Why are customers not buying despite huge Digital spent in Marketing?

20 min readAug 14, 2020


Today the marketing function has become very complex, and it starts with the product design. Market fit quality product coupled with sound marketing strategy alone sells.

Products cannot click sales despite strong Digital marketing presence or spent- Why?

This is a constant worry and challenge for entrepreneurs, marketers, and other Digital marketing specialists. Many a time’s specialists stumble upon this.

Before we discover solutions for this, I strongly feel marketing as a function is a primary reason for this.

Maybe it becomes a culprit when we don’t understand the characteristics of marketing.

Let us get into some basics to understand this problem.

Foremost, I would like to explain- what is marketing.

Well, marketing is for all its complexity, at its core, revolves around four things: product, price, promotion, and place.

The Design, quality & features of the product take the driver seat in determining the sales. In short, Marketing is never too winning when compared to the product itself and product features.

The company which is worried about sales has to understand marketing from its complexity and study and use every aspect of marketing for attracting prospects and sales.

Design, Quality, and Features of the Product sits at the Top of Marketing

You can expect outstanding sales performance if they exploit all aspects of Marketing

Companies, which do not focus even in any one aspect, will undergo disappointing sales performance proportionately despite money being spent in traditional or Digital media.

Let me now explain every important aspect.

I would like to analyze and address these issues and enlist the reasons.

Which is important in improving sales?

The aspects of marketing on handling well give the leverage to augment sales; otherwise, the money spent goes in the drain or results in an insignificant outcome.

There are several aspects surrounded as answers to our question, and in this article, I would like to explain to you the reasons one by one.

Hope you have understood the outline and ready to dive deeper.

Creativity in designing the product is part of marketing.

Creativity is working along with the customer’s requirement from the design of the product and marketing travels along with this. Both can never work in silos. Creativity plays an important role in product /service development.

The essence of this design process is not the sole performance of the creation tool, but the alignment with the market requirements. Creativity is an integral part of marketing.

The problem of knowing what product to build is something that both product designers and marketers need to understand. Essentially, the marketing starts with understanding the design of the product and creating the design template for the product. Maybe a technical designer can come along for implementing the Design of the product.

To design the product, the marketer has to share his requirements. Both designers and marketers then need to continue to focus on that problem so they know how to proceed in designing the right product.

Best Product Design eases Marketing efforts

This explains that the marketing starts along with creating the product and not after creating the product.

Creativity travel along with marketing in the product design/ services and any shortfall on this will affect the sales.

Right Product- market fit results in ease of marketing & speeds up sales

The design of the right product for the right customer is very important, and technically we call this a product-market fit. When we design the product/services understanding the customer needs, it results in the right product for the right customer.

Go to market with Right product for the right customer

So many times the product fails in the sales arena because they do not design the product, keeping this concept of marketability to address the right needs of the customer.

The product can be of excellent quality and features but should address the needs of the customer.

This is one of the primary reason that product fails despite having huge Digital spending.

The customer does not feel the need, and it is not the right product-market fit.

I have my personal experience in this when I was part of a sales division in a real estate company. We had a product which was expensive, close to 1.3 Cr. Even though the product is good, we found the budget of the TG was only between 50 to 70 lacks. We found despite the excellent product quality; we were struggling to sell this product.

We found that that the product is too early for a futuristic market or target group. We could sell other products in the same market below 70L, but we found a challenge in selling this product.

We used to feel that the market research and product design was wrong where the suggestion on the product-market fit not carried out before launching the product.

Marc Andreessen, who originally coined ‘Product/Market Fit’ in his post “The Only Thing That Matters”

Explains Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

The product fails because they never understand the product-market fit and they never get in there.


I would like to refer to an interesting article read recently in HBR, which points out that creative marketing (Customer-centric) should work towards continuously for a product-market fit. HBR article mentions the following as active components in marketing.


1. Create with the customer, not just for the customer

2. Invest with end to end experience

3. Turn everyone into an Advocate

4. Bring creativity to measurement

5. Think like a start-up

This is an important matter for Discussion and understanding because there is a lot of change in marketing compared to the earlier era. Earlier Marketers were like an artist and creative people, but today they need to bring in more value than creators and entrepreneurs. The brand develops only on following this mantra.

The product needs to be strong with competitive and groundbreaking features or technology.

Any product which does not match the product-market fit criteria becomes a challenge for marketers and any amount Digital strategies or spend may not push sales considerably

Marketing strategy is contextual (Traditional or Digital)

Also today the traditional marketing has been to a large extent replaced by Digital marketing. But there is still a place for traditional marketing. Especially if you want to reach an older audience or a local audience, traditional marketing methods may be more productive and stand out better than digital marketing methods.

