Hey, thanks for tuning in to another Partner Spotlight interview at OutsourceSchool.
My name is Connor Gillivan. I’m the CMO and an Owner of Outsource School.
We’re on a mission to help 10,000+ business owners master hiring virtual assistants and freelancers, and industry partnerships is a big way that we’re able to make it happen.
We’re all about creating win-win partnerships where we are able to grow with other companies in the eCommerce, agency, SAAS, and online space.
In this exclusive interview, we have a conversation with Chris Benetti from Smart Author Media.
Chris Benetti owns Smart Author Media and is an expert in book marketing.
To date, Chris has helped his clients collectively generate over $20,000,000 in sales from their books & backend offers, and In the past 12 months, Chris has sold over 20,472 books for his clients.
Connor: Hey Chris, thanks for taking the time to chat with us here. We love getting to know our partners better so that our community can benefit from what our partners are offering and doing in the industry. To get started, can you give us a high level overview of Smart Author Media and how it got started?
Chris: Smart Author Media was started because I saw a need for the author marketplace and I just found that there were a lot of marketers who were helping with one-time or campaign-based events – things, like best-seller status or launch campaigns of their books. But the authors were underserviced on the ongoing marketing of their books – the ongoing of their assets essentially. So what I found was that they were essentially reliant on marketplaces for selling their books.
I saw that opportunity and came into the space with a different lens. My services came to include Amazon marketing.
The way that I differ, though, is that I offer Facebook Ads and funnel setup. So I’m much more of a direct-response book marketer where we’ll actually help you sell books but then we’ll also simultaneously help you build a list of customers that you can continue to market to.
Connor: Love that! Can you dive a bit more into how you help business owners sell more books? I’m sure our audience would love to know exactly what problems you could solve for them.
Chris: I already alluded to the fact that we are a little bit different in how we set up and manage campaigns. I’m primarily a full-stack business owner and as it comes to book marketing, I’ve got the lens of how we can make the ads and the funnels work seamlessly together and follow up as well.
My clients, by the way, are not just authors. I’ve actually niched it into business owners who have books because I’ve found that even non-fiction authors don’t necessarily have a good purpose for their book that can help lead to revenue.
And so for me, I made sure that I’m working with business owners because business owners have books for their business, and their books lead to being able to generate more income for their business.
That then ties back into me and it helps them stay on for longer because I can help better results and make more money with their books.
Going back to my services, we handle everything from the ads, funnels, to the follow-up emails so that everything is holistic. We are basically controlling everything to the point that if the ads stop working, we can test new ads. If the funnel stops working, we can test a new headline, we can test a new offer.
We will do everything so that the campaign as a whole is effective and ultimately leads to you getting more sales with your core offer in your business.
We do put offers in the process in the book funnel so that we can help offset the ad spend that we do spend on acquiring a new book buyer, but that’s something that’s more in-depth.
Generally speaking, my goal is to help alleviate as much of the ad spend as possible and then drive those new book buyers into becoming leads for my client’s business so that they can make a lot of money on the backend.
Connor: Jumping off of that…if there was one problem you’d say that Smart Author Media solves best for your clients, what would it be? Why?
Chris: The biggest problem that we solve is getting your book out there in a leveraged way. When you think about the process of selling books, you can either put it on Amazon and hope that the algorithm takes it off, which is something that you really just don’t have control over. There’s leverage there, though.
Alternatively, you can proactively go ahead and tell friends about it.
You can post about it on your socials and hope that you can get some virality with your organic marketing strategies and sell books that way.
You can get it in bookstores and hope that it sells that way as well.
You can go ahead and do book tours and things like that.
There’s a lot of things that you can do as an author that can help you sell your books, but they’re not necessarily leveraged and some of them you can have control over, but on a lot of them you don’t.
Whereas when you come back to the barebones of selling books, the way that we help is we help sell books with leverage and control, and the only way to do that is with advertising. So our business is really built off on:
“How can we advertise on Amazon so that we can control the process of selling books?” We can sell more books with that.
“How can we advertise on Facebook with funnels so that we can control the process of people buying books through Facebook and other social ad platforms?” And we can also take that new buyer and make them a lead for your business.
Ultimately, the way that we help is by selling books with leverage and control which then leads to you having leads for you and your business, which again is where you make the bulk of your money from.
