Back in February of this year, Jürgen was privileged to make a guest appearance on the WP Elevation Podcast. We’ve transcribed and updated the audio recording so here is the full text of the Jürgen Strauss Interview WP Elevation Podcast Episode # 158, with Gin McInneny.
Gin: Welcome to the WP Elevation Podcast. I’m today’s host Gin McInneny, and in my series of interviews I speak with some of our top members who we call “Elevators”. They share with us their highs, their lows, and how they’ve got their business to where it is today. So if you are interested in getting some tips and strategies from someone who’s been exactly where you are right now in your business, you’re in the right place. Without further ado, let’s go and meet the next “Elevator”.
Gin: Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, thank you for joining us on the WP Elevation Podcast.
Jürgen: You’re welcome, Gin. I’m glad to be here.
Gin: Now, Jürgen, you’ve had an interesting journey to where you got to. Where you’ve established now this great business, Innovabiz. Can you just give us a bit of a history of that journey, and what got you to where you are now?
Jürgen: Indeed it has been an interesting journey if I think back about it. It started off with 27 years in the corporate world and most of that I really enjoyed. Going through the standard career progression type of things that you do if you’re ambitious and driven like I am. I ended up the last couple of years not really enjoying it anymore because I’m driven by serving my clients and helping my clients, and I found the last of couple of years, because of the changing culture of the organisation that I was apologising for the company to clients where I had really good relationships. In fact, the company was banned from visiting some of the customers but I was still allowed to go in there. So I thought there is something wrong with this picture and it’s time to go. It took me 2 years to realize that I needed to make a change. I took the plunge and went out on my own and started Innovabiz.
Back in 1997, I was in a team of 6 to build a website. At that time I didn’t realize how important that little project was. That’s the Paint Quality Institute which is still around today (N.B. Dow Chemicals shut it down soon after this podcast aired, after 20 years of operation), people can find that. When I started my business, I thought because I’ve got a lot of background in marketing and business management that’s what I’ll do. I’ll be a consultant in marketing and business management. But unfortunately, my own marketing was based on corporate marketing and it didn’t really work that well with small business and also the global financial crisis got in the way at that time. I would hear people say “I’m cutting back on ” marketing right now in the meetings we had. In one meeting, I remember somebody saying “…but I need a website. I don’t have a website yet. What can you do?”, and I let that go because I was so focused on wanting to do consulting and marketing. A second person said that, and I thought, that’s interesting. I heard that before. When the third person said the same thing, I went “hang on”, and I said I can do a website. When I did the corporate website, I was involved heavily in developing the strategy and building the search engine strategy around Yahoo in those days, because that was before Google and we had teams to do the programming and all that, so I had to figure out what do I do now. How do I actually make this happen on my own?
I discovered WordPress, built a website in WordPress and the client was really impressed. We actually got him new business from that website very quickly and as a result I thought, I can turn my whole marketing thing on its head and build websites that are actually marketing tools as opposed to nice brochures. So that’s how I ended up where I am now. I’m more or less full circle now, I’m focused very much now on the marketing, on all the strategies around the digital marketing space, social media marketing, content marketing and those things, and websites is the gateway if you like.
Gin: I like that journey. So, did you teach yourself how to do all the coding and design the websites? Did you do some courses along the way?
Jürgen: Yes. I taught myself and did a few courses. I wouldn’t say I’m a really good coder. I got people to help with coding. At some point, I realized that probably, it wasn’t good use of my time to learn some things that I didn’t really enjoy and I struggled with, so I got help in those areas. I can do a little bit of coding but I certainly taught myself how to use WordPress and kept up to date with some of the new developments. Ever since Beaver Builder came along, that totally transformed things for me because it makes things so much easier. I really taught myself a lot of that. I’ve always been in computers in a big way and although my background is Chemistry. I’ve always worked with computers so never was I afraid to jump in and just open programs up and see how does this work.
Gin: I think you’ve got to be like that to do well in this industry. Now, Innovabiz, as you said it has taken on a bit of a life on its own and it’s growing over the time.
What would you say now that you’re getting more requests for, what would you say is your sweet spot now in the business and something that it seems to do really well?
