I sit here today with great hope for 2009 and thankful that 2008 will soon be behind us all. It’s been a challenge these past few months to stay focused on anything, but producing results of today. In fact, I think that’s the one thing about this past fall that has been a change for me. I am so used to being able to balance strategic longer term goals and the needs of sales and leads of today. But, that has not been the case since the summer…

My 2009 marketing budget has a different make up then in years past. Typically, I set aside 20% of my budget for innovation and ad hoc program spending. This year’s budget has virtually no ad hoc spending set aside. I have allocated 10% toward creating a greater presence online. Not exactly sure of the results, but that’s all I can afford for innovation spending in 2009…until we all have greater market visibility.

I saw that Chris Brogan forecast a painful market consolidation of the online community software players, which is really needed to create stronger companies and stronger products. My concern is that marketers will sit on the sidelines the first half of 2009 waiting for the strong to be truly identified. Visibility to sufficient funding is surely going to be hard to achieve for virtually all in 2009. It’s hard for anyone to build a profitable business model to compete with Ning, which is virtually free, or KickApps, which has such a low start-up cost.

I think 2009 will be a struggle for any marketer not having a product in the “must have” category or a product that does not have an immediate and quantifiable cost savings. And I’m not talking about “soft savings”. I’m talking hard savings that will have an operational ROI. If you are a “nice to have”, expect your project not to make it past the CFO…

Have a safe new year’s celebration.