Vince is the Founder and CEO of the marketing automation firm, Automated Dreams, in Portland, OR. Vince helps businesses scale their positive impact in the world through automation, conversational marketing, and mentors leaders to work smarter not harder. Vince is also an avid world traveler, visiting more than 40 countries (and counting). His passion for travel and world cultures has allowed him to excel at leading large multicultural teams for the last 5 years. He currently leads a team of 22 people, serving 50 clients.
In this episode, we talk about the basics of automation and the benefits a business can get from leveraging automation, how to personalize chat marketing, the #1 error businesses make when creating a chatbot, where to find digital marketing certifications that actually get you clients, and more!
Full Episode Transcript:
Kenny Soto 0:00
Recording. We are recording and 54321 Hello everyone and welcome to Kenny Soto’s Digital Marketing podcast. We are now recording episode 26. And I just want to start off the podcast by saying thank you, to you, the listener for sticking with me as I go through this journey, interviewing the world’s best marketers and experts in marketing to not only learn about all the different skills out there, but also to share tips and tricks with you. And today we have a very special guest. His name is Vince de Benedito.
Did I say that correctly events you did good job. Perfect. So Vince is the founder and CEO of the marketing automation firm, automated dreams in Portland, Oregon, Vince helps businesses scale their positive impact in the world through automation, conversational marketing, and he also mentors to he also mentors leaders to work smarter and not harder. Vince is an avid world traveler visiting more than 40 countries and counting. His passion for travel and world cultures has allowed him to excel at leading large multicultural teams. And he’s been doing this for five years. He currently leads a team of 22 people, and he serves over 50 clients. Welcome, Vince.
Vince Benedetto 1:21
Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.
Kenny Soto 1:24
Vince, I usually start this podcast by asking a simple question to get more context on your professional background. And for the audience to get a better understanding of what is it that you do? So my first question for you is, why did you get into digital marketing?
Vince Benedetto 1:43
Yeah, I think I knew very early on just watching my father through his businesses, but he never really wanted to work for anybody. And I always knew that. Yeah, I’ll try working for someone out of school, see how it goes, but probably will end up being an entrepreneur.
And I think that digital marketing is the easiest and like, least risky area to get into business as an entrepreneur, like in terms of overhead and all that. And so yeah, out of out of my MBA, I worked for Intel and their marketing experience department. And then I worked for an author doing all things marketing, automation, customer service, and really enjoyed this, this niche area of automation. And so I decided to quit and like go Go on, go on by myself. And it’s been three years with this business now.
Kenny Soto 2:36
So for anyone that doesn’t know, could you tell them what automation is?
Vince Benedetto 2:42
Yeah, so we say marketing automation, it’s business process automation, basically taking any tasks that you can clearly define and automating. And so having a machine do it, having a computer system do it rather than a human being. And there’s a lot of pushback in the beginning, when people are not so new to automation, it’s like, is it going to take my job? In a sense, it takes like the most mundane tasks, like anything that’s repeatable, that you know, you do every day, every month, every quarter every year, like all those things can be clearly defined and automated.
And that’s why like, you know, our mission statement is allowing businesses human talents to thrive. Nobody likes data entry here. Maybe they do. But, yeah, like we try to create strong business foundations through automation, which take up the human error, but also, again, allow human talent to thrive and enjoy what they’re doing.
Kenny Soto 3:39
I’m glad you mentioned human error, because my own personal experience with marketing automation is using a tool called Zapier. Are you familiar with Zapier?
Vince Benedetto 3:48
Yeah, I’m, we’re certified experts in Zapier.
Kenny Soto 3:51
Yeah. So I’ve been using Zapier for about five, five and a half months now. And I can see why it’s such a valuable tool because for my own clients, what I do is a lot of reporting on lead generation, and human error tends to be one of many things to keep in mind.
And any measurement tool loses value over time, if it’s affected by human error, where Zapier has affected my own personal life is I can create a zap, where I’m pulling data from our a particular software that’s collecting customer service or customer relation data, excuse me, and pull it into a Google sheet where I don’t need to do that myself. And it’s doing it on a consistent basis, saving me time and making it so that I can report on progress better for my clients.
Now, how did you can you give us like an example of how your company uses automation to help a business?
Vince Benedetto 4:53
Oh, yeah, there’s there’s all kinds of use cases. We work with Grant Cardone and one of his ventures called CARDONE ventures and we use conversational marketing to automate a very simple conversation. So automation can again be super advanced and complex, but it’s really good to start simple.
And what’s really powerful for them is a automated conversation around pre qualifying. So you know, they have 1015 different products, but everyone who comes in to have a conversation, like, we need to find out what the right path is for them. So through like automation through an automated conversation, branching tree, we lead them to the right place. So it’s, again, it’s really good to prequalify your leads, like you can push, you can have anyone fill out a lead form and drop into your list.
And you can have a list of 100,000 people in your email, when only really like 10,000 of them are your ideal clients. So I think it’s it’s really important to use automation. To narrow down that list. I like it when my clients have a lot smaller but more active marketing lists.
Kenny Soto 5:59
And how do you personalize automation?
Vince Benedetto 6:04
Great question. So, in particular, with conversation marketing, I mean, we get so much input from a user like you. And all that input you’re giving us can all be then turned around to automate.
So like from the very basic, you know, we can use, we call merge fields or custom user fields to say, you know, Hey, Kenny, and then push back a bunch of responses based off how you responded. So it’s just it’s having a conversation. And there’s tools like Google dialogue flow, and IBM Watson, which get a lot more advanced. That that includes natural language processing, so can actually have a conversation.
Kenny Soto 6:48
Can you expand more on Google dialogue flow? Because I’ve heard of IBM Watson, but I haven’t heard of that of Google dial. It’s the same thing. Yeah, it’s, it’s just a competitor. Got it? And what what is chat marketing? Can you can you define that for us as well?
Vince Benedetto 7:04
Yeah, chat marketing. It just allows your business to have conversations at scale. And in particular, we focus on Facebook Messenger, just because of how many people actually have the app downloaded.
And Facebook is doing this huge thing, which they’ve started to roll out now, which is called interoperability. So they’re basically combining your Instagram, your whatsapp and Your Messenger. So everything we’re building in Messenger is going to be deployed on these platforms.
And so basically, when people say, like, is my business, right for chat marketing, the first question I have is, do you have conversations? And if the answer is yes, then you can benefit from having conversations at scale.
Kenny Soto 7:47
What are some common mistakes businesses make when they try to create their own Facebook Messenger bot, like prior to having an interaction with you?
Vince Benedetto 7:56
Yeah, they take their number one error is they take their email marketing, like their email, swipe, copy, and dump it into like a messenger flow. And it’s just absolutely horrible. Because it’s just it’s, it’s this wall of text, like 5678 messages in a row. And it’s not a conversation. And so people will throw their hands up and be like, Well, Facebook Messenger is not working for me, this is not working.
That’s like, well, you just blasted someone on like a conversational channel with like a spray and pray message. Yeah, so it’s a completely differentway of marketing that people are not used to.
Kenny Soto 8:33
And what would you say? Regardless of whether or not a client would be your customer, right, what would you say are like some best practices that all businesses should keep in mind when they want to incorporate chat marketing in their marketing strategy?
Vince Benedetto 8:50
Yeah, I think it’s really important to look at it as another tool as part of your tech stack, not something that’s separate from it. So something to really focus on is that we look at existing campaigns, existing marketing efforts, existing places where we can test the tool, like side by side to see some quick wins and quick results.
Because if you like that’s the first place you should start because if you’re trying to start with some new campaign, that’s never been proven before, like, yeah, it’s probably gonna fail because you haven’t proven it elsewhere. So really, try to set yourself up for success and some exciting results by split testing it with, you know, your email campaigns, your SMS campaigns.
Kenny Soto 9:31
Now I’m going to ask for a specific scenario, how you would approach it because I have listeners who are asking for more direct advice, and as much as general advice that I asked with previous guests, so I have a listener who is trying to scale their bed and breakfast.
They use Airbnb, but they also have their own like personal website, and they want to use different chat, Not just their Instagram, but potentially Facebook Messenger, potentially LinkedIn, potentially Google ads? How would you go about creating a foundation for a bed and breakfast, where they can use a chat bot to help grow or at least engage with current customers?
Vince Benedetto 10:19
Current customers or potential customers?
Kenny Soto 10:23
Let’s start with potential and then we can go to current.
Vince Benedetto 10:26
Yeah, I think foundational for business like that. It’s really we try to get them to put together a list of FAQs that we can automate through a conversational bot, you know, like, what are your directions? Or do you guys have a gluten free menu, just all of these these questions out of nowhere, like, you know, try to get if possible 100 to 200 questions, and pre programmed, pre programmed that in the bot.
