America's Association of National Advertisers on Wednesday unveiled new research suggesting that marketers are about to supersede investment analysts as Masters of the Universe.

The study asked 2,000 marketing executives about the structure, practice, decision rights, and capabilities of the marketing departments at their companies.

Carried out for the ANA by management consultant Booz Allen Hamilton, the survey found corporate marketing departments that supplement their traditional role by leading non-marketing activities such as corporate innovation and strategy, contribute to superior overall company performance.

Such paragons are termed by Booz Growth Champions and marketing departments in this category are 20% more likely to exhibit superior revenue growth and profitability than those in the other five categories (Marketing Masters, Senior Brand Builders, Best Practices Advisors, Counselors, and Service Providers).

But only 9% of companies qualify as Growth Champions. In such heady environments, senior marketers hold primary authority over large strategic investments, trailblaze innovation activities, and spearhead growth initiatives alongside their chief executives.

Proselytizes Booz Allen vp Ed Landry: "In today's business environment, growth is the critical marketing metric. Our research has revealed a structure that can reliably produce higher growth in both revenue and profits.

"This creates a clear-cut mandate for marketing executives everywhere: upgrade your capabilities, assume a greater leadership role and position marketing so it can be a primary driver of your organization's growth agenda."

The study found several distinctive characteristics of Growth Champion marketers, among them . . .

  • Seventy-five percent indicated they helped the CEO develop the strategic growth agenda, versus 38% of all respondents.

  • Eighty-one percent presided over product innovation and business development, compared with just 10% of the rest. In fact, half of the respondents in the other categories overall reported no involvement in these activities.

  • Over 80% approve large, growth-oriented investments such as market-entry or product launches while less than 10% in the more traditional categories had this same authority.

  • Eighty-seven percent make major strategic positioning, channel strategy, pricing, and communications decisions, and 98% lead other functions such as sales and finance on growth initiatives.
Of the 'also-rans' Booz found that . . .
  • Marketing Masters (38% of respondents): Develop and lead large company-wide marketing efforts, help set company priorities, and may be highly regarded for their marketing skill sets. While they do deliver better revenue growth and profitability than several other types, these levels fall short of what is proved possible by the more highly-evolved Growth Champion model.

  • Senior Counselors (17%): Serve as primary advisors to the CEO and business units on marketing strategy but rarely step up to become involved in product innovation or new business development.

  • Best Practices Advisors (9%): Marketers work with individual business units to bring "best practices" to advertising, promotion, and public relations activities. While all but 5 percent of the companies following this model are profitable, their levels are not as high as those of the Marketing Masters or Growth Champions.

  • Brand Builders (12%): Provide marketing services such as communications strategy, creative output and campaign execution. The marketing organization's role in leadership and strategy are negligible, and only garner revenue growth and profits on a par with industry averages.

  • Service Providers (15%): Offer advertising, promotional and public relations services, responding to brand and product teams. Companies that fell into this category had the highest correlation with below-average revenue growth.
Observes ANA evp Michael Palmer: "For marketers to successfully migrate into a Growth Champion role, they must be metric-oriented to be seen as 'owners' of their company's key growth-support functions.

"It's critical that they play a greater role in strategic growth initiatives and develop significant general management skills while also applying financial and analytical expertise to guide large, growth-oriented investment decisions."

Data sourced from Association of National Advertisers (USA); additional content by WARC staff