The Number One Reason Why Nobody Is Buying Your Thing

So you finally wrote that ebook.

You created that product, coaching package or your online course, but nobody buying.

It’s disheartening. It’s discouraging.

It is heartbreaking.

You put your heart and soul into creating that product – it nearly killed you in the process (don’t believe anyone who tells you that product creation is a breeze). But you didn’t see this coming.

You didn’t expect to see a grand total of 7 copies sold.

You didn’t expect to see 4 people join your online program. You didn’t think no one – not a single person – would take you up on your coaching offer.

What went wrong?

Well, there are a number of things that will lead to an abysmally low number of sales. For example, you don’t know if your audience wants this thing in the first place. Maybe it is too expensive, or maybe you don’t do a good job of promoting it.

However, there is one thing that will kill your product or package no matter how good it is.

Your product isn’t specific enough.

Let’s break it down:


You didn’t define your target audience

This is the biggest mistake – the biggest – any small business owner can make: Creating a product or program for everyone.

You won’t believe how many times people ask me for feedback on something they are creating. And when I ask them who their target market is, this is what I hear: Crickets.

Upon further cajoling, they will sheepishly admit that it is sort of, kinda, for everyone. Like, this product can help anyone and they don’t want to exclude anyone.

If you identify with these people, I hear you. It’s hard to exclude potential clients and customers – who wants to do that?

I’ll tell you. Smart entrepreneurs do. Because they know if they try to please everyone, they will end up pleasing no one. That’s just the truth.

You want to be crystal clear on who you want to attract as a prospect. Create an ideal customer profile before you start working on your offer.

Who are you targeting? How old are they? Are they women or men, or both? Where do they live? How much do they earn? How educated are they? What sort of lifestyle do these people have? What is their biggest problem that you can help solve?

And also, who are you not targeting?

You say you are a writing coach and you want to put an online workshop that teaches people how to write their memoirs. Great. Who do you help and who do you not help? (Men, women younger than 40, women who are too busy with their jobs or businesses, who?)

Define your audience so well that they self-select themselves as potential buyers.


You can’t define the exact problem you are solving

The second most crucial problem that can break your offer is lack of specificity of the problem you are promising to solve.

You can’t articulate the exact result people will get after working with you and this is a big problem. Now, the result doesn’t have to be big and life shattering. You can promise them something like this: At the end of this worship, you will be able to create a social media plan for your small business and will create a month’s worth of updates for Facebook and Twitter. That’s a solid offer.

Your offer should be fully clear. Define the existing problem and the benefits so well that there is no doubt in their minds that this offer is perfect for them.


Your marketing doesn’t stick

People see your offer and don’t take too much notice. It doesn’t register. Why? Again, because you haven’t spent much time pinpointing your audience.

When you address women, because you don’t know if your ideal customer is a mother with small children or not, you can’t say anything that will resonate with this particular lady.

Let’s say, you are selling a product that helps women save time. But since you haven’t decided that if your product will be for busy mums, you can’t paint a picture of what it would be like to spend more time with her small kids and not miss out on their childhood. And in the same breath, you can’t speak to women in high powered roles and help them see that they will be less stressed and not have to spend so many hours tied to their desk. You just can’t do that. Their demands are different. They need a different product.

You can’t use the language they use because you can’t picture them clearly. You can’t step into their shoes because you are talking to two different sets of people.

As a result, any of these women will not get a sense of if your product is for them.

Your offer won’t resonate with them instantly, and they will move on.


You don’t differentiate yourself from others

Lastly, you don’t consciously differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Before you put out an offer, you have to see what already exists in the market and then see how you can make yours different.

Your audience won’t probably know every single product or service that is similar to yours, but they will be aware of a few, so don’t gloss over this step.

If I am looking for an ebook on juicing, I am going to find out what my options are. If you have gone through the trouble of establishing a relationship with me prior to your promotion, then I won’t spend hours looking. I know you, I need something and you are there.

However, if I haven’t been on your email list for a while, and I find your ebook through someone on social media, I would want to know why I need to go with you. What makes you different? What makes your ebook different?

And if you can’t convince me, I won’t buy.


Imagine yourself at the other end and try to see things from a prospect’s point of view. What will make you hit the buy button?

Does the sales message resonate with you? Does it speak to you directly? Is the offer super valuable? Do you see what you get out of it? Do you see what makes it a better offer as compared to others?

If you can put a big tick against all these questions – this offer will sell.

Aren’t you glad you happen to be that person selling it?


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  1. Ankit Jaiswal Says :
    Posted on August 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Marya,
    Great post.
    Just stumbled upon your link and found this awesome article.
    The reasons you have penned down are very actual and true. People don’t target their audience, they just build everything for everyone.

