In late 2005 and early 2006, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) surveyed 2,000 executives about the structure and practice of their companies’ marketing organizations. Marketing organizations, we found, broke down into six basic categories, each with its own orientation to its role within the company, its primary constituents, and its most important capabilities within the marketing domain. (For more about the six categories, and to consider which one your team might fit into, see “The Marketing Organization's DNA.”) But only one of the six organization types correlated clearly with better performance; teams in this category are 20 percent more likely to exhibit superior revenue growth and profitability for their industry than marketing departments in the other five categories.
We call these marketers Growth Champions. Although only 9 percent of the companies we surveyed have marketing departments that fall into this category, their traits and experiences suggest methods by which all marketers can increase their ability to generate superior results, no matter which type of organization they have today.
Unlike the other five categories, Growth Champions see themselves as “owners” of their company’s key growth-support functions, whether or not these fit into conventional definitions of marketing practice. The chief marketing officer (CMO or equivalent head) of a Growth Champion marketing department leads such general management activities as product innovation and new business development; he or she also approves large investment decisions to enter new markets or launch new products. In addition to their broader scope of responsibility, Growth Champions share several other significant characteristics:
They can identify their contributions to revenue growth, and they gain added authority from their ability to define return on investment (ROI).
Their members have a broader range of capabilities than their counterparts in other companies.
They use standardized tools and processes for efficiency.
They are proactive, not reactive, in providing both guidance and services that they believe add value to the senior leadership team.
They are perceived by other executives, especially C-suite officers, as contributors to and leaders of the growth agenda.
Though Growth Champions constitute a relatively small portion of the marketing universe, there are indications that more companies are advancing in this direction. Last year, for example, Coca-Cola Company announced it was eliminating the position of chief marketing officer and rolling marketing, innovation, and strategic growth leadership into a single corporate function. Coke followed Pepsi, Intel, IBM, Samsung, and other pioneers in explicitly linking the marketing function and the imperative for growth.
Leading the Business
The six types of marketing organizations fall into three broader pairs, related to the primary role the marketing department plays in the life and activities of the firm. The most traditional marketing teams, Service Providers and Brand Builders, specialize in delivering conventional marketing services to teams or the whole company, respectively. Best Practices Advisors and Senior Counselors play a more consultative role, adding advisory services to the mix of tactical support. Those in the final pair, Marketing Masters and Growth Champions, take active leadership roles in their companies. The Growth Champion CMO and the Marketing Master CMO are both members of the firm’s leadership team, for example.