Marketers need to double down on the growth agenda within their organisations and across the industry as a whole, according to Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Liodice discussed this subject during a keynote speech at the trade body’s 2019 Masters of Marketing Conference, an event held in Orlando, Florida last week.

“Driving growth is the essence of what we do. It's embedded in our mission to build brands and businesses,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: ANA chief lays eight tracks to drive growth beyond marketing to bottom lines.)

This issue has been a long-term focus at the ANA, which has set the goal of generating $500bn in incremental global sales over the next three years.

But when the ANA looked at the Fortune 500 top-performing companies in 2016, it found that “only half the companies were growing in revenue and after-tax profits”, Liodice explained.

“In 2017, pretty much the same thing: half growing and half declining – not a pretty picture. In 2018, we saw a slight improvement, with six out of ten companies driving growth, but still only half with after-tax profits,” he added.

“Last year, it finally started to take off: the 2019 survey said that eight in ten of the Fortune 500 companies were growing revenue and six in ten had increases in after-tax profits.”

Marketing, Liodice indicated, is every bit as much the hero of brand growth as it is the bane of poor performance – meaning that practitioners must take active measures to solidify their position.

“Our job now is to institutionalise that growth and ensure that it's just not a one-time event. That's going to require the leadership of our industry to be able to come together, aligning CMOs with the growth imperative,” he said.

The ANA chief further insisted, “We have to take the bull by the horns ... Number one is about building awareness within the walls of our organisation of what we're doing and why it's so important.

“And, secondly, [we have] to work as a group of leaders and really make a difference; we should work together in the same direction.”