  2. Linda Says :
    Posted on August 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Great post! I have done a solid job on defining my ideal client, but I don’t think I’ve done as good a job at clearly defining the problem I am solving. This was an aha moment for me.

    I am going to save this post and put each product thru your 4 points. Thank you for such a helpful and concise resource!

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on August 19, 2014 at 1:08 am

      Thanks so much, Linda. Good to know you found this useful! 🙂

  3. Amelia Barnes Says :
    Posted on August 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Great tips and great reminders. Even though I know most of this stuff, I find that I don’t put these ideas into practice. As usual enjoy reading your blog. Thanks.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on August 19, 2014 at 1:07 am

      It’s still good to be reminded, isn’t it? But don’t sit on this information – take action. Implement it.
      Thanks for your comment, Amelia!

  4. Clark
    Posted on August 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I agree 100% with the need to define the target audience. I create musical productions as fundraisers for organizations. The more we define our target audience … and … structure our marketing efforts accordingly … the better results we have. If you try to please everyone, you please no one. I like the sound of crickets sometimes, but not when defining a target market.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on August 19, 2014 at 1:06 am

      Well said, Clark. Thank you! 🙂

  5. Pixie Strong Says :
    Posted on August 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Marya,
    I discovered your blog last week and I think it’s fantastic! All your articles and reports have been so helpful.
    I am a bit of a newbie (my blog is only 1 year old), and I have a silly question to ask…
    How do you find your target market without spending thousands on market research? Is there a way? Do you just make up the profile of the person you would like to sell to? i have a few followers that have organically come from my blog, but so far engagement is minimal and this makes it harder to clearly define their wants and needs. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on August 19, 2014 at 1:06 am

      Hey Pixie, thanks so much for your kind words – and welcome! 🙂

      In the beginning, it’s all about experimenting to see what sticks. Create a profile of your ideal customer and publish some content (and promote it) and see how it performs. Give it some time. If it’s not working, try tweaking it a bit and see what happens. This process takes time. This is my fourth year in business and I still keep tweaking things as my business evolves. Listen to your gut.

      You can also talk to a few people and ask them what they want to see from you. Ask your blog readers, ask people in forums, face to face. Remember, you don’t need hundreds of responses, you just need a few to see if you are on the right track.

      Lastly, look at the people who are buying the kind of things similar to yours. Who are they? Where do they hang out? What products are they buying? They are potential customers, too.
      Hope this helps!

  6. Judy Says :
    Posted on August 18, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    It makes perfect sense, sounds so simple. And like all things that appear simple, not so easy to do.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on August 19, 2014 at 12:59 am

      Yup. It’s one of those things a brand new business owner, who has a teeny, tiny marketing budget, struggles with, and it’s the same thing that keeps a multi-million dollar company’s people up at 3 am. That’s why it is so important to keep working on it. Thanks for your comment, Judy. 🙂

  7. Joanna Says :
    Posted on August 19, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Perfect timing Marya, I’m about to put my ebook out there and you always scare me with the scenarios, hahaha! I think I got 2 first points covered but you never know.. good reminded, I keep forgetting about the basics.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on August 19, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Great to know you are on top of it, Joanna. I am sure you will go beautifully! 🙂

  8. Janine Gerard Says :
    Posted on August 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Insightful post, coming up with an in-ingenuous marketing strategy may seem tricky but once you know your target demographic, believe in your product and maintain perseverance your product could be a success.

  9. Sagar Says :
    Posted on August 21, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Nice and very informative post

    Just writing a ebook doesn’t make you earn money or bring fame to you . There are many other factors for your writing career to meet success. Not only just writing but you should also concentrate on some other things.

    The above post explains few tips like not focusing exactly on targeted audience , not doing enough marketing for your product, not maintaining a differentiating factor between you and others.I think not having having enough marketing and not focusing on targeted audience and re the main problems if no one is willing to buy our product.

    Well very important post and I hope this would help many other writers and entrepreneurs.

    Thank you for sharing.

  10. amitava
    Posted on August 29, 2014 at 7:11 am

    After going through some of your articles, I must say they are excellent as your examples are very simple to go through and so those are very good motivating capsules filled with management theories.
    Wish you all good wishes..

  11. Kamila Gornia | for passion-driven solopreneurs Says :
    Posted on September 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Yep, all of these are very legit reasons – particularly the problem solving, I’ve noticed. We often think of a solution to something without really thinking or surveying whether there is a NEED for that solution, whether an actual problem exists that would require that solution. A lot of times, we think backwards.

    This is great.

  12. Katie Says :
    Posted on September 3, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Hi Mayra – I just wanted to say thank you so much for this post and for your whole site! So much of what you write is great – very nonsense in a wonderful, practical way…while also encouraging people to embrace what’s true about their style.

