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The B2B marketing landscape is a complex and evolving space, with unique challenges and opportunities. Navigating it effectively requires thoughtful strategies and insightful tactics. With many digital channels available, what are the best ways to connect, engage, and convert potential business clients? As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Neapolitan.

Megan Neapolitan

Megan Neapolitan

Megan Neapolitan is Chief Operating Officer at FOVNDRY, an integrated communications agency that builds and amplifies brands through smart branding, PR, marketing, and creative initiatives that meld to drive impact.

 

Megan is an agency veteran, supporting the development and execution of brand and communications strategies for state, regional, and national organizations — including Volkswagen and Audi of America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Disney Corporate Alliances, Lincoln Property Company, and more. As FOVNDRY’s COO, Megan sits at the nexus of all internal and external operations, overseeing systems, resources, and outputs to ensure maximum efficacy. Megan holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising from The Pennsylvania State University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! To begin, can you share a bit of your personal backstory and how you got started? 

I’ve always known I wanted to pursue a career in business and communications. Drawn to both creative expression and the psychology behind human behavior, I graduated from Penn State with bachelor’s degrees each in marketing and advertising and joined a small B2B marketing agency in Alexandria, VA, before landing an account service role at HZ, a prominent DC-area ad agency. There, I managed high-profile, high-production accounts like Volkswagen After Sales and VW CPO, as well as startups, and gained exposure to strategic concepting for Disney Corporate Alliances. My roles spanned project management, marketing strategy, marketing mentorship, and more, giving me a comprehensive grasp of both B2C and B2B communications, as well as the essentials of effective agency operations, cross-departmental collaboration, and team management.

In 2020, I felt a pull to challenge myself and pursue a new opportunity where I could use all my passions and experiences on a deeper level. My collaboration with Laura Van Eperen, founder and CEO of a reputable, woman-owned PR firm formerly known as Van Eperen, marked a significant chapter in my journey. Laura had a vision of providing greater service to her clients through the infusion of marketing and creative services into her proven PR practice. I joined the team in a contract role as Director of Operations and Client Services, building essential systems and processes, and overseeing creative and marketing accounts. By the end of the same year, we made the position permanent; and in spring 2021, we relaunched as an integrated agency — FOVNDRY. 

Today, as FOVNDRY's COO, I oversee a myriad of responsibilities that facilitate efficient and effective collaboration and outputs, as well as guide external brand strategies and client relationships — all aimed at driving mutual success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you’re grateful for?

People often joke to me that they couldn't work with their spouse. And yes, living, parenting, carpooling, and working day in and day out with the same person can certainly be a challenge. But I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am today without my husband and FOVNDRY’s Creative Director, Jase Neapolitan. 

We met early on in my career; Jase is a graphic designer and we both were assigned to support the Volkswagen account at our prior agency. I was a new account executive working for the first time in a true cross-functional environment and had such respect and admiration for creatives and their craft. It wasn’t enough for me to put in briefs and serve as a middle woman between our internal and client teams—I wanted to be part of the creative process and was deeply curious about the “how” and the “why” behind everything we did and delivered. 

Working side by side for 8 years, Jase helped me hone my creative thinking—teaching me not just what questions to ask, but why they mattered and how to interpret the answers into ideas. We challenged and pushed each other constantly, and both learned a lot about ourselves (and car parts) along the way. That working relationship is what launched my love for strategy and ultimately inspired me to pursue the next stage in my career where I could live that passion daily. More than a decade later as I’ve taken on and grown in my role at FOVNDRY, Jase has been there through it all. Not only as my husband and father to our children, but as my professional cheerleader, sounding board, and counterpart. Personal biases aside, he’s one of the most talented creative professionals I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from.

What is your favorite life lesson quote, and how has it been relevant to you in your life? 

It’s not a quote, but rather a visual depiction of the Growth Mindset. To me, a Growth Mindset is about how you perceive and approach challenges. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone—to avoid situations where you feel safe, confident, and in control. But growth occurs when you embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and gain new skills and knowledge. It’s not about luck or optimism. It’s intentional and takes risk, hard work, and persistence. And with every challenge you tackle or new skill you acquire, you expand your comfort zone and your ability to overcome new challenges that come your way.

I have a graphic of the Growth Mindset zones—comfort, fear, learning, and growth—framed and hanging next to my desk in my office. It’s a reminder that discomfort and uncertainty are natural and essential components of personal growth.

What are three strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves? 