Jürgen: I’ve niched down in the last 12 to 18 months to focus on business coaches, and that’s my sweet. I’ve still got a few clients that are outside of that area, but my marketing now is focused towards business coaches because these are the people that seem to respond really well to my message. I thought why try to force the message in a different direction when it seems to work there, so I focus on that audience.
Gin: Yes, that’s a good way…
Jürgen: And it’s around digital marketing, so somebody said to me recently, you’re kind of a website and marketing coach for business coaches, and I said yes, I think that’s a good snapshot.
Gin: Good way to put it – your elevator pitch! So I know that you’re really good in a few different areas, but I want to dissect a few of them. The first one is getting your customer, the lead and the journey, from recognizing them, building the trust, and getting them in, selling the stuff.
Can you just tell us a bit about how you do that and what you’ve learned over the time in getting that refined?
Jürgen: I guess the key thing to me in that first part, knowing who your client is.
What I’ve developed is a whole system around marketing and I don’t stop when the sale is made. The system is people don’t know you so they’ve got to find out about you. Then you’ve got to build trust, then you’ve got to get them interested in what you actually have to offer by understanding their problem and making sure you have something that matches their need. Then you go through the relationship building stage which is generating leads, nurturing leads and converting them to sales. By the time that you get to the sales part, you should have already done all the work. The sales should actually be easy – if sales is hard then you haven’t done enough work before that.
After the sale, it’s not finished yet! You have to deliver an exceptional product. We assume that our clients have exceptional products or services but we help them develop systems around that, so onboarding, building referrals as a next step, and then we look at how do you scale that. We look at it as a customer journey, almost like a hero’s journey. There’s a call to adventure to start with which is finding out who is somebody out there that might be able to help me and then building that trust and take them on a journey to the point where they are actually managing the whole process themselves.
The big revelation for me and where everything really changed was getting really clear about my target audience. I mentioned that I was focused on business coaches and getting really clear about who they are in great detail, giving them a name and an image that I can attach a whole lot of information to, in my mind, around what are their needs, what are their behaviors, hobbies, what are their values, what are their beliefs, what are their frustrations and aspirations. All these things pull a lot together and that way I can then communicate with those people. Where do they hang out? Do I go into LinkedIn or do I talk to them on Facebook? Where do I find them? Or in real life, are they in Chamber of Commerce meetings or do they go to meetups?
Gin: I like your analogy there around the hero journey. I think that’s a great way and a simple way to visualize it. Tell us a bit more about the hero journey you take a potential client on.
Jürgen: Essentially we’ve broken it down into 3 stages. The “before” stage when they are really just a prospect. The “during” stage where they are a lead, that’s when you’re building a relationship with them and delivering exceptional value to them without necessarily expecting anything back in return. If you take that approach a.) you won’t be disappointed, and b.) you’ll build trust really quickly. People will say “hey, if we are getting all this stuff for free, imagine what the next level is going to be”. The third stage is when they are clients. That’s the stage when we work with them on how do they onboard their clients. How do they optimise the delivery of their services or products in terms of systems and processes and scaling up, and how do they collect reviews and testimonials, how do they build reviews as part of their marketing system, reputation management and then scaling the whole thing so they can take it up to the next level. Essentially there are 12 steps making up those 3 stages and we’ve got a Transformational Marketing Map that people can actually download and get a presentation on how that all works from our website.
Gin: Wow! So you’ve got some really good processes in place there. I want to go a bit deeper on the building trust part.
Can you give me some examples of what you do, what content you put out to build that trust?
Jürgen: We do a lot of blogging. We have the podcast. We’ve got the InnovaBuzz Podcast that is a key part of that. We do a lot of posting on social media, and much of that is automated. When I say it’s automated, the posting of articles and the posting of links back to blogs and other information is automated. But then we spend time actually engaging with people, talking to people, promoting other people’s content as well, sharing other people’s content. We have a regular newsletter that goes out weekly, again sharing some of that content but also sharing other useful content – typically we have 8 articles in there and one may be two will be our own articles and the others will be things we found on the internet that we think are valuable to that audience.