Connor: As the company continues to grow over the next year, what are your plans for expansion? Any new products or offerings or enhancements to your current products?
Chris: That’s a fantastic question. I would say that as we grow, we want our clients to grow with us. So the enhancements to the core services that we have is to have our clients spend more money with us. That obviously allows us to take on a little bit more risk with the campaigns but get paid a little bit more. If they’re spending more with us, they’re getting more results with the selling of the books, with the backend revenue that they’re generating, which then allow me to get rewarded in that circumstance.
Expansions for the team. We basically build our team in the sense of ‘pods’. So essentially if we have a new ads manager coming on, then that ads manager typically needs a graphic designer, a video editor. We bundle those together.
As we expand the team we’ll be looking at what pods we can bring on so that we can continue to grow and make sure that our clients’ needs are being fulfilled.
Now coming back to potential products and services, I like to keep our delivery simple, and so the way that I can think about adding on the expansion of our services is to add marketing to different platforms.
Currently, our main focus is Facebook, we would then go to TikTok as a source and so on and so forth. But at this stage, what I’m really to now get on is a repeatable process for getting results for our clients and it’s too hard to go wide in the beginning.
It’s much better to just start with one platform and as we see success for that platform, or at least maturation, we can then go to other platforms and get results there for our clients.
Connor: And how specifically would you say that Smart Author Media and your team is different from other similar businesses in the industry?
Chris: At the end of the day, we are specialists at marketing books. There’s a ton of different agencies who will market books but they’re not specialists. So the real way that we differentiate ourselves is just by specializing and going deep on doing one type of campaign. Each book campaign might be different for each client: we might just do a free giveaway of a digital book, we may charge a low price for a digital book, we may do a higher priced physical book or even a bundle across the board.
So the front end offer is different but the campaigns remain the same across the board per client. Because we can go very specialized, we don’t need massive amounts of clients to understand exactly what’s working in that specific vertical.
With other agencies, they’re doing a dozen different types of campaigns, if not more, across a dozen clients and it’s very hard for them to know what moves to make next for that specific campaign unless they get experience over time for that.
With us, we are specialized and we don’t take on clients outside of the ‘business owner who has a book’ niche, and so that allows us to go very deep and understand what moves to make when things aren’t working.
Connor: What’s your outsourcing story? We find that everyone has a different experience when outsourcing and hiring online. What is your first memory that comes to mind?
Chris: Outsourcing is actually something that I’m a big proponent of and I started this business with a VA right away. All of my team is in the Philippines. For me, my earliest memory is essentially having leverage on the services that I can provide. And the cool thing about VAs and me utilizing them from day one was that I saw other people who are providers, doing funnels and other services, doing all of the work for themselves. For me, I basically was the puppet master. I could go and say “cool, new client. Let’s hand them to the designer. The designer can work on designing the sales page based on the criteria that the strategics had in mind, then move that along to building up that asset.”
I was actually able to create a process around how we deliver work for clients and how we are able to leverage ourselves and take on far more projects than someone. That allowed me to work with big names in the industry and get the results for them.
Connor: Love it! Talking more about outsourcing, what advice would you give to yourself if you were just about to start outsourcing and hiring online?
Chris: This is awesome. I actually just hired a media buyer and I hired them on onlinejobs.ph. So for me there’s a process that I have in mind now when I’m hiring VAs, and this is something that I learned from my mentor who had an outsourcing agency in the past and has a team of 40 Filipinos working for him across ads management, video and podcast editing, project management, basically everything.
The process is you post a job on onlinejobs.ph and you get the VA to apply on your website. You don’t take applicants on the platform. That is basically a shortcut to applicants for being lazy, copy-pasting stuff and not putting much thought into their applications. It allows you to take control and get the applicants to move over to your own CRM if you’re hiring new team members.
From there, I vetted each one: resume, cover letter, salary expectations, etc., then I did a sorting. In the system that I used, I had priority flags: red being urgent, yellow being high, blue being low, etc. I saw the people who were good fits based on the criteria and why they’re leaving their current role. I then graded them based on their experience and whether they’re highly desirable for my company.
From about 50-60 applicants, there were only about 5 who were red, 10 people who were yellow, and about 40 people who were blue. Based on that, I was basically able to sift through them — “Here are my top 15 people, let’s send them a test”.
