Despite current wisdom, I remain quite bullish on 2009. I think we have hit bottom economically and the last half of the year will significantly improve. While all of the money pumped into the system will lead to inflation and higher prices down the road, there's no doubt that real economic activity will be stimulated and we will begin to see an improvement later this year. Economist Dr. Donald Ratajczak at Morgan Keegan points out that the Friedman hypothesis says that we should have a real response to all of the stimulus in about 6 to 9 months and an inflationary reaction in 18 to 25 months.
Job losses have peaked and we should see improvements in the employment numbers over the next few months. As this occurs, operating profits should begin to improve. Since most industries will be going against lower year to year numbers, the last half of 2009 looks like it will be positive.
So what does this mean to marketers? It means you have six months to prepare for what could be a profitable 2009. Ad and marketing budgets severely lag the economy (which is a post for another day), so back loading your budget for the last half of 2009 is probably a good idea. Granted, it is not uncommon for organizations to cut the budget at midyear. So, I would highly recommend that plans be locked in before mid year for a late year push.
Those who get their programs in place and budget effectively will have a great 2009. Those who don't will be playing catch up. By the time they do catch up, those ahead of the curve will be will on to the next problem: inflation and increasing consumer and producer prices.