Cognizant’s Michele Pace Explains the Importance of Marketing Innovation

by Heidi Bullman

Marketing innovation is critical for success; any modern marketer would agree. Yet, the influence of the pandemic has prompted many companies to innovate their content and delivery all at the same time, creating an overly saturated marketplace. The key is cracking the code on how to stand out to customers and prospects amidst a sea of similar messages. To better understand the importance of marketing innovation and how it can be done successfully, we sat down with industry expert, Michele Pace, senior marketing manager for Cognizant.

Here’s what she had to share about marketing innovation and effective ways to approach it:

Modern Marketing Today (MMT): Thanks for joining us, Michele. Could you tell us about your career and your current role at Cognizant?

Michele Pace (MP): Thanks for having me. I am a Senior Marketing Manager, covering the banking, financial services, and insurance sectors at Cognizant where I focus on driving thought leadership initiatives. I have a blended background having come from a career in theater. This has helped me become an active storyteller that benefits me greatly now as a marketer. For me, in any role, it’s always been about creating the right messaging, delivering it in a way that resonates, and above all, remaining innovative.

MMT: Why is it so important for marketers to innovate in how they share their message?

MP: First and foremost, innovation leads to revenue. In terms of messaging and delivery, if you continue to do what you’ve always done, growth is hindered. And if you’re not growing, then you’re not creating new forms of revenue. That’s a top reason why innovation is so important.

When determining how to innovate, it’s critical for marketers to think outside of the box. They also must recognize that there’s no perfect formula for innovation. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another. The key is to think with an entrepreneurial spirit, consider who you’re communicating with, and answer how thinking outside of the box can better reach them.

MMT: How does innovation connect engagement to demand?

MP: First, it’s important to understand that you need all three components — innovation, engagement, and demand — to be successful. You use innovation, and innovative technologies, to connect with your target audience. If you’re able to connect via innovation it leads to engagement and from there, you’re able to drive demand.

MMT: In what ways are you working to drive marketing innovation at Cognizant?

MP: Because of the pandemic, everything has changed. With everyone working from home now, the digital space is crowded now more than ever before. Everybody is writing and putting content out there – the key is to identify your differentiator in a saturated marketplace.

The way I’m working to drive innovation at Cognizant is by focusing on the intention of my work. This goes back to simple marketing principles like knowing your audience. It’s important to ask questions including, “Who are the clients or prospects we want to talk to?” and “What are the topics that are going to create conversations with these people and as a result, drive decisions?”

Another marketing basic that can be easy to forget is to simply listen. Amid a global pandemic, one of the worst mistakes a marketer can make is pushing a product without listening. Insensitivity can have a terrible impact on customer perspectives in the long run. Not only does it ignore the target audience’s wants and needs but it demonstrates an inability and unwillingness to meet them where they’re at or truly understand the problem they’re trying to solve.

MMT: What are the risks of innovation? Can you name a few best practices for managing or mitigating those risks?

MP: In terms of risks of innovation, one of the things to be mindful of is that you don’t want to saturate the market even more than it already is. Currently, a lot of companies are working to refresh their messages and how they deliver content, and it’s important to not get lost in that noise. When people start to hear a lot of sounds from difference places, they stop paying attention. How many times can you tolerate hearing the same thing?

This all goes back to listening and making sure that the content you’re putting out there, via the appropriate channels, is worth hearing. In my position, to mitigate risk, I’m making sure the content my team is curating is important to the audience and disseminated on the channels that make the most sense. Here at Cognizant, we’re not just a part of the noise – our messages are loud and clear.

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