Though these methods may seem “old,” They are still there for a reason.

I have my personal experience in this, While I worked for a Real estate company DLF, we used to get still inquiries from newspaper inserts. This is for a targeted neighborhood community and costs less.

We used to hire small marriage Halls on weekends and used to advertise in neighborhood papers* with small ads for bringing in walk-ins.

(*Adyar times, Thiruvanmiyur times, and Mylapore times are small newspapers used to be in circulation around the project site area by 5 to 10 km radius)

The neighborhood newspaper advertisements capture the attention of prospects living in the nearby area and triggered in site visits. I used to make good conversions in this small lead funnel, and there were fewer serious leads.

We made good visibility in periodical and cost-effective advertisements in these small neighborhood papers and created walk-ins which were much better than FB ads and Prime newspaper Ads, which are prohibitively expensive.

I infer from this activity, that smart advertising with the affordable Ad cost is one method all Marketers need to understand. This approach in marketing brings in leads and effective conversions at affordable cost, irrespective of the fact whether to use Digital or traditional media.

The product value of sales in the above scenario was from 75L to 1.2 Cr and the cost of acquisition worked out cheaper compared to Digital advertisements. (A full-page advertisement cost only Rs10000/)

The marketing cost is economical compared to the sales revenue.

In my experience, Traditional methods still work for a specific purpose.

Traditional OR Digital — the fundamentals of Marketing remains the same

Marketing strategies are contextual. Understanding the usage of Digital strategies for the context is of prime importance. Digital spend has to be rational and contextually spent.

Digital marketing is probably the best option for segments where we are aware of the Target group (TG) if you want to reach a particular group of people, wherever they may be, while keeping costs low, we can go with digital marketing. Doing so will also allow you to collect valuable information on your audience immediately so you can create even more effective marketing campaigns.

When deciding between traditional marketing vs. digital marketing, it’s not true that one is better than the other as they serve different purposes.

The most important aspect here is the fundamentals of marketing remain the same whether it is traditional or Digital. While going Digital is an additional skill of understanding How to market or sell your product in the Digital media, but the basic concepts of marketing remain the same.

It is also a fact that Digital marketers need to understand that Digital marketing can never be a replacement for a weak marketing campaign.

Just because you dump your money in digital campaigns, there is no guarantee that sales will pick up. The primary reason being the basis of marketing is incorrect. The marketing strategy is always contextual, and it does not work always in all places.

Marketing vision /strategy starts with the founder/entrepreneur

Peter Drucker said, “If you want something new, stop doing something old.”

The entrepreneurs/Founders thrive by developing new visions, and they need to be good in devising the marketing strategy. They have to get involved in the Vision’s design statement and marketing strategy.

You can take the global example of Steve Jobs didn’t build the Apple Empire by copying what was already out there — he established a new market by innovating. The founder of the apple had his vision.

He knew his customers. He has changed the old way of using computers. He developed the complete product which the market wanted and the strategy was outstanding and it sold and became number 1.


As I am discussing here Digital marketing, I would like to take a relevant example in India regarding Digital marketing teaching and training in the following lines.

Innovative marketing strategy coupled with consistency and attempts to build trust in long-term results in Brand creation & effortless selling

Deepak kanakaraju is an example who has broken the traditional methods of Teaching and Training and he has thought about his journey differently.

Founder’s Responsibility is to find the right marketing strategy


A tier 2 city middle-class young man with Civil engineering background has made inroads into Digital marketing training in the last ten years and created a niche for himself. Instead, being the No 1, he has created a niche, and he became the only one to set up a personal Brand in the arena of Digital marketing teaching & training in India.

His last ten years of a tireless journey with consistency and content, he has created a brand for himself in the Digital marketing training and mentoring. Once a teacher in a Digital marketing Academy and a salaried employee in multinational companies has come out and created his brand.

Today Google shows his Brand ranking much higher than the Corporate Brand of the Academy he worked earlier. He has created a Digital Deepak Brand and by default became a founder of his empire.

He is successful because he understood the target group, their purchasing power, and their needs. The Digital marketing skills and ten years of hard and smart work have resulted in products that sell by itself for his brand and Trust. He has created a Trust in the system.

He claims this with pride as his discovery. He has coined a new marketing jargon, namely Mass trust created by Deep marketing efforts, which is clear when you closely watch his journey in the last ten years.

