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Conquer Your Fear of ROI

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, October 15, 2008

It's OK, I know you're scared. We all are. But we'll get through this together, I promise. No, I'm not talking about the current financial crisis or the dwindling balance on your 401K fund. I'm talking about what so many healthcare marketers seem to fear most: Measuring the return on investment of their marketing efforts.

I hear this all the time from others and I've witnessed it first-hand, too: Somebody says they're interested in learning more about ROI, but as soon as they dip their toe in the water, they complain that it's too cold and run shivering back to the familiar warmth of the campfire.

Yes, it involves math. Yes, it involves research and data and strategy. You have to decide what revenue you'll count, what expenses to deduct, and how much of the difference the campaign gets to take credit for—and everybody has to agree on it. Do you count a portion of the marketing department's salaries against the profit? Do you count downstream revenue for one year or for five?

The thing is that I know you can do this. After all, you haven't left to go watch funny kitten videos on YouTube, have you?

By the way, I'm also be leading a roundtable discussion at the 2008 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards today in Chicago. I hope you'll be there to hear how some of your peers in the healthcare industry are doing on the measurement front. If not, I'll have more to report on that next week.

Meanwhile, do you feel like this week's column doesn't apply to you because you already measure the ROI of everything? Well, stop it. The author of this article warns against "return on whatever," saying that businesses can be handcuffed by "green-tinted glasses." There are some efforts that can't be measured financially, such as improved employee satisfaction. But that shouldn't stop you from doing it.


Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at gshaw@healthleadersmedia.com.
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