Dun & Bradstreet CMO Rishi Dave Talks Marketing Transformation

Former Dell Exec Brings Marketing Tech, Content Strategy to 173-Year-Old Company

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Rishi Dave was named CMO at Dun & Bradstreet in February -- the first CMO in recent history at the financial services company, and one of the first major hires by Bob Carrigan, the former CEO of IDG Communications who was appointed president-CEO of D&B last September.

Mr. Dave, who previously served as executive director-digital marketing for the b-to-b business at Dell, is bringing his skills in social media, content marketing and mobile to transform the 173-year-old company's marketing team into a more digitally focused organization.

Rishi Dave
Rishi Dave

One of his first moves was selecting Droga5, New York, as creative agency of record to handle a brand relaunch that will be unveiled early next year, including everything from a new visual identity to a redefined brand purpose.

In the following interview, Mr. Dave discusses how he's bringing change to an established financial services company and using new technologies and strategies to achieve his goals.

Advertising Age: What is your biggest challenge?

Mr. Dave: The challenge is Dun & Bradstreet is a 173-year-old company that is known for credit reporting, but that is only a part of what we do. As we modernize our company, our brand must reflect not just what we have been but where we are today -- which is providing data to some of the biggest corporations in the world -- and where we will be tomorrow. The biggest challenge is really locking down in a very simple way what our purpose is and building a communications and messaging strategy behind that.

The next big piece is how we activate it. We don't want to activate it in a traditional way -- it won't be a traditional, big-bang, TV-type launch. The b-to-b buyer is very different now -- very digitally focused. So a lot of what we're doing is modern, digitally focused activation.

Ad Age: What will the relaunch include?

Mr. Dave: We're looking at the whole stack. There are really three components to the activation. The first is a marketing and content platform, things like marketing automation, content management and content operations.

The second is analytics -- how we manage analytics, track and report.

The third is content and thought leadership. We just hired a head of content. Our customers interact with us through content and thought leadership, and we're focused on building scalable, always-on content to drive inbound marketing.

Ad Age: You did a lot of mobile at Dell. Are you using mobile as part of your strategy at D&B?

Mr. Dave: We are absolutely doing mobile. We have a product called Mobile IQ that enables the field sales team to have data on mobile phones, and we're looking at executing all of our marketing with a mobile-first mentality. The site today is responsive-design, and in the future it will be completely mobile-optimized.

Ad Age: What are some of the differences in moving from a high-tech computer company to an established financial services company?

Mr. Dave: One of the differences is, because it's an iconic 173-year-old company, there's a lot of history there. As we looked at our history -- President Lincoln was an employee of D&B -- it helped guide how we brand ourselves and where we're going.

There are also different skill sets in terms of marketing. At Dell, I ran digital marketing, and here I run marketing across all the different functions. One of the big differences when I came on is that all aspects of marketing around the world were pulled together under the CMO, directly reporting to the CEO. Marketing became a global function across all aspects, whereas before it was more decentralized and regionalized.