Identifying Potential Customers Before They Buy


Can you identify a potential new customer? Does your business identify potential customers before they buy your product? Chances are, it doesn't, and if it does, it probably doesn't do it well. Successful businesses categorize potential customers at different phases and address the needs of the customers at different phases of the buying cycle. For years, I have worked with businesses to flesh out the characteristics that define their potential new customers ("PNCs"), but almost all potential customers share some common traits. Identifying these traits can help your business generate better quality customers and bigger revenues.


The lowest level and most common potential customer is what I call a "drive-by" PNC. Drive-by PNCs are characterized by a low-level of interaction and knowledge of your company, its philosophy, brand, or products. These PNCs have seen your billboard on the road, the sign above your door, or your jingle on the radio, but they have not taken any steps to learn more about your company or its offerings.

Most Drive-By PNCs are gained through traditional forms of advertising such as radio, television, outdoor, and now pay-per-click advertising. These forms of advertising are characterized by their high visibility, heavy traffic, and high financial cost.

Unfortunately, most businesses start and end with traditional forms of advertising in hopes of attracting Drive-By PNCs. One of the most common mistakes I hear is that the effort is worth the expense because at the very least, advertising builds the brand. Nothing could be further from the truth. Advertising that does not generate customers is the definition of ineffective marketing.


The next level of PNC is the "Window-Watcher," which is categorized by a moderate level of knowledge of your company, but a low level of interaction with it. Window-Watcher PNCs probably have looked in your store window, gone to your website, or followed your respective social media accounts, but they have not purchased any products, signed up for your mailing list, or called your number.

Most Window-Watchers are attracted by something about your company, whether it is your company's philosophy, products, or just its location. However, there is something preventing them from interacting with and buying from your company.

Window-Watchers are often the most abused of your company's PNCs. They are written off as cheapskates, fickle, or even unintelligent (for instance, how many times have you said, "They will never buy [your product] because they just don't get it?" However, the reason Window-Watchers aren't your current customers is often something YOU are doing to discourage them. Is your product easy to understand? Does it work in the way your customers want it to work? Is it reasonably priced? These are questions you should be asking Window-Washers, because THEY will tell you how to get them to buy from you, if only you listened.


"Damsels" are PNCs that need you to rescue them, figuratively speaking. Damsels are categorized as having a high level of knowledge of your company and a moderate level of interaction, but they haven't bought anything yet.

Damsels have probably been associating with your company for a while, reading your emails, interacting on social media, even calling your phone number, but they won't put money down.

Like damsels in distress in fairy tales, Damsel PNCs need you to make the first move. They probably need to be courted (called and asked for their business), suaded (one-time discount or guarantee), or rescued (beat out their current vendor). Damsel PNCs, once won over, are loyal customers who just need someone else to put themselves out there, because they don't want to seem desperate.

Identifying Potential Customers

These are only a few of the PNC archetypes out there. Failing to identify a PNC could mean that they never cross the line into a paying customer. Successful companies routinely identify, categorize, sort, and attract PNCs according to a comprehensive management plan. If you need help developing a marketing plan for your business, set up a no-obligation consult today.