I'm currently doing an Applied Business assignment based on Business Planning - we had to generate our own business idea, including creating aims and objectives for the business. I've decided for one of my objectives to be "To raise awareness of the business amongst..." (where the '...' is the word I'm looking for). I can't put "To raise awareness of the business amongst new customers", because they aren't actually customers yet.
"Prospective customer" could be used considering that the person is not the customer yet but is likely to become.
I think in your sentence that "potential customers" or "our target customer/audience" work.
When I am developing sales apps though the common buzz terms are:
And based on the comments I would like to add some content. Potential customer has the best connotation. As target customer isn't bad at all either. However I find lead and prospect to be dehumanizing. Opportunity kind of falls in between and I would surely never call a potential customer an opportunity to their face.
To give perspective to the general rules of using lead, opportunity, and prospect my company (LOTS of employees globally) uses the following rules (which my programs abide by):
lead - information that we obtain through research or outside companies researching. Think of these as more or less cold call lists.
prospect - these people were obtained because they showed interest or were referred. So if someone goes to one of our many websites and fills out a form asking for info on something then they become a prospect. [Side note: you went to a website 5 years ago and filled out a form. That company goes out of business. Before they close the doors they make an extra 20K selling all of their contact info to a research company. People can't sue them for privacy laws because their business is gone. - that prospect is now a lead at (many) other companies.] Also if you are talking to Jack at XYZ and he says Lisa at ABC would want the product, same thing.
opportunity - these people are usually people who work for businesses that we already have relationships/contracts with. For instance if a sales person is auditing an account and sees that all of company XYZs finance department uses one of our products but that finance department has three more head count - those are opportunities. Tons of examples on these. It could be simply someone who uses a product and we can upgrade them to new product or different product.
I am not saying the three descriptions above are written in stone. They are an example of what a very large company uses and I am sure that many companies are similar. But there is variation and there are a lot of grey areas - and I am constantly having to fine tune my apps because of disagreements in management on how to classify a certain instance. In the sales world the difference is a big deal because each has its own %-to-sale. So if we label something an opportunity which revenue is more likely to happen and it is actually a lead then if a set of sales reps encounter this their trend numbers will be down - and they could get fired.
prospects would be most appropriate although that does not sound as slick as prospectives. consumer/s might also apply especially nowadays that we also consume ideas, media, and information.
here are synonyms from Collins Cobuild Dictionary: buyer, client, consumer, habitué, patron, prospect, purchaser, regular
In a business planning context, I would prefer:
Source: I have an MBA
If you're looking for your ideal customer (as opposed to a PITA customer) it might be your niche.
If it's a small business, the word you might be looking for is community.
Depending on what your business is, "a mark" might be appropriate :)
Are you perhaps looking for potential clientele?
- Customer - Someone who is contractually obligated to give you money in exchange for your product/service
- Opportunity - Generic term for someone who is not contractually obligated to give you money in exchange for your product/service
- Lead is an Opportunity that you have contact information for BUT has not been qualified as someone who could be interested in your product (Cold Sales)
- Prospect is an Opportunity that you have contact information for AND has been vetted as someone who is interested in your product or who has deep enough pockets that you want them to be your customer (Qualified Leads)