At the end of February 2008, the Conference Board announced that in January the US leading index decreased 0.1 percent, the coincident index increased 0.1 percent, and the lagging index remained unchanged. As of the end of January, the leading index had declined for the fourth straight month with stock prices being the largest negative contributor, followed by housing permits.

With January's decline, the leading index has fallen 2.0 percent from July 2007 to January 2008, the largest six-month decline in the index since early 2001.

And recently released figures for the Consumer Confidence Index in March were even more downbeat.

The weaknesses in the economy are becoming more widespread than the strengths, suggesting we may all be tightening our belts a bit more soon.

As a result, our marketing budgets will be under even more scrutiny, and marketing professionals will be held even more accountable for the money they invest on behalf of their company. The pressure for Marketing to demonstrate the contribution and value it is making will increase.

All that will be occurring as Marketing struggles to secure a more strategic place at the table and adopt a role beyond sales support.

It's safe to assume that the C-Suite at many companies is or will be asking the marketing team to focus resources on high-value and high-ROI strategies.

Though senior executives often allocate what they feel is a substantial budget for marketing, marketing organizations will find it even more difficult to satisfy all the requirements within the budget parameters. The limits of many organizations' internal resources, already regularly stretched by the C-suite's myriad and frequent tactical requests, will most likely be further tested.

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM