind, and so that would be a good fit. But it's certainly not, That's not wrong, just to say, You know what, I'm fine.

[00:17:35] John Cordray: I'll just work as a therapist, see my clients, and then I'll shut down and do it again the next day. And that's fine. That's. But for some of you who are listening to this, you're thinking, Yeah, I, I'm interested in consulting. That sounds awesome because then you're using your skills to help a company and helping even more people by doing that.

[00:17:59] John Cordray: [00:18:00] So that's, that's great. Great, great advice. Thank you for that, Micko. I appreciate that. So tell me a little bit more about herd. You are the brand marketing lead at Herd. What is Herd? Tell me a little bit about. 

[00:18:15] Michael Fulwiler: Herd is a software company and we are building the financial back office for mental health professionals.

[00:18:25] Michael Fulwiler: And so that includes bookkeeping, tax filing, and payroll services. Herd started two years ago as a matching platform. We joke. It was used to be like a bumble for therapy matching therapists with, with clients. And in doing interviews with therapists, hundreds of interviews, what we learned was that therapists were really struggling with the financial side of their practice.

[00:18:55] Michael Fulwiler: So just, you know, as I was hearing from therapists that they were struggling with the marketing side of [00:19:00] their practice. We also at heard, were hearing that therapists were really struggling with their bookkeeping, with their taxes, and they were working with CPAs who were very expensive and they didn't understand their business, or they were trying to do it on their own.

[00:19:15] Michael Fulwiler: They were spending a lot of time. And you know, the nature of of therapy is that as a therapist, if you're not seeing a client, you're typically not making. So time is literally money as a therapist, . And so if you're spending time, you know, hours a week on your finances, you know, it's a client or two that you can't see in your practice, you know, kind of money aside, just think about the impact that you can make.

[00:19:42] Michael Fulwiler: And, and so at h we're really excited to be, you know, solving this problem 

[00:19:47] John Cordray: for therapists. And that is a big problem that you're solving. That's, that's huge. I mean, I just think back when I was in my private practice, you're exactly right, it was a lot. Lot of time devoted [00:20:00] to a payroll. Cause I had a staff and taxes and estimated taxes, All that stuff I hate doing.

[00:20:08] John Cordray: And if there was a company like her to be able to do it, ah, that would've been great. So is is herd the services that you all offer, is it only for therapist in private practice? Right now. 

[00:20:21] Michael Fulwiler: Yeah, so we really specialize in private practice therapists, and the reason for that is, is the platform is really tailored for therapists.

[00:20:29] Michael Fulwiler: And so when you go into, you know, categorize your transactions, the, the categories are specific to therapists. So we make it really easy to, to do 

[00:20:38] John Cordray: your books Nice. And so if a, a therapist who maybe they're in private practice or they're getting ready to launch their private. How would they go about contacting her?

[00:20:52] John Cordray: What would they do? What, what are the steps to kinda get the ball rolling? 

[00:20:56] Michael Fulwiler: Yeah, so if you go to, go to our website, join [00:21:00], just right on the homepage, you're able to schedule a free consult call. And so if you're interested in learning more to see if it's a good fit you can schedule a, a free consult.

[00:21:13] Michael Fulwiler: And then if you decide to join, It's a pretty straightforward process. You sign up, connect your business bank accounts, so all those transactions come through. And then we get to work on categorizing and kind of getting your books up to date. And then we meet with you quarterly to help with your quarterly taxes.

[00:21:37] Michael Fulwiler: And then we also file your taxes at the end of the. 

[00:21:41] John Cordray: That is huge . Wow. I, I just think that's amazing. So if you're not a therapist and you're thinking, Well, what does this have to do with me? It has everything to do with you. Because if your therapist is not able to keep up their books, they're gonna close down their [00:22:00] doors, period.

[00:22:02] John Cordray: And if a therapist is not able to keep their records and their books, Then they're not gonna be able to afford their marketing and they're gonna have to go somewhere else. And you know, that's a tragedy when that happens. And if a therapist, I don't know the statistics right now off the top of my head, but I don't know how many private practices that launch fail.

[00:22:28] John Cordray: And I'm sure there's a, a statistic out there, and I'm sure it's a lot and not being able to do their finances correctly. I'm sure is a big part of that. And so this is a big deal to be able to offer this service to therapists because again, we are not taught in school how to have a budget and operate a business.

[00:22:53] John Cordray: These are things that we have to learn on top of everything else. So this is a fantastic opportunity [00:23:00] for therapists who have a private practice who, who don't want to. Work on their finances and need someone who knows what they're doing, and they worked specifically for therapists. That's huge. So we're not talking about your local accountant down the road.

[00:23:16] John Cordray: And I'm sure they would do a fine job, but they are not working specifically for therapists, but herd is. And, and that's, that's fantastic. Very, very 

[00:23:26] Michael Fulwiler: cool. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. We're, 

[00:23:28] John Cordray: we're excited. Yeah, absolutely. And so, Michael, if you were to. Just say like one or two things that we haven't really talked about yet that you would like to share, either about you or about marketing in general for therapists or about herd.