I’d have to say curiosity, open-mindedness, and adept communication. I’m innately curious, constantly seeking out and absorbing new information. I view a lack of understanding or experience in something as an invitation and drive to learn. And I’m genuinely excited and inspired by new ideas.

In my quest for knowledge, I aim to be open-minded and empathetic. My mentor once told me that there are three sides to every story—yours, mine, and the truth that lies somewhere in the middle. It really resonated with me, and so I approach situations understanding that every narrative has multiple facets, and that it’s critical to view things from diverse perspectives.

And lastly, being an effective communicator—clearly conveying ideas, actively listening, and tailoring my communication styles to varied audiences—has been paramount. It’s the foundation for connection, which is one of my most crucial and rewarding roles.

For those looking to cultivate these traits, my advice is simple: Read and consume as much content as you can get your hands on. Immersing yourself in different styles and perspectives can be truly transformative.

Which skills are you still trying to grow now?

Personal branding. It’s ironic the number of communications professionals who are exceptional at promoting others but struggle to do it for themselves. It’s an area outside of my current comfort zone, but a work in progress as I define my niche and uncover the most authentic way to share my voice. I’ve been inspired by numerous professionals who use their platforms to share knowledge and expertise and hope to do the same with my own passions and experiences.

How do you perceive the current landscape of B2B marketing?

There’s a lot of uncertainly—and even more opportunity. It’s no surprise that the B2B landscape has undergone some serious changes over the past few years with the infusion of automated tools—and of course, AI. There has, rightfully, been some trepidation among marketers and content creators regarding the impact on the industry and the future of our careers. We’ve seen it in the uptick of programmatic advertising over manual optimization, the use of chat bots on websites over customer support specialists, and the overwhelming surge in the sheer volume of ChatGPT-produced content.

But there’s also been an impressive rise to the challenge among industry pros, with tools, platforms, and people embracing AI as a force multiplier for creativity and results. Faster mining of data and automation of internal workflows and processes, for example, enable marketing professionals to focus more of their energy on employing their most valuable assets—human insights and expertise. 

Despite all this change, one thing remains constant: Authenticity and relationships can make or break success in B2B marketing. While many ride the trend of mass-producing automated content as a means for generating leads, those who leverage their expertise to build and nurture true connections will succeed.

How have recent market trends and changes influenced your approach to outperforming competitors?

Economic uncertainty and fluctuating outlooks on business spending have certainly had an impact on marketing budgets. As an agency, we understand these concerns and encourage clients to double down on three critical areas: Brand, strategy, and organic thought-leadership content. Unlike paid media spends that can be costly and fleeting, these pillars provide lasting value—fostering genuine connections and trust and sustaining audience engagement for long-term success.

B2B buying cycles can often be lengthy and complex. How do you maintain engagement and nurture leads throughout the various stages of the buyer's journey?

Consistently demonstrating genuine interest in addressing the challenges your prospects face is paramount. While much of marketing can be promotional and transactional, emphasizing surface-level benefits, it's essential to remember that decision-makers are individuals influenced by emotions and aspirations. By maintaining a consistent cadence of valuable content—whether via emails, webinars, blogs, or social platforms—you not only educate but also solidify your organization's position as trusted experts, establishing a relationship and elevating your position in their consideration set.

Rapid Fire Question Round

Rapid Fire Question Round

What is the most valuable marketing software in your tech stack? Our CRM for connecting sales + marketing; and Asana for internal project management.

What other company or CMO are you admiring right now? Chris Do, Founder & CEO, The Futur — inspiring, actionable advice for creative professionals.

What single piece of advice would you give to aspiring CMOs? Never stop learning.

What are you reading right now? Radical Candor (for the 2nd time).

What product, tool, or service do you wish existed? A pause button! For work and life.

Personalization is gaining prominence in B2B marketing. What are some ways marketers can effectively leverage data to deliver personalized experiences?

To create an effective personalization strategy, it’s crucial to segment audiences and build personas. Even among niche and finely tuned audiences, individual buyers have unique considerations and preferences. Categorizing prospects based on things like demographics is great, but by segmenting based on behaviors, needs, and decision-making patterns, you can pinpoint specific pain points and preferences and craft messages that truly resonate—leading to more meaningful engagements and conversions.

ABM has also gained traction for its personalized approach to targeting high-value accounts. What advice would you give to fellow B2B marketers looking to adopt this strategy?