So someone could come to it, have a conversation, and ask all these questions that otherwise they would probably send an email and wait like 24 hours to get a response? Or call them and get stuck on hold? And then of course, from there, if they’re, if they’re questions on answer, if your questions not there, then you know, we push them to the to the channel, we can assign the conversation to a human being or push them to a phone number, or someone could actually click to call.
So I think that that would be the strongest foundation to start seeing some results quickly. And then you could sync it up with different tools, depending on your if you’re if you’re booking calendars online, and it has an open API, or you can integrate it with a Google Sheet, then you could very likely you could very well have people book, you know, book reservations through the bot. And I’ve actually booked like a plane ticket through but through Belarus. So it’s very possible.
Kenny Soto 11:46
And what are some considerations that you and your team think about when you’re creating a chatbot? Specifically, from the customers perspective? What are things that you are constantly having top of mind when you’re starting off?
Vince Benedetto 11:59
Yeah. So when we’re starting off, it’s really what are the KPIs? KPIs and what we call success criteria to messenger bot because some clients like they want it for brand awareness, and not for like driving sales.
And so it’s like, okay, like, what is brand awareness look like? How do we measure that? We had one client come to us saying, like they, they blew up with all kinds of business because of COVID. And their customer service, like payroll is $60,000 a month. And they’re like, We want to reduce it by 10%. This month. It’s like, okay, great.
So let’s focus on those success criteria. And so that’s every campaign, every strategy, that we’re going to be pushing out, we’re going to be going back to those KPIs and success criteria saying like, is this the most important, this is going to have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time?
Kenny Soto 12:49
Now, I’ve been asking questions that are more geared towards people who are business owners, and can benefit from considering automation and chat marketing. Let’s say I’m a digital marketer, and I want to learn more about automation and chat marketing. What resources do you leverage to learn more about the space and stay up to date?
Vince Benedetto 13:10
Yeah, so I think part of my success has, like, I’d say 80 90% of our business, maybe 80-70% now has been all through like partner programs. So I started my business becoming an Ontraport certified consultant. 98% of people have probably never heard of Ontraport. You know, you’ve heard of HubSpot. Infusionsoft.
But like, there’s a very real user base looking for help from experts. And like Ontraport, for example, was very invested in educating like people like me. And so they had a bootcamp. They had a certification course, they have training videos, they have exclusive channels. So that’s how I learned all about marketing automation.
And that’s how I got most of my business for the first two years. And then branched out into areas like if you want to learn more about messenger marketing, many chat is a big tool that allows you to build in Messenger SMS and email. But they have a free course. So yeah, I know some people learn better through just so you know, going on YouTube and search and stuff, but I need like a clear path, a clear track. And a lot of these Yeah, a lot of these up and coming systems and SAS products. They’ll have certification programs that you can go through.
Kenny Soto 14:26
What are specific tools that you think every entry level marketer who wants to learn more about automation and chat marketing should start looking at besides many chat and Ontraport?
Vince Benedetto 14:39
think mini chats all you need. Like we invested more like if you really want to become like a messenger marketing agency or just go headfirst into messenger marketing. School of bots is a great resource. It’s an investment but they like they do it well. And I’m not one who learns well online so for them to have taught me something of value. It’s, yeah, it’s a big feat.
Kenny Soto 15:04
Now we’re gonna diverge a little bit, but it’s still related to digital marketing. Both of us travel the world, and we are able to do so I believe, mainly because of the industry that we’re in. I want to know a little bit about why did you start traveling, and how did you fit your career into your need for travel?
Vince Benedetto 15:32
Yeah, great question. I guess growing up, like, we never traveled anywhere. And as soon as I turned 18, like I was going somewhere. And it really made my dad angry that I picked Russia for a month. Now, yeah, but since 18, I just have been traveling nonstop. And it makes me it makes me it made me appreciate the global talent pool. I think that’s allowed me to scale my business, because I realized that like talent is everywhere.
Like it doesn’t have to be in Portland, Oregon, or the US to find someone who’s like an experienced developer. And it’s really allowed me to bootstrap by looking at you know, talent is global talent is not localized. I don’t know, I guess I haven’t really thought about that I fit my career around this around traveling. It’s just sort of worked.
Kenny Soto 16:21
Yeah. And I’ve personally written some articles about how when you’re applying to a job, you have to consider the fact that you’re not only applying and competing against people in your local area, you could be potentially competing with everyone around the world. I want to know from a hiring perspective, what do you look for when you are trying to hire global talent?