    I think I’m still struggling to know exactly who my ideal customer is – I have a rough sense, but I’m still so early. I’m offering one-on-one coaching, rather than a large package, because I want to pick up some experience. Anyway, this is such a long comment, but I wanted to say that I will keep what you’ve written in mind! You are great!

    (And, also, I’m an INFJ too 🙂

  13. Muhammad Mairaj Says :
    Posted on September 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Marya,
    Awesome post which contains very useful information. It is informative, inspirational and instructive. Thanks for sharing such an excellent post.

  14. Amaia - You Made My Day Says :
    Posted on September 17, 2014 at 5:38 am

    I’ll keep all these in mind while writing both my blog and my ebook.
    A few months ago I thought that when writing a book, you had to either write a very heavy one, or be the best on your niche.
    I am learning as I go, and I think I am not the only one going through that process, so others will be happy to ‘learn from my learnings’. That is why I decide to start writing my book.
    Thanks again!

  15. Worli Says :
    Posted on September 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Absolutely! It’s essential to have a grasp of who your target audience is. The style in which you write will be completely different when delivered to a novice than it would be for an expert. The more you consider whom you are writing for, the more successful your efforts will be. Your target audience is often smarter than you may give them credit for and they will catch on quickly.

  16. Victoria Says :
    Posted on October 16, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Thanks, great answers, but I would add pricing too – it can stop people from buying, even if your product is good – you always have to understand how much your target audience is able and willing to pay for you solving their problem, or sometimes, you need to change the target audience

    • Nicole Says :
      Posted on October 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Hey Marya,
      Marvelous post which contains exceptionally valuable data. It is instructive, helpful and informational. A debt of gratitude is in order regarding offering such an incredible post.

  17. Nicole Hoteles del Mundo Says :
    Posted on October 31, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Yes, it is very heartbreaking to fail after so much effort, but at least I’ve learnt how NOT to do it… You know what they say, failure is success if you learn from it. Trying to see the bright side of it. Next time I’ll do better!

  18. Robinsh Says :
    Posted on November 3, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Recently I launched an ebook in IM niche targeting the CPA marketers and sold 20 copies the very first day and then after that I saw close to 1-2 two sales a day, I found that some bloggers and spammers were giving away my ebook for free so piracy could also be a reason if anyone loosing the business.

    Anyway thanks for this post because I think my promotional methods are not enough to increase the sales.

  19. Afnan Mir Says :
    Posted on November 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I agree with you completely on the target audience part. Seriously not every product is meant to be for everyone. Only a sports fan would like a sports related thing. Thanks for sharing your great insight.

  20. NoeliA@MyHowtoBeHappy.com Says :
    Posted on December 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Mayra, this is a great read and I would like to thank you for making me think and take into considerations things that were not addressed by me before.

  21. Dr. Sparks Says :
    Posted on February 9, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for your insightful post.
    I found your style of writing very interesting, rather than phrasing each point as an instruction, you phrased it by means of pointing out mistakes, how refreshing!

    I also enjoyed how concise your explanations were. I am just a dentist, and marketing with its related topics have never been in my sphere of expertise, so thank you for sharing your insight.

  22. T.S. Phillips Says :
    Posted on February 11, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Thanks for the great tips and reminders we all need to hear to better promote our products and services! Looking forward to more articles from you, Ted

  23. Shaheryar Patel Says :
    Posted on February 18, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Maria,

    Good post, surely would help all the guys in this marketing era. And You raise the good point that people don’t differentiate the audience. I made this mistake once in the beginning of my internet marketing career but glad I get to the right path soon.

  24. Angie Dixon Says :
    Posted on February 25, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m starting a new book, and the reminder to be very specific is a helpful one. With any new book (I write nonfiction, self-help and how-to), I always stop to think about my audience.

    This time, however, I’m writing about how to get ideas, and I admit I started thinking about all the different types of people who could use this book, and thinking about expanding it to be more general…

    And then I found you. And now my feet are back on the ground and I realize that I can write this book for writers, as I intended. Then I can adapt it for business owners, for artists, for teachers, for, I don’t know, software developers or web designers…but I cannot write for everyone.

    I’ve known this for years, but I did need the reminder. Thank you.

  25. Naina Says :
    Posted on March 24, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Yes, it is very heartbreaking to fail after so much effort, but at least I’ve learnt how NOT to do it… You know what they say, failure is success if you learn from it. Trying to see the bright side of it. Next time I’ll do better!

  26. Theodore Nwangene Says :
    Posted on July 30, 2015 at 4:32 am

    Hello Marya,
    I agree with all your points. The worst mistake anyone can make is to write a generic book. If your book must sell, you’ll have to niche down first, you need to first identify who your target audience is so you can give them exactly what they want.

    Also, you need stand out from your competitors. If you do it exactly the same way they’re doing, it won’t work.

    A very lovely post Marya, thanks for sharing.