If you had only a US$1 marketing budget for your news media organisation in 2014, how and where would you invest that dollar to generate the greatest return for your business? 

Would you invest in your core business to maintain profit margins or invest in new businesses or revenue sources to ensure future financial results?

As 2014 approaches, most marketers face the challenge of delivering more results with fewer resources. So where is the smart money going to be spent in 2014?

Regardless of where you are in your 2014 budget process, I recommend you bring your staff together and ask them to answer this simple question: If we had only had US$1 to spend, where would we spend it to maximise our financial returns in 2014?

The answers you get might be surprising and, at the very least, revealing.

Some will say we need to spend more money on selling what we already have to sell. In other words, we need to invest in our core business to maintain profit margins and provide the resources for future growth opportunities.

Still others will say we need to spend money on creating new products and services that will serve to diversify and generate new revenue and profit streams for the business.

While both positions are valid, how much of that US$1 should be spent on supporting the core business – the source of current profits – versus investing in new revenue streams? The answer, of course, depends on how you view your business today and your vision for your business tomorrow.

This exercise will be difficult for some, akin to asking them to select which family member to leave on board a sinking ship as the rescue boats are about to be lowered. For others, this exercise will be transformational, providing a first glimpse at “what really matters” at the end of the day.

A good place to start – and end – is by asking and answering another simple question: What does this have to do with growing audience and revenue? If the answer is not forthcoming, then the strategy or tactic under scrutiny should be abandoned in favour of actions that will impact audience and revenue.

Business owners face similar questions every day: Should we shore up the business we have or invest in things that will impact future revenue, profitability, and success? The smart answer is “yes to both,” but the reality of limited resources forces us to make difficult decisions and assume a fair amount of risk.

So where is the smart money going to be spent in 2014? Let’s hope it’s on those strategies and tactics that will grow audience and revenue and provide a measurable return on investment.