Response vs. Results: What's The Difference And Why It Matters


Too often, businesses gauge the full success of their advertising on consumer comments. They may be tempted to feel a rush of fame when their radio jingles are sung in public or when their faces are recognized from their magazine or TV ads. While a level of excitement over this kind of feedback is certainly merited, trouble arises when businesses elevate the importance of these responses over hard-and-fast results. This misplacement of priorities can lead to confusion and could ultimately, cause businesses to get off-track with their goals.  

So, what are the main differences between response and results? How can businesses examine their priorities to determine if they have the right advertising motives? What types of advertisements will lead to quality results?

Response vs. Results

We’ve previously discussed the confusion that arises concerning response and results, pointing out that this pitfall is actually one of the 12 main causes of advertising failure. This common marketing mishap can always use a quick recap. Response is simple feedback, such as, “Hey, I like your ad! I heard it on the radio!” or “Aren’t you Steve from Steve’s Pest Control?” Results, on the other hand, show quantifiable data based on actual sales, foot traffic, or other solid, measurement methods. While each of these outcomes prove the success of a marketing medium in their own right, only one reaction represents the conversion of a prospect into a customer: Results.

But let’s be clear: Responses certainly do have a worthwhile place in the marketing world. As we commonly share with our clients, we believe in a tactic called, “Ramp up, Response, Results.” This strategy outlines the common path that consumers are prone to take once hearing a business’ advertisements. It works like this: A business consistently advertises their message (ramp up), consumers hear these ads and comment on them (response), then when their needs arise, they know who to do business with because they have already taken notice of these ads (results).

The issue arises when businesses misunderstand the steps above and haphazardly place more value in the responses they hear. While responses are valuable, they are also obscure and random, making ROI tracking an extremely difficult task. For example, many companies still rely on consumers to track ROI, asking, “How did you hear about us?” This approach is problematic as today’s consumers are exposed to unlimited advertisements each day, forgetting most of them when their heads hit their pillows at night. So, a person may respond that they saw an ad online when in reality, a radio ad led them to searching the business on Google. Often, the last point of contact is the one that consumers credit for their eventual purchase. This leads businesses down a trail to nowhere, providing unreliable results and often misdirecting companies to spend their advertising dollars on avenues that truly do not offer the most beneficial ROI.

Don’t believe us? We would encourage businesses who take the “How did you hear about us?” approach to list out every possible advertising avenue there is. More often than not, our clients are surprised to find that consumers will often respond that they heard about a certain business from a marketing medium that the business does not currently use. It’s simply unreliable to put too much weight into these responses and depend on consumers for clear-cut, ROI data.

It’s imperative for businesses to team up with a trusted marketing partner who will always remind them to prize results over simple responses from the public. It’s also crucial for businesses to partner with marketers who understand the types of advertisements that will produce quality results.  Here are a few components of effective ads that we believe contain the key characteristics to a successful, result-producing campaign.

Keep it Simple

No matter what industry your business is in, one thing is certain: Advertisements that get results are easy-to-understand. Don’t be tempted to sound smart by talking over consumers’ heads with industry jargon or content that risks not landing with them. Feel free to be creative, but always be mindful of the ads’ underlying messages: Are they clear? Would they make you want to buy from your business? Are they falling in line with your simple-to-follow strategy-based message?

Solve A Problem

Are your advertisements solving a clear problem? For example, is your cleaning business reminding the public how much of a hassle spring cleaning is going to be if they attempt to tackle it on their own? Is your healthcare clinic presenting the current statistics about how many people are contracting the flu by declining the vaccine? In your advertisements, present an issue, then announce your business as the industry leader. This will result in consumers who have no other choice but to trust the business who seemed to have their best interests at heart.

Include Calls-to-Action

State a strong and specific call-to-action that you’d like consumers to follow. For example, your business could say, “Find more information on BrandsFormation by visiting us online at,” or “Get a free tire quote now by visiting our website.” Make it extremely easy (and make it seem like a no-brainer!) for them to take the next step. These types of clear CTAs end up leading to quality results.  

Match Your Creative With Your Goals

Determine a specific goal that you want an advertisement to produce for your business. Then, ensure that your ads are addressing this one thing. Don’t be tempted to squeeze a dozen smooth-sounding offers into one ad. Let one advertisement serve a purpose on its own and make sure that the creative and the calls-to-action match up with that end-goal.

It’s important to remember that most consumers are never going to run into your business shouting that they heard your radio advertisements! While that would certainly make ROI tracking much easier, it’s simply not the way the world works. The bottom line is that consumers will be drawn to businesses who keep their ads simple, solve common problems, include logical and clear next steps for making contact, and ensure their creative campaigns are aligned goal-wise. Remember: Do the responses even matter if you’re not getting the results that lead to satisfying your business goals?

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