When it comes to job descriptions, Erika Napoletano has hers down pat. “I help businesses get unstuck,” she says in her crisp, matter-of-fact tone. “Every business out there has this annoying problem that keeps them from getting from where they are to the level of awesome that they want to be. I am the person who gets to come in and help them work for that.”
Napoletano is open about the fact that she doesn’t have any high-profile titles to boast of, but the conviction she has in her voice may be enough to convince brands and businesses to put their faith in her branding consulting firm, RHW Media. While her clients come from a variety of backgrounds, she has a consistent plan in helping each of them develop and maintain relationships with customers and clients.
The approach Napoletano takes definitely doesn’t conform to the norm—while most companies holler and hope that the crowd listens to them, she advises companies to go against the tide and not try so hard to be popular. Instead, she wants brands to focus on attracting and engaging customers who actually want what they offer by being honest about themselves and telling the world who they are and what they want to be.
“Brands need to get out there and have opinions and have a personality as well,” Napoletano explains. “And when you do that, you do one really powerful thing for your audience—you stop wasting their time. Because you tell them upfront and you tell them often: here’s who we are, here’s what we believe, and if you want to stay, that’s great! If you don’t, fantastic; thanks for stopping by.”
These are the principles that Napoletano extols in her latest book, the appropriately titled “The Power of Unpopular.” In it, she argues that all wildly successful companies have their own share of detractors, but the reason these brands continue to make money is simply because they choose to cater to an audience that actually appreciates what they do instead of worrying about being “unpopular” with another set.
Napoletano also wants companies to better target their marketing activities, instead of having it all over the place. “I call it the ‘spray and pray,’” she says. “They spray their message everywhere and they pray that somebody will respond. But, what they should be doing is going to pistol target shooting practice. They should be taking the .22 caliber pistol in a target range and aiming for that bull’s-eye.”
In a world where companies are clamoring for “likes” and “followers” for their brands, Napoletano’s advice for brands comes like a breath of fresh air. That might also explain the popularity of her blog, RedheadWriting, for which she has been writing for since 2006 on topics as varied as ways on how to build a business to her “Bitch Slap” series, where she publicly raps the knuckles of those who behave badly.
With such an impressive roster of truths, practices and beliefs to share, Napoletano’s upcoming session at the ad:tech conference promises to be an extremely informative and, perhaps more importantly, entertaining one. She’ll be leading an hourlong session entitled “Social Commerce: How to Grow Sales, Increase Loyalty & Improve Customer Service” Nov. 8, 2012 at 2.45 p.m.
The session, which will also feature contributions from a panel containing representatives from L’Occitane, Dunkin Donuts and other companies, promises to explain and discuss various social tools and campaigns that have actually helped companies drive both direct and indirect sales to themselves. Napoletano promises attendees a great learning session that will be fun, interactive and stimulating.
And we also have to admit—Napoletano’s promise does look like something that she can effectively deliver. Her recent talk at TEDx Boulder, Colorado, called “Rethinking Unpopular,” received a thunderous applause when it was completed, and the 16-minute video of the same has amassed over 13,000 views (and counting) in the 10 days since it went online—it’s a clip worth watching for a preview on what to expect at ad:tech.
To learn more about Erika Napoletano, check out her site: http://www.erikanapoletano.com. Her session at ad: tech will be followed by a book-signing of her latest work, “The Power of Unpopular.”
This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.