It’s about showing value in terms of I care about your success. Yes, I’m promoting myself AND I actually care about your success, so here’s an article from Gin because she wrote something that’s really useful to you. I’m going to promote other people and give them information from other people where I think that adds value.
Gin: Tell me a bit about the podcast. Because I know that some of the listeners or viewers, they’ve dabbled with the idea of doing that. I’ve seen you progress with the podcast and you’ve got some incredible talent on now.
Can you give us some feedback and some tips on if you are thinking of starting a podcast. You know, does it come naturally? How did you find it? That sort of stuff.
Jürgen: First of all, if anybody is even remotely thinking of doing a podcast, my advice is do it! Just get started and do it. And if you want help to get started, I’m sure you can find a lot of help in the WP Elevation community. So my history was I had some personal coaching with Troy in the very early days when I was a member of WP Elevation. One of the things that Troy said to me was start a podcast. For me, I’m not afraid to get on camera and talk to people even though I’m an introvert by nature. I’m quite happy to have a conversation with somebody so I found the idea of doing an interview on a podcast and thinking of it as a conversation not daunting at all. Troy suggested that because I mentioned earlier that I had this corporate career. Much of that was international so I managed remote teams in 8 different locations and as a result I saw clients internationally and my relationships were really a lot international so when I started a local business, building local relationships, I had to start from a low base.
When I thought about the podcast, I thought I can leverage all these relationships that I’ve built over twenty odd years and actually talk to people who have made very successful careers that were CEOs of big companies and so on. They were doing very innovative things and the theme I chose was innovation. I started off interviewing people and one of the magic questions which really propelled this, the little secret trick at the end of every interview, I say to the guest “Who else would you like me to interview on this podcast?”
What happened was people would introduce me to complete strangers, some of them were quite famous people I’ve heard of, some of them were people I hadn’t heard of but very accomplished, and just by getting that introduction, 80% of the people accepted the invitation to come on the podcast, and I’ve spoke to some amazing people, like you said.
Gin: That’s a great tip. I love that one! What about to someone who, like you said you didn’t find it too difficult, you were lucky with that. A lot of people, you know, it is a bit of a barrier, putting yourself out there like that. Have you got any advice?
Jürgen: It is hard to do, I know, but forget about yourself, think about the audience. You have a gift. You have something to contribute to your audience. If you’re not getting on camera or on a podcast or whatever the medium might be and making that contribution to that audience you’re actually doing them a disservice. So forget about yourself, get over yourself as my business coach tends to say to me. Get over yourself, get out there, think about the audience, make it about them.
Gin: I like that. That’s really good because we’re in this space. We know more than the clients. So you’re right, you’re doing them a disservice if you’re not putting it out there.
Jürgen: Yes, it’s not about showing people that you know more. It’s about actually giving something.
Gin: Spot on. That’s a great way to look at it actually. So have you found that the podcast has helped build your list or how has it actually helped you, your business?
Jürgen: It’s hard to actually quantify and I haven’t really got measures to know, in place. The reason I did it was for positioning, to position myself. Now we have the potential for getting a rather large corporate client in a joint venture initiative that I’m doing. That’s still in the balance, that could be a very significant project and I think the podcast would be a critical factor, in that as part of the trust building bid. I know that a number of small business clients I’ve got have said to me that we signed up with you because of your podcast, we have a number of options but the podcast swayed us.
Gin: Great, so definitely good for positioning, specially, when you’re starting out.
Now I want to ask about, you’ve been in this business for long now, what are some of the biggest challenge you’ve had over the years with having your own business?
Jürgen: Cash flow is always a big challenge. You get to a point where suddenly you spend a lot of money and then you’ve put out a lot of proposals and you’re counting on a lot of money coming in from those proposals and people are sitting on their hands. You know that they like you and want to go ahead but for them there is other stuff going on. They’re delaying the decision or they can’t make the decision right there and then, so you’re in a bit of a bind as well. I find that is draining on my energy sometimes and also I worry about the cash flow then, how am I going to manage this sort of interval. And then all of a sudden the dam breaks and you get 20 or 30 people suddenly sign up for something then you’re next problem is how do I manage all these and get it done in one go. A big part of the challenge is the ups and downs, and probably about 4 or 5 years ago, I changed my business model from building a website as a single service to a monthly retainer payment for most of my clients which helps with the cash flow situation and also it is consistent with the way I want to work, because I want to build long term relationships with my clients rather than here’s the product, OK we’re done, see you later.
