It is clear that a majority of businesses in the US and abroad find good design crucial in the current economic climate. The UK Design Council gives examples and statistics on their website that are worth investigating.?
Design can certainly give one campaign an edge over another, which in a market that is becoming more and more selective, is very important.
Be specific and strategic about the type of design you implement. With marketing departments hit just as hard as any other, your advertising dollars are probably limited. Target existing customers, good responders, and proven markets with new, fresh angles for your business, and aim to gain a leg up over your competitors.
Remember: your competitors are feeling the same economic constraints you are, and many may have cut out marketing campaigns altogether. With good design, you may see your market share increase and, at the end of the recession, find your company on top.