[00:23:47] John Cordray: What would be something that you would like to leave us with? Sure. Well, I wanted 

[00:23:52] Michael Fulwiler: to let folks know I'll be speaking at the mental health marketing conference, so if you're interested in [00:24:00] the intersection of, of mental health and marketing, this is a really unique event that's happening in Nashville in November.

[00:24:08] Michael Fulwiler: It sounds like Steve was on the podcast as well talking about the conference, so really, really looking forward to that. I was initially scheduled for last year and had to be rescheduled due to the pandemic. I believe that there's a virtual. Option as well. So really looking forward to that event and, you know, hoping to, to meet some folks including yourself.

[00:24:27] Michael Fulwiler: Yeah, I can't wait. Yeah, if you're listening to this and you do attend the conference, be sure to introduce yourself. I, I'd love to meet you. Fantastic. 

[00:24:36] John Cordray: Well, I have one last question for you and, and it is actually a question that I ask all of my guests and I talk a lot about self. And how important self care is and, and why we should do it.

[00:24:51] John Cordray: And so I wanted to ask you, Michael, what are some things that you do for your own self care? 

[00:24:59] Michael Fulwiler: I go to [00:25:00] to therapy weekly, and you know, that's something that over the last year I went to, every other week I felt like, you know, I, I don't have big things that I'm working on right now. Feel more kind of in, you know, maintenance.

[00:25:15] Michael Fulwiler: So let's, let's switch to every other week. And I actually found that that had a, a big impact on, on me and my own kind of mental health. And so I'm now back in, in weekly sessions. And so I want folks to know that, you know, even if nothing is wrong, you know, or you're not having struggles, going to, to therapy is, is a really great thing to have.

[00:25:40] Michael Fulwiler: Space to talk about and process things that are going on in your life. And so that's, that's definitely been huge for me. You know, I'm an athlete and I go to the gym and so having kind of that same routine for, for my mental health has been super 

[00:25:58] John Cordray: important. Wow. [00:26:00] That is so, so good. And that also brings to, to my mind, Yes.

[00:26:07] John Cordray: Going to see a therapist. I I'll say that right, cuz I am one. But, but going to see a therapist for your self care is critical. And you bring up a really good point that you don't have to have major problems going on to see a therapist. And you can go to a therapist just for self-improvement. I mean, your, your therapist will be glad and delighted that you're coming for.

[00:26:34] John Cordray: And, And then the other thing, I just really appreciate you, Michael, being willing to say that, that you go see a therapist because there is a lot of stigma to that, especially for guys. Yep. And so I appreciate you being willing to say that and say it. There's nothing wrong. In fact, it's really good to go see a therapist.

[00:26:53] John Cordray: It's one of the best things you can do. 

[00:26:55] Michael Fulwiler: Yeah. I mean that's, I think if you're able to go [00:27:00] in a place where you can. Proactive and preventative. I think that's where the work gets done, right? Like, you're not putting out fires, you're not reactive to what's going on in your life. You're really being proactive.

[00:27:14] Michael Fulwiler: I think that's where the kind of the self, self-improvement 

[00:27:18] John Cordray: happens. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's where we, we grow. We grow through that and being preventative and not waiting until something major. Michael, I just really appreciate you taking some time to, to come on a show and, and talk to us about your expertise and why you do what you do.

[00:27:38] John Cordray: I really appreciate you because without folks like you and professionals like you, therapists like us, have a very difficult time getting the word out and just having a private practice. So thank you for what you do. 

[00:27:51] Michael Fulwiler: Thanks for, for having me on. I really enjoyed the conversation. Me too. 

[00:27:54] John Cordray: And. Appreciate what you do and the folks at Herd thank you Herd.

[00:27:58] John Cordray: If you're listening to this [00:28:00] and , and I want to thank all of you for listening and tuning in. This show would not be in existence if it wasn't for you, and I know many of you listened all over the place and doing so many things, so I appreciate you taking time to listen to this episode and for following The Mental Health Today Show.

[00:28:19] John Cordray: I want to encourage you to continue working on your mental. Do everything that you can. Go see a therapist. If you're on the edge and trying to figure out whether you should go or not, just take this as a sign. You should go . So continue working on your mental health and remember the Mental Health Today Show has been championing your mental health since 2015.

[00:28:44] John Cordray: Take care. Bye bye.

Michael FulwilerProfile Photo

Michael Fulwiler

Brand Marketing Lead at Heard

Michael operates at the intersection of marketing and mental health. He leads brand marketing at Heard, the financial back-office for therapists. He's also the founder of Fulwiler Media, a marketing consultancy for mental health companies, and author of Therapy Marketer, a popular weekly newsletter for therapists. He is the former Chief Marketing Officer of the Gottman Institute.