From this, I infer that the secret boils down to understanding the gaps in the market and offering the right product for the right customer. The various products which he has been creating and selling as courses required constant marketing efforts as most of them who took the courses never studied the courses. I mean, they never practiced or implemented. For many, it ended with buying and they did not pursue the same seriously. He came out with the intern course where the teaching is through hands-on practice and assignments with money back.

This is a concept nowhere in the country, to my knowledge anywhere in the world, being offered at this point. I call this a blue ocean strategy. (Something different from regular competition)


He has understood the demand and understood the shortfall in the practical learning method in Digital marketing and plugged in a smart program.

I know this as the Digital Deepak Internship program comprising eight weeks of step by step learning with assignments which make the student practice the learning in the online class.

The whole concept became a tremendous success, and he has created a Brand for himself and he is in the spotlight. It takes time to come to the spotlight, but the consistency and continuous thoughts on reframing the marketing strategy will cause getting long-term success.

I infer from this real success story the impact of smart & powerful marketing.

It is also clear that it requires the founder’s involvement in every stage of growth.

The involvement in devising the long-term marketing strategy has resulted in success.

Deepak kanakaraju has several useful digital learning products not matched by anyone in the Digital marketing learning and Training Industry.

The cost leadership in selling basic courses at Rs99/ is not available with other online education portals. He also makes the availability of the course for short courses in mobile and telegram Apps, which makes learning both fun and serious.

These serve as lead magnets to enroll them in other advanced courses.


The most important in these modules are self-learning flexibility with valuable content. The cost of leadership and hands-on and Interactive learning (Internship- unique and differential strategy) compared to the competition has resulted in overall success in sales. It is important to understand that his differential strategy along with cost leadership has brought in Value proposition to anyone who enrolls in the course.

As I had mentioned earlier, this has resulted in building a brand and Mass Trust with all his learners.

The teacher-learner model strategized for automatic conversions of sales leads.

Digitaldeepak.com has value for money. In this collaborative learning system, it makes the interns do hands-on exercise and learn the theory by practice. It motivates the learner for every completed assignment with the cashback offer of money paid towards the course

Digitaldeepak.com returns the entire money on the submission of correct assignments.

The good teaching content builds trust, and on top of it motivating the learners by cashback offers to build trust further.

The cashback offer and refund (100%) of the course fee is a new idea, not followed in the Industry.

This is a Trust success story that builds a funnel of leads as people who have experienced this refer others for the course.

This results in effortless selling, with no deliberate efforts on marketing.

I am sure; he has comprehensive plans for his next journey of institutionalizing this. This proves that the Marketing strategy is the key, and the Founder has to involve himself.

Many successful entrepreneurs have a similar story where they have built an empire on creating Mass trust.

This can also be one of the powerful components of Branding.

Trust leads to Brand, and it grows by building a Mass trust.

Does the above case study explain both the sides that How products/services succeed (Or) fail?

Every founder should create a marketing strategy. If it does not involve the founder in the making of market strategy and the product’s design -the sales will fail.

There are many startup failures because the founder is away from the marketing strategy, or outsourced, where the Founder does not discuss the strategy.

Right communication triggers sales prospect to buy

Communication is very important in marketing.

The right communication to the right person at the right time in the right media increases sales.

The marketing communication includes advertising, direct marketing, branding, packaging, your online presence, printed materials, PR activities, sales presentations, sponsorships, trade show appearances, and more.

The sales communication is communicating with prospects by direct sales team members or any communications shared with the potential sales prospects.

Do not shout- Just communicate the right message

Especially direct response marketing requires a good communication strategy.

The copywriting and direct response marketing involves the best communication to start a call for action from prospects.

Communication needs to be effective to convey the required information to the prospects and need not be complex or verbose with decorative words.

Some organization spends a lot of time in deciding the communication message, but the message may mislead the prospects or can create confusion.

The call for action from the prospect gets delayed or withheld if the communication is not effective.

The companies need to think about how their customers will perceive a marketing or sales communication. Marketing is about perceptions, and there is every reason communication can mislead a prospect. Interpretation of customers also varies as the perception varies.

I read information, which I am reproducing below verbatim

Cadbury India was widely mocked for its Unity Bar, launched with Independence Day in August. They made the bars with four different chocolate: dark, blended milk, and white to show the diversity of India. Despite the Mondale-owned confectionary brand claiming that the bars were a financial success, the Ogilvy-produced campaign was torn down on social media as a poor, impractical attempt at raising awareness on colorism and racism in India. Some even mocked the make-up of the bar being separated by color rather than the squares being randomly colored.