Vince Benedetto 16:47
Yeah, any talent, what I look for, because I know I spent, like, I’m on Upwork. Like, that’s how I find some of my biggest clients. And vice versa, we hire off Upwork. And they spend a lot of time on a cover letter.
And that’s the number one thing I look for is a cover letter that actually shows that you read the job description, and you think you’re a fit. If, you know, if I send you an invite, and you’re you give me a one sentence cover letter like, Hey, thank you looking to talk, like declined. Or if you just copy and paste something like declined?
Yeah, and that’s probably pretty, pretty brutal. But yeah, you get a lot of applications. And that just does not stand out.
Kenny Soto 17:26
Do you have a notable example? Or a memory of cover letter that got you to move forward with the conversation and got someone hired?
Vince Benedetto 17:39
Yeah, so I’m not the best person to hire. So I’ve I’m not the best person to make the hiring decision. So I’ve removed myself from that for the past, like year or two, honestly. Because I would make the mistake of having one conversation and liking somebody and just stopping all the interviews. So got him. Yeah, I don’t know, if I’m the right person to ask him about that.
Kenny Soto 18:00
Well, let’s ask a different question. How do you go about managing a team of people that spans multiple time zones?
Vince Benedetto 18:12
Great question. So I think the first thing was finding capable managers. So like, I’m more of like an ideas person, I like to start things, I don’t do particularly well finishing things. And that’s not great from a management perspective. So for me, it was really important to hire both the project manager and a business manager that are generalists, and are good at managing people.
And so what we’ve done, I don’t think intentionally, maybe it’s just sort of happened. It’s, you know, all of our departments are sort of localized in our different countries. So like all of our developments out of Barcelona, like we have three to four or five developers that are there. And our graphic design team is in Argentina.
So I guess we’ve sort of kept it mainly in the Americas in Europe. So the time time change is not usually a problem. And in particular, with Spain, like they work really late. So yeah, they’re on working like tended to am sometimes and that’s just what they do.
Kenny Soto 19:19
Now, my last question for you, is more on a high level Sodor of perspective, where you’re looking at your career overall, if you can go back 10, 11, 12 years from today, with everything that you know, now and all the skills that you know, now, how would you 10x The speed of your career to get where you are faster?
Vince Benedetto 19:43
Yeah, I would have skipped college. That’s for sure. And I started called, I started college at 16 and have my MBA at 21. So I always was pretty fast at these things. But I think, yeah, more important than anything was these certifications that they’ve had people look at skills in what you can fix for them versus where you come from and like what you’re educated in.
Kenny Soto 20:05
I do have a follow up question. Now, you just mentioned that. So let’s say, because I personally have a lot of certifications, how do you promote the fact that you have these certifications? Do you just put it on your LinkedIn or your resume? Or is there more that happens after you actually get the certification?
Vince Benedetto 20:23
Yeah, I don’t promote that. So yeah, it’s an important question. So I look for certifications where they have a partner directory. And they promote because basically, like Ontraport, like, if you were a client, you’d look up like Ontraport experts and I have ontraport.com/experts in their I am.
So I look for certification programs that have a partner Listen, but also have like a high level of entry. Like anybody in their mother can become like, certified in Google or HubSpot, because it’s free. And there’s not really any sort of rigorous testing. So I don’t focus on those because I’m, I’m not going to get business unless I’m actively promoting those.
Kenny Soto 20:59
So one thing to keep in mind then would be if you are trying to hire someone who has certifications, looking for programs that are difficult to like, accomplish, like
Vince Benedetto 21:12
Ontraport, I had to go fly down to Santa Barbara for five days and pay $2,000 versus HubSpot, where you can just click on the Education tab and watch a video course take your test get a certification.
Kenny Soto 21:23
And on the flip side, it’s more valuable for a marketer to do something like Ontraport versus HubSpot, because it makes them stand out more correct.
Vince Benedetto 21:33
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s harder to Yeah, I mean, if you look up HubSpot experts who probably find a couple 1000, whereas like the Ontraport, expert basis, I think around 150, so just less competition.
Kenny Soto 21:48
I like that I like ending on this note, just so that there’s something for everyone to think about. If anyone wants, If anyone wants to connect with you online, where could they find you?
Vince Benedetto 22:01
You can find me at automatedstreams.com And we have a conversational bot that pops up so we can have a conversation on there.
Kenny Soto 22:10
Perfect. You just listened to another episode of Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast. You just listened to more information on chat marketing and automation. Thank you, Vince for being on the show. And thank you to the listener. I hope you have a great week.