A recent data set just released by Marketing Sherpa provides some interesting clues about how marketers are changing tactics in the face of the economic downturn. While the data covers a wide spectrum of marketers, it contains a number of insights that are useful to professional services firms.

Let's start with the big gainers. It seems that web 2.0 tactics and emailing to house lists are both enjoying a surge in popularity, with 48% of respondents increasing their usage. The Marketing Sherpa folks speculate that this is because these techniques are relatively inexpensive. That certainly makes sense. And to be sure, we are optimistic about the prospects for leveraging web 2.0 tactics to grow your professional services firm. But so far, we can't point to a proven history of success — the data just isn't there. Emailing to house lists is also a fine way to maintain and build your relationship with current clients and prospects. Just don't expect it to increase business in this downturn, especially as marketers of every stripe start to flood in-boxes.

On the other end of the scale, some of the big losers are print advertising, event marketing and direct mail. Again… very consistent with people's reluctance to spend. This will likely translate into less clutter in these channels and suppliers who are in the mood to negotiate. Does this present an opportunity to grow your firm?

I think it creates a terrific opportunity. There is often a great benefit to zigging when everyone else is sagging.

Of course, it makes no sense to spend on print or event marketing if these techniques haven't worked for your firm in the past. Don't know if they work? You haven't been testing and tracking results?(Shame on you!) Well, now may be the best time to run a careful test.

As for my part, I'm recommending an increase in our direct mail budget. I'll let you know how it works.