A writer calculates the ROI of her day

Our health care editor measures the return on investment of waking up and starting the workweek. Grab a blindfold, some hot cocoa, and an abacus.

One of the best parts about my job is this: I really don’t have to do anything that communicators guys do.

I just sit back, relax, and write about what health care communicators do all day. I read a lot of blog posts, share what you’re doing on our website, and spend way too much time worrying about whether I’ll get melanoma in my eye.

Here’s something that should be done more: You’ve got to start calculating the ROI of your cool projects.

I’ve sat through so many webinars and presentations in which health care communicators talk about the great, fun campaigns or social media initiatives they’ve worked on. However, when it comes to proving the ROI of these projects, all I get is feel-good anecdotes.

I want you to show me the money. If you’re not proving that it’s working, what’s the point of doing it?

I know that it’s easier said than done—especially coming from me, since I’ve never done anything.

Even though I’m not working for a hospital and can’t really prove the ROI of any of my imaginary marketing projects, maybe I could try to prove the ROI of waking up on a Monday.

It’s overwhelming to think about proving the ROI of the “big picture,” so instead, let’s try proving the ROI of each little pixel.

Why? If you believe you can measure everything—which you can—you’ll feel more empowered to tackle the ROI of your next campaign.

Here we go:

Asking Chris Boyer for help with this article. If you’re familiar with Chris Boyer, you know his name equals ROI. At our recent Health Care Social Media Summit at Mayo Clinic, Boyer gave us the magic formula to calculate the ROI for hospital campaigns. Here it is:


When I had this story idea, I emailed Chris to bounce it off him. I knew that if I had some help, not only would he be willing to double-check my math, but he’d tweet about it and post the story on his social media outlets, too.

Cost: Free
Return: The exposure to thousands of Twitter fans and social media friends, estimated AVE: $6,000
ROI: Infinite (Even the king of ROI couldn’t give me a dollar amount for this.)

Going to water aerobics. I’m a millennial trapped in a 91-year-old’s body. Water aerobics is my new favorite hobby and good for my body. Over time, if I don’t work out, I’ll become obese and my insurance premiums will go up after I get diagnosed with diabetes.

Cost: $28 a month
Return: Potential adjustment for obesity on insurance premiums: $5,300
ROI: $5,300-28/28 = $188

Buying a cup of hot chocolate. Have you visited Chicago in November? It’s downright nasty. If I don’t drink something warm in the morning, I have no motivation to start the workday. If I don’t start working, I’ll lose my job.

Cost: $3
Return: Staying awake and warm for half a day, which is worth at least $200 in salary, benefits, and intangibles
ROI: $200-$3/$3 = $65.66

Meeting friends for lunch. One main reason people get depressed is a lack of social interaction. If I don’t carve out time for friends, I’ll get lonely. And going to a psychologist is pricy.

Cost: $10 a week (go out one day; you don’t have to spend a lot for lunch)
Return: The cost of depression annually: $600
ROI: $600-$520/$520 = $1.50 a week (OK, it’s kind of a break-even, but you’ve gotta eat—and tip)

Getting eight hours of sleep. Lack of sleep causes a lot of bad things to happen to you: typos (leading to job loss), weight gain (leading to diabetes), and an early death (leading to…well, death.). I sleep pretty well, but I sometimes use a blindfold to keep out the light.

Cost: (blindfold) $5
Return: The direct cost of insomnia in the United States was estimated to be $13.9 billion
ROI: $13.9B-$5/$5 = $2,779,999

Signing up for Ragan Training. Take a look at the bottom of this article. We’re promoting our Ragan training site (it’s super awesome, BTW). I’m tracking to see how many people will buy a membership, based on this link. If one person clicks on it and buys it, I can prove to my boss Mark Ragan that I can make $895 in the three hours it took me to write this article. Not too shabby for a Monday.

Cost: $0
Return: $895 (for at least one person signing up)
ROI: Infinite (because you are promised to learn techniques that can change your life!)

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