For brand sensitivity, I am not reproducing the link here.

If you are keen to read further, you can Google Cadbury communication.

Does this explain how sensitive communication can become?

Companies need to rethink on perceptions of the customer’s readability of the Ad message, in their communication content in media.

Companies also do not keep in touch with existing customers and forget them once they complete the sale. This results in a reduction of reference, repeat business, or referral business when the company comes out with the next series or alternative models.

Companies also need to be careful while communicating in social media by choosing the right words, as prospects and customers are perceptive of what they read and how they read. I should word it in such a fashion that it cannot be too sensitive a message and cannot trigger wrong sensational emotions.

So communication plays a major role in the acquisition of sales and referrals. The companies which are not clear in their communication strategy lose these opportunities for augmenting the sales.

Mere Digital presence without the right communication style, frequency, and consistency can cause the depletion of Brand value and sales.

Understanding your TG is important for Marketing and sales

Identifying a target group helps to develop effective marketing communication strategies.

A target group is a set of individuals sharing similar needs or characteristics that your company hopes to serve. These individuals are usually the end users most likely to purchase your product.

We can identify the channels of Marketing based on the identification of the target group and buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a research-based profile that depicts a target customer. Buyer personas describe who your ideal customers are, what their days are like, the challenges they face, and how they decide.

Identifying the exact buyer persona helps in addressing our communication strategy to the exact target group. It also results in understanding their purchasing power, which is again useful to price your product.

While I was working for a multi-specialty Hospital, initially we had faced a challenge in patient inflow.

Even the Outpatient inflow was poor, and we were dwindling with revenue. Since we were in the IT corridor, the hospital promoted a new scheme of the employee health check and Pre-employment health checks for new employees who join the organizations in the IT corridor.

We mooted this idea with one leading IT company. It was agreed, and the same was successful.

We started getting the reference from other IT companies in the neighborhood, and we become busy with everyday pre-employment checks. This was a tremendous success.

The profile group was available, but when we design and conceptualize the idea for a corporate requirement, the business unfolds.

This is one practical example; I could understand the niche, target group, and buyer persona

Once we have the target group and buyer persona, it reduces our marketing cost improves our focus, and results in developing a custom fit product to be sold to the target group.

Do not communicate to all- Identify your target group for communication

Understanding the target group, it reduces our marketing costs and improves our sales.

Niche identification is one reason for bringing in revenue.

We will discuss the same in the next aspect.

Despite the best product and best marketing strategies, the company may fail if it does not understand its target customers and understand its buyer persona.

Niche identification and relevant CATT marketing funnel improve sales.

Identification of your Niche involves the crux of marketing and sales.

A niche is a segment of a larger market considered to have its own unique needs, preferences, or identity that makes it different from the market at large.clothing for a fat person is considered a Niche.

Restaurant serving only vegan food considered a Niche.

This is super specialization in short.

what are the benefits of the identification of a Niche market?

When you are in the Big market, there is heavy competition. if you are a niche market, competition is relatively low and not everyone can compete in a niche market.

Also, your products and services should match the need of Niche

Identify your Niche-it eases your competition issues

Niche marketing involves targeting a specific demographic where you identify and sell a specific product or services required for the group. This enables you to channelize all marketing efforts towards one well-defined segment of the population.

Here the Niche identification is the most important aspect. Next comes creating the CATT funnel.

CATT is a sales funnel that will help you build the mass trust of your customers with the help of Digital Marketing. The full form of CATT is Content, Attention, Trust, and Transaction.

Content lubricates your user journey from the first touchpoint (finding out about your brand) to becoming a premium customer and advocate of your brand.

I call it C.A.T.T. — Content, Attention, and Trust & Transaction.

CATT Funnel gets you Sales- Create Funnel first

Good quality content delivers solutions to users. It draws their attention and creates a relationship with you and builds trust.

Once there is a trust built and if you have something useful to show to the user, this enables the transaction.


CONTENT: Good and quality content can bring the best organic traffic content. Content can be anything it can be an email, blog, YouTube Videos, Posters, landing pages, and many more.

ATTENTION: bring the attention of your target customer to your content after creating it. Besides organic traffic; the target customer’s attention is drawn in paid ads to improve traffic. (SEO, Social media, paid ads others)

TRUST: we generate Leads from this traffic by building trust. (Re-targeting marketing automation)

TRANSACTION: Finally, when the target customer trusts your business model. We can convert this to a sale transaction.

Companies need to focus on the CATT funnel and need to focus on building this process into their marketing and sales infrastructure.