The test is very specific on what you would have them do on a daily basis with your company. As I was looking for a media buyer at the time, I gave them a few different tasks that were quite simple:
“Here’s a book. What detailed targeting would you use for this on Facebook?”
“Find me five other competitive ads that are similar to this industry and why you think they worked”
“Show me through a client’s campaign that you saw success on and why you think it was successful.”
Once I had reviewed their responses, I then offered them an interview. If they communicated well in the interview and if they were personable, I gave them a trial offer.
The trial offer was basically us working together for one week with the expected salary. You don’t do this for just one person – you do this for the top two. You’ll find that there’s a huge difference between them just based on communication, skill set, strategizing, etc. I spent one week for the first and another for the second candidate, and it took me only three days working with the second candidate to know that they were a much better fit for me.
That’s basically the full process I use for hiring an outsourced team member.
Connor: How about this one…how do you communicate with the people you hire online? What’s your best practices there and how has it changed over time?
Chris: I would say that I primarily use two different tools.
ClickUp is a project management software. We have all of our clients’ tasks in there. Whenever something needs to be done, I always have my team members for the specific tasks that need to be done. They’ll be created under the main client task and assigned to the person who needs to do it. This serves as the central place where all the tasks happen, they’re assigned to people with specific due dates so that people know who’s responsible and when it’s due. Sometimes we’ll set priorities as well.
We then use Slack for communication with the clients. If there’s a bit of back and forth for something specific for them, we can just do that on Slack. Any updates that aren’t task-specific are communicated there as well. We also do open conversational communication with the team there, one-on-one or when the team needs to communicate over a project.
So how did that change over time? This is interesting because I used to be pretty bad at communication. We primarily always used Slack but we didn’t effectively use project management software. I used to do a lot of one-on-one, back-and-forth kind of communication with the team, especially since the team was small and it just wasn’t an effective way to work.
As the team has now grown, it’s been very important to me that the tasks are put into ClickUp with all the parameters, and that people are notified on that so that we all know what’s going on and what needs to be done.
Connor: Finally, this is one that I think our community will love, who’s been your best online hire? What do they do for you? Why are they your best hire? Tell us all about them and that story!
Chris: This is interesting because I would say that my best hire was actually my second hire. My first hire was a funnel builder, and he basically was my final assistant. My agency used to be a funnel-building design agency and so my first hire was like my right-hand man in getting stuff done.
As I expanded the business and needed more help, I actually asked my first team member to recommend me someone as my second team member, then I tried to brute force my second team member into being a funnel guy.
We actually had a lot of clashing about that because he wasn’t well suited for that role.
He’s more technical and just doesn’t understand the structure of funnel builders plus design. I tried to force someone into a role they were not a good fit for and that is just based on me having a very poor understanding of how I should hire team members and the best ways to go about that.
Over the next year or two, we actually had a lot of clashing and I moved into different roles across the business.
I wanted to keep him more on because for the first few hires, they kind of hold a special spot in your heart. You don’t want to let team members go, you want to make sure that you’re able to help support families and all that kind of stuff.
What ended up happening was he actually excelled at a few different things. He basically took the management of a $6000 per month client from me needing to do 90% of the work to just 10%.
Apart from that, he also excelled at updating membership platforms and very precisely as well. He also stepped into the role of editing my Smart Author video podcast and he actually is the best video editor I’ve ever worked with.
It came from a hire that I was extremely with for 2 years purely because I had him in the wrong role. He’s absolutely fantastic and he’s been my best hire, I would say.
Connor: As we close this out, I just have one more question. Where is the best place to find and follow you and the company online? Also, if you have one, is there any special offer that you’ll be offering to the community today?
Chris: The best place to follow and find me is on Facebook, Chris Benetti.
Then of course Smart Author Media is my website. On YouTube, you can follow the Smart Author podcast. It’s where I host my podcast and any other additional-value videos that I have on what we’re doing and helping business owners/authors with online.
If you want to email me firstname.lastname@example.org is the best place.
Regarding offers, I don’t have any offers but I absolutely am here to help anyone who is in need of some marketing advice for their book and/or wants to hire me of course, you can go to my website.
Thank you for your time today, it’s been an absolute pleasure.