Cost per communication – a new way to look at comms ROI

“Let’s communicate more!”

It’s a great battle cry at a management meeting, but if you sit in the communications department, you know that this well-intentioned initiative usually requires more time and money. You would love to communicate more, but unfortunately, all communications have a cost.

“It doesn’t cost us anything to have another meeting.”

This is a common misconception. If there is no direct expense, there is often still a cost. I spoke with a friend earlier this year who was consulting for a manufacturing company. Communicating with employees was one of their top challenges. The management team’s proposed solution was to have more frequent all-hands meetings. My friend is hyper-focused on efficiency, so he couldn’t help but raise his hand and let the team know that each time they have an all-hands meeting, it costs the company between $5,000-$10,000.

On the surface, meetings with employees don’t seem to incur expenses, but there is a significant cost associated with shutting down a manufacturing line for 30 minutes.

For this company, increasing communications had a significant cost. With meetings and other traditional forms of communications, the cost-per-communication is high, and as your interact with your employees more frequently, the costs increase. This is also true for printed newsletters, mailings, and posters.

Digital communication platforms flip the model on its head. With an intranet, messaging platform, or other digital channel, you likely pay a flat monthly fee for the service. In contrast to traditional methods, you don’t incur more fees for each additional communication. Instead, your cost-per-communication actually goes down with more frequent utilization. You are not penalized for increasing conversations with your employees; you get a better ROI by speaking to them more often.

Here’s a quick to-do list as you plan for 2017:

  • Find the hidden costs in your communication plan.
  • Avoid implementing new strategies that incur costs every time you interact with employees.
  • Find ways to reduce your cost-per-communication.


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