We cannot do this in piecemeal and need to integrate into all channels of communication and in all touchpoints with prospects.

The content, drawing attention through various channels, building trust, and finally converting the sales have to happen holistically.

This is like a flowchart, and the process is seamless. Companies that relentlessly follow this model can enhance sales performance when other aspects of Product, quality, and pricing are of no hindrance to prospect.

The CATT model has to be usefully leveraged for good sales conversions.

Integrated Digital marketing augments leads & sales conversions.

Mr. Deepak explains in his article that Integrated Digital Marketing is like a team with content as the leader and the various other digital marketing methods are like its team members.

Integrated digital marketing is, as it sounds, integrating multiple marketing strategies to form a cohesive online approach for your business


The CATT model and Integrated Digital marketing strategy coexist.

The integrated Digital marketing uses all the Digital marketing channels available and uses every channel effectively to give the best results.

I am sharing with you my brief thoughts for a better understanding.

Content: Quality and relevant content brings in attention, establishes geniuses, and builds trust with the customer.

Email: This is the best and age-old tool effective in reaching out to your customers, especially when prospects choose you as subscribe. This is best to remind your prospects of your messages and make them buy your product /services.

Social Media: Email is personal whereas social media is public. Most of the times you get feedback from this channel, which will help you understand your customer.

IDM works magic- Exploit the components of IDM

Search: This enables customers to find your content and your offers by directly searching for it. Performing a page SEO and deliver a good quantity of leads.

Ads: Paid ads in the integrated digital marketing process is like a catalyst and can improve your ROI.

In any company, the Integrated Digital marketing process has to work in coordination of the overall Digital marketing strategy where content is like a driver.

Quality contents can bring attention; engage prospects and results in trust.

Trust leads to conversions.

This process is important for overall lead generation and effective sales conversions for any company.

Companies that ignore the details of the IDM concept may face challenges in drawing attention, leads, and conversions.

The brand is a sales Driver

As written by Mr. Deepak in his article, one of the secrets to building a big online brand, especially in the internet’s age is to have a tiny barrier of entry to a product experience. Allow the customer to understand and experience the glimpses of the product and service.

It is like Deepak spends an hour with his registered subscriber base, to explain in a free webinar what is Lead automation, what is Affiliate marketing, etc.

Now coming to expenses on building a brand.

Is it prudent to spend huge money on building a Brand?

The answer is yes and No.

Because to popularize a brand, you can spend a considerable amount of money, but beyond a point, Brand spending has no meaning. Instead, you can think of adding value to your customers instead of dumping money in Branding.

When you give free products and services as a sample, this can attract more prospects and it can create brand engagement. Brand engagement is more powerful than Brand impressions.


For example, Uber gives free rides to attract customers and creates a relationship, and the customers keep using Uber services from thereon. Even though companies spend a lot of money on building the brand through expensive ads on TV, Newspaper to establish their Brand it is sometimes more unlikely that customers will engage with a brand.

Even though a reasonable amount spent on this kind of expensive branding exercise, but it is a proven formula that the freebies give a much better impact. Freebies keep and bring repeat business from the same customers and improve billing value.

you can read more about Brand engagement in the Digital Deepaks blog. For more info visit here

Similarly, referrals bring in more sales, with little cost. Despite Brand, Customers who buy property use Referrals to invest in properties, Referrals play a major role in driving sales.

You want to read more about How to Invest in Real estate, you can visit my blog page. Brand engagement happens when we deliver freebies to existing customers. Mere Brand spends on promotion does not result in sales.


No one buys products just because you have advertised or present heavily in Digital or traditional media.

People buy only when they are given what they are looking for.

Companies fail in sales if they don’t understand the fundamental aspects of Marketing irrespective of the fact they have a powerful presence in the digital or traditional media.

To achieve this, the concept of marketing is to be deployed in all aspects.

The Entrepreneur/Founder needs to understand the fundamentals of marketing and need to get involved starting from product design, product-market fit, Identification of niche & target group, lead generation, nourishing the lead funnel, communication, attracting prospects, building a funnel, building trust, and finally sales.

Many companies do not understand the above, hence they cannot peak sales.

Any money spent has to result in ROI, which needs to bring in sales.

Digital media money spent has to be directly proportional to sales revenue and the returns need to be multiple times.

Now to conclude -Why are customers not buying despite huge Digital spending? I am sure if you have read up to this point, you will now know the answer by this time.

If you like this article or would like to leave suggestions — please do so.

You can also check out my blogs from here.




Marketing & Sales consultant