Gin: How are you doing that? With care plans?
Jürgen: Yes. Essentially everybody that does a website with me, I tell them upfront that you have to have a care plan, and that works pretty well. The bigger projects like a consulting or a marketing package, I tend to do it over a 12 months period minimum and that works well for the clients because it also helps their cash flow and it works well for me because it gives me 12 months to prove that we can actually make a difference and give them a massive return on the investment that they make with us and the idea then being of course that they continue on.
Gin: That’s good. I like that. So moving on from the challenges, I suppose, looking at the mindset, I know we’ve discussed a few mindset things before, how do you stay positive when things are going bad?
Jürgen: It’s my choice to stay positive! Definitely I have bad days and get into bad moods at times but I try to remind myself all the time that at any given time in this world, this applies to all of us, at any given time in this world, there is somebody out there that’s absolutely desperate for your magic, the magic that only you can provide. If they get to experience that magic, then you transform people’s lives. So you’ve got to find a way to stay positive, to get out there and get in front of those people to build your business in a way that feels good to you, that’s ethical and sustainable, that gives you profit and growth. Otherwise, you basically depriving those people of your gifts. I remind myself of that all the time, and I’d say I do what I do because, first of all I get a huge buzz, that I’ve contributed to someone else’s success. I love seeing people succeed and I also feel that if I help my clients become wealthy, then they will transform other people’s lives. I could leverage my effect on the world.
Gin: Oh! That’s so good. I love that way of looking at things. The other thing is if you got that self doubt and think, well, Joe Blow does it, down the road he’s doing the same job. He knows more than me, but the thing is you got to look at the jelling of different personalities, of different natures as well. I’m sure you’ve been able to read a lot the clients who just you know straight up are the right fit for you and the ones you know you’re gonna make some magic together.
Jürgen: That’s exactly right. Because Joe Blow down the road might know more than I do or might be better at a lot of things than I am, but he can’t do what I do, and he can’t do it in the way I do it. So if I’m a good match for the client then Joe Blow isn’t really my competition.
Gin: Exactly. I know you are a cycling enthusiast and you’ve done some incredibly difficult cycling races, events and trainings.
Do you find that that’s something that you use to sort of also do a bit of self care and take some time out from the business? Is that important?
Jürgen: It is. It’s really important. I try to get out on the bike every morning. Six in the morning I am usually out for an hour or so with my buddies. Sometimes I go on my own if things get in the way and there’s only one or two people turn up . So if there’s isn’t anyone turn up but me, then I’m on my own – I find that cycling on my own is actually really good because I get a lot of ideas when I do that. I’m not talking to people, I’m in my own world. I find that if I skip a day for whatever reason, it just doesn’t feel right. I’ve got this little sign up on my pinboard here that says “Everyday that you ride a bike is a good day”.
Gin: That’s great! To some people it’s not necessarily exercise. It’s maybe finding that creative pursuit.
Jürgen: That’s right. It’s whatever you’re passionate about. Obviously, I really love my bike riding. I’m passionate about it. It’s kind of doing what you’re passionate about to be able to get away from the work, get away from the computer screen, switch off for a bit. Let the mind switch off. So I had an interesting conversation on the podcast with Dr. Fiona Kerr, who’s a neuroscientist, and she was giving the scientific explanation of how, if you switch your mind off, you allow your mind to daydream; how that actually helps you to be more creative and helps you develop new ideas.
Gin: I’ve heard a lot about that. I’m gonna get a link for that and put that in the show notes because especially with what we do, when often we work so long, I think it’s good to be able to take that time and stop thinking about the business nonstop 24/7.
Now we’re getting to the tail end and I want to ask you some nitty gritty questions. The first one I want to ask is what’s your favorite WordPress or your go to WordPress thing?
