Rishi Dave, CMO of D&B: Leading The Evolution of Marketing Content Operations

A Series of Profiles of CMO Leaders Who Are Redefining the Marketing Discipline By the Forbes CMO Practice

Recently a team of experts from the Forbes CMO Practice conducted interviews with leading CMOs to develop a research report entitled Publish or Perish: A CMO Roadmap for Managing, Systematizing and Optimizing the Marketing Content Supply Chain”.   The report deepens the conversation about how publishing is emerging as a critical marketing discipline that is essential to top line growth, and increasingly defines the role of the CMO.

One input of the report was interviews with 30 leading CMOs who gave their insights about scaling content operations in a large, complex organization. Following are highlights of one such interview conducted by the report authors Kathy Baughman and Stephen Diorio with Rishi Dave, CMO, Dun & Bradstreet where Rishi discusses how he is evolving marketing content operations to support digital and social channels and to deliver more personalized content experiences to clients.

What is the role of content in your marketing programs?
Content is a key component of delivering on all three aspects of our marketing mission:

  • Driving our brand purpose and values
  • Driving our go to market approach around personas and verticals
  • Growing pipeline

Many CMOs are grappling with personalization. How is Dun & Bradstreet approaching it?

We are leveraging our data and analytics to prioritize our biggest opportunity accounts. Then, we are delivering engaging online and offline experiences against those accounts. And lastly, we are measuring the impact of those experiences. There’s a difference between personalization – what a company might do to create a more engaging website leveraging technology – and personalized experienced; which creates integrated online and offline experiences based on customers’ need. We are activating everything we can to create those personalized experiences.

What does your roadmap look like?

As part of our recent brand modernization, we designed a messaging architecture that creates topline messaging and voice for the company and then connects to persona and vertical specific messaging followed by product/service offerings. For each persona, we create use cases, thought leadership assets and validation content. Our content focuses on customer pain points and interweaves how Dun & Bradstreet can help solve those problems. Whenever possible, proof points are in the voice of the customer. We are focused on consistency across the buyer’s journey – consistency of voice, quality and point of view of the content, all of it meant to give our target personas the knowledge they need to be better at their jobs tomorrow. Our roadmap is all about doing that in whatever new and innovative ways, online and offline, which our customers find valuable.

How is your team organized?

I have a content marketing strategy leader who reports to me directly, but content marketing is not his domain alone. Content success is genuinely cross functional. The content team works with our go-to-market strategy group to understand the personas, use cases and verticals, so they can generate ideas that speak to specific pain points and marketplace realities. They work with our brand and communications team to establish that consistent, relevant voice and overarching point of view and also to engage thought leaders. They work with our digital and operations teams to optimize delivery, promotion and traffic quality. And they work with our analytics team to understand what’s working and what isn’t. We’ve developed a content supply chain that works from messaging to ideation to creation to distribution to measurement, all of it involving just about every piece of the marketing organization.

  Did this structure change the skill sets required to deliver on your vision?

Yes, and no. Marketing teams have always needed smart strategists, people who understand demand generation, creative thinkers. And we definitely still value those skills. What is different, though, is the idea that quality storytelling and content creation is such a key enabler for creating more valuable relationships. And with that, many of your tactics must evolve. How you see your website, advertising, social media and other building blocks of successfully marketing are driven more by narrative and story than ever. So you need people who understand and embrace the unique, holistic ways content can create better relationships instead of relying on more traditional, highly promotional, transactional messaging. That has been our biggest evolution.

You can learn more best practices and research about the evolution of the marketing function and the role of the CMO at the Forbes CMO Practice web site

Rishi Dave is the chief marketing officer for Dun & Bradstreet, he oversees marketing globally, including brand, demand generation, digital, communications, operations, channel, events, sales enablement, corporate social responsibility and product marketing.

Stephen Diorio and Kathy Baughman are on the Faculty of the Brand Publishing Institute, and authored the Forbes Publish or Perish Report