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Choose Your Own Marketing Adventure: Erika Napoletano on Facing Challenges and Getting Creative

by Verónica Jarski  |  
March 21, 2013

Here at MarketingProfs, we're hard at work pulling together the final agenda for our B2B Forum 2013 this fall. We couldn't do it without the insight of a select group of trailblazers in the B2B marketing space. Some of those advisers we are highlighting here, in a series of interviews centered around this year's B2B Forum theme, "Marketing is full of choices."

Now through the event kickoff in October, we'll occasionally feature those Q&As on the Daily Fix, so you'll get plenty of tips and insights about the adventure known as B2B marketing.

Our first Q&A guest from the B2B Forum 2013 is Erika Napoletano. In Erika's own words, she is "a snarky speaker, strategist, author, and columnist, hailed by Forbes as a 'spinless spin doctor' for her BS-free perspectives on business, marketing, branding, and life in general. She's a twice-published author, including The Power of Unpopular (Wiley 2012), a columnist for both Entrepreneur Magazine and OPEN Forum, an acclaimed speaker from TEDx Boulder2012, and speaks at conferences across the U.S. on the inherent power of truth in business… or as she refers to it, the power of unpopularity."

1. What do you do to get inspired?

I leave behind everything that's comfortable. Nothing awesome has ever happened when I've been comfortable! Maybe it's picking up a new book, going to a place I've never been... Hell, some days, I just trawl and start watching videos of talks I've never seen. The other thing I do on a regular basis is ask my audience a question. Their responses have prompted some of the best ideas for "what's next" I've ever had. Some are so good I could only wish I'd come up with them! Editor's note: If you haven't seen Erika's TedTalk, it's also plenty inspiring. It's embedded here:

2. What challenge have you faced lately, and how did you choose to resolve it?

Staying true to the kind of business I want to be doing, even when money's looking me in the eye. It's hard---especially when it's business that I used to take in a heartbeat. The best resource for me when these situations arise is to reach out to one of my Front Stabbers---the colleagues I have who will be honest with me without fail---and ask them for their thoughts. Every time, they remind me of the work I want to be doing and keep me from straying in the name of dollar signs.

How do you break through a creative block?

EN: I'm a walk-awayer. When something has me stuck, I leave it alone for an hour. A day. Sometimes, a week or month. I've usually found that when something's not working---like a blog post, an article, a story, a strategy---I'm trying to solve the wrong problem. The funny thing is that half the time, I never come back to this thing that's turned into a stick in my craw. I find another solution or better yet, realize that I was solving the wrong problem and start solving the right one. I do this for my clients every day, but damn, it's hard for your own business, isn't it?

How has your marketing changed this year?

EN: I'd been "RedheadWriting" forever. I had a blog and all of the awesome ways I've made my living were pretty much on the down-low. So, starting in October I built a team of three: my favorite Front Stabber, a web designer, and a web developer, and we set out to conquer my rebranding. It was time for me to become Erika. It was time for me to let people see all of the cool stuff I get to do with my life and how they can be a part of it if they'd like. As a result of this four month-long process, we (and I really do mean WE) launched on March 4. You spent SuperBowl Sunday watching football. I spent it debugging a website that was launching the next day! The process reinforced something I've lived every day in life and business---I can't do this alone. And now, I have a new brand presence online that matches the life I love living offline! Talk about a ballsy move---letting people see "me"---but the best business decision I've ever made.

What marketing tactic would you choose if you could only have one?

EN: My audience, every day, hands-down, and without fail. Without them, I don't have a business, and it's my job to honor them every single day. They're my feet on the street, my voice in the forest, and the best marketing "tool" I could ever hope to have. They help me reach more people than I could ever hope to reach on my own. Their voices span every political affiliation, sexual orientation, business ideology, and gender---so you can bet your ass I'd take them over any other "tactic"!

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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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  • by Barry Feldman Fri Mar 22, 2013 via blog

    I hope Erika doesn't go all stupid on me because I'm all in. Loved her book. Love that TedTalk and pay close attention to her because she makes it work: integrity, honesty, humility, humor, and simple balls to the wall real marketing. Smart bitch.

    Fun interview Veronica. Should be a cool series.

  • by Erika Napoletano (@RedheadWriting) Fri Mar 22, 2013 via blog

    I do promise to not go all stupid on you :) I usually go stupid on myself!

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