Jürgen: Beaver Builder Page and Theme Builders
Gin: Without a doubt! Didn’t take time to think about that!
Jürgen: Without a doubt! I didn’t need time to think about that. I had a bunch of different things I was using for a while until Beaver Builder came along. I’ve became a Genesis fan and did a lot with Genesis. But when Beaver Builder came along, I thought, this is so easy and so versatile. There’s so much you can do particularly now that they’ve added the themer with it.
Gin: Yes, a lot of our elevators feel the same way about that. Before I go into the next one, tell me just day to day, you were talking about your blogging. I saw you blogging and you got a small team. What tools do you that you couldn’t do without, 2 or 3 tools?
Jürgen: Number 1 is probably Slack which is where we do a lot of communication. Every morning I get on there and say “good morning”. We have a little like a virtual coffee chat with the team. Then Zoom, I use. We have an expression just we say “google it”, we say “let’s zoom”, and then we’ll jump on the Zoom link and have a live chat. So that’s definitely a really important one. The other one, I’m just having a look over here what’s open the screen. We got heaps and heaps of tools.
Gin: Yeah, but they are your 2 go to’s that you can’t do without.
Jürgen: They are the 2 go to’s, yes. I think I’ve a got a lead magnet that I’m trying to build out which is the Ten Key Tools for running outsourced teams. I can’t remember what else is on there but definitely we use Zapier quite a lot. I’ve become a huge fan, I’ll give a shout out to the guys at Paperform, a little startup company in Sydney. They’re going gangbusters. That’s a really useful tool. Instead of doing a lot with Gravity Forms, now I’m doing a lot more in that.
Gin: Sounds good. Now with Innovabiz, where do you see it going in the next two to three years?
Jürgen: Some of the exciting initiatives we’ve got going are a couple of joint ventures. I mentioned to you earlier about this corporate client, that international client, where we might be doing some training programs in person and online. Stuff that I see, us doing a lot more of. I’m also running a partnership with those same people an annual business planning summit, where we look at the mindset of running a business, the mindset of getting to a million dollar turnover business, that’s an annualised turnover and not once off. Basically, a whole system around marketing, a whole system around sales, and a whole systems around building systems within the business to make sure that you can actually scale it up to that level. We do that in a fun location. Last year, we were in Coconut Island, off Phuket in Thailand.
Gin: That’s beautiful!
Jürgen: This year we’re going to Vanuatu.
Gin: Oh my gosh! Everyone’s a winner in that one!
Jürgen: That’s right in June. It’s amazing because I mentioned earlier how I love to see people succeed. So last year we had 5 businesses in Thailand. Particularly, one of those businesses was kind of a little bit lost in a way and they’re just going gangbusters, —- kicking goals you wouldn’t believe. It’s amazing and it’s all around the systems and focus. The lady who runs it has done her work, but the guide and the stuff we’ve given them has made a huge difference, and that’s given me a massive buzz.
Gin: That’s so rewarding.
Jürgen: So we’ve got 7, I think we got a couple of places left actually for Vanuatu. We got 7 going to Vanuatu and we’re looking forward to doing that again. It’s 4 of us that do the coaching for those sessions. I found that in doing that coaching I was having a whole lot of ideas and transformations for my own business as well. It works – win, win, win, win, if you like.
Gin: Oh that sounds incredible! I’ll definitely put a link to that in the show notes as well. I might have to check my budget to see if I can come along to that one. I haven’t been to Vanuatu before. We’re gonna end it on that, Jürgen, so I’d like to say thank you so much for joining us today and Jürgen is also WP Elevation Community Mentor, which means he’s one of our alumni members who helps everyone in the group with his sage advice and knowledge and wisdom. So we can’t do without you, Jürgen. You’re fantastic and it’s been great to see your business grow and do so many things over the years. I hope that gives people some inspiration where they’re at at the moment. If you’ve got any questions, please make sure you put them in the show notes and I’m sure Jürgen will get back to you. Thank you very much Jürgen it’s been inspiring.
Jürgen: Thanks very much Gin. Thanks for having me.