Adopting an ABM strategy requires a shift in mindset, particularly in how we view the traditional boundaries between marketing and sales. One of the most crucial pieces of advice I'd offer is to actively bridge the gap between these two functions. High-value accounts aren't just another sales opportunity; they require a nuanced approach. It's imperative to provide these prospects with content that brings genuine value, addressing their specific challenges and needs. By fostering collaboration between marketing and sales, you can ensure your messaging is consistent, insightful, and tailored to the unique characteristics of each target account.

Based on your experience and success, what are your 5 tips to improve your B2B Marketing strategy?

1. Conduct external stakeholder interviews or surveys to get to know your target audiences on a deeper level. Beyond internal perceptions and surface-level audience data, tapping into mindsets, pain points, and insights can help you connect on an aspirational level vs. transactional. Your current customers are an ideal place to start.

2. Optimize your brand both internally and externally. Clearly articulate your core values and unique selling points, ensuring that internal practices mirror external communications. For example, a company that promotes innovation in its external value proposition should equally celebrate and incentivize innovative thinking within.

3. Prioritize solutions over platforms. Instead of diving headfirst into the latest channel or trend, understand your audience's core needs, and what you’re looking to achieve. If building relationships is a priority, focus on tailored, valuable content. Then, select content marketing platforms that align with this approach, ensuring every marketing tool or channel serves a strategic purpose. When it comes to your marketing stack, think quality over quantity.

4. Connect across the full user experience. Decisions aren’t made via a single touchpoint, but rather through numerous interactions across channels and platforms. Consider the full journey of the customer and build a holistic and cohesive strategy that meets them where they are to drive them through the funnel toward action. 

5. Get dynamic with your content. Your audience isn’t one size fits all, so your message shouldn’t be, either. Build audience personas, then customize your message based on their unique needs. Using dynamic content and platforms, you can create communications at scale while still personalizing for your unique audiences, and A/B test what’s working and what’s not.

How do you utilize data or AI to refine your B2B marketing approach, and what tools have been particularly impactful in gaining a competitive advantage?

Every week, it seems there's a new AI-powered tool—there’s a lot to keep up with! In my experience, I’ve found AI to be most valuable in conducting research to inform strategy and messaging. Through social listening tools and consumer intelligence tools like Brandwatch, we glean insights into brand sentiment, trends, and emerging themes, enabling us to craft content that’s both timely and relevant.

For search engine optimization (SEO), SEMrush and Ahrefs help us quickly analyze competitors’ content strategies to uncover gaps and opportunities for our clients to break through. And there’s a multitude of free, platform-native SEO reporting tools for analyzing and reporting marketing and campaign effectiveness in real time. Combined with human experiences and smart creative, this access to data empowers us to build and execute more informed and impactful strategies.

Which digital channels have you found most effective in reaching your target audience, and how do you optimize your presence across these channels to outshine competitors?

The effectiveness of a digital channel often hinges on the alignment between the target audience and the content's value, rather than just the channel itself. That said, channels like email and LinkedIn that highlight and amplify thought leadership prove most impactful. Meeting B2B audiences where they are and directing them to more comprehensive resources like blogs, contributed articles, webinars, or podcasts, these channels empower businesses to tangibly demonstrate their expertise and depth. To further optimize these efforts, ensure a cohesive brand voice, maintain consistency across all platforms, and establish clear paths to conversion.

Are there any underrated skills or qualities that you encourage others not to overlook?

Self-awareness and humility—being able to take a step back and look at our own behavior objectively, to accept criticism and feedback in a constructive manner, and to move forward with dignity and integrity. Both in and outside of the workplace, these qualities serve as the foundation for effective communication, strong leadership, meaningful relationships, and personal growth.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the most people, what would that be? 

If I could champion a movement, it would be to prioritize mental health, particularly within the workplace and among women and mothers. The drive to constantly climb the career ladder and gracefully navigate challenges often carries an underacknowledged emotional toll. This is particularly evident when considering the alarming rates of postpartum depression and anxiety among women—issues that are often intensified by societal stigmas surrounding mental health.

By providing tangible resources and comprehensive mental health training for workplace leaders, this movement would aim to dismantle the stigma and create an environment where emotional and psychological well-being are prioritized, enabling everyone to thrive both personally and professionally.

Lastly, is there a person with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? They might just see this! 

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble. She’s a mom, a CEO, a leader, and an advocate for women—shattering glass ceilings while holding her baby on her hip. I was both proud and impressed when she became the youngest female CEO to take a major U.S. company public a few years ago, making a massive statement for women and fellow working moms everywhere.   

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Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.