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Inbound Marketing

Account-Based Marketing - How to Define Your Ideal Customer Profile


For countless years, marketing teams attracted new leads by casting a wide net and hoping for a bite. In some scenarios, they did this without little thought, in a tactic that makes most marketers squirm: “spraying and praying.”

Obviously, this is not true for every marketer, but the prevalence of these strategies led to account-based marketing (ABM). ABM focuses on generating revenue from a carefully crafted list of target accounts, instead of a generalized buyer persona. Since coming onto the inbound marketing scene, ABM has exploded in popularity, mainly due to its successes.

Before you run off to your boss with content ideas for an ABM strategy, you first need to define your ideal customer profile (ICP). Without it, you won’t have a reference to create your first list of target accounts, and you won’t be able to curate the right marketing material at the appropriate time.

Here’s an overview of setting up an ICP.

What Is An ICP?

As noted, an ICP is your ideal client profile or a description of the kind of company you want to work with, or you believe it is a perfect fit for your company. So, instead of saying, “We want to work with X Company,” think more along the lines of, “Our team works well with a B2B company with 100 employees, located in the Southwest region of the U.S., have a large marketing department who are skilled at automation software, and make at least $1 million in revenue annually.”

To develop an example like that, you’ll need to look for specific company-wide and personal characteristics.

Company Characteristics to Look For

You may already be able to point out similarities between companies you currently work with to whom you deliver your best work. Are they all B2C? Are they located in the same geographic location? Find out for sure by zeroing in on these characteristics:

  • Industry or business vertical
  • Annual revenue
  • Budget (particularly for your type of solution)
  • Location
  • Technology stack and their maturity with it
  • Size of their customer base
  • Overview of their sales process
  • How they research vendors/third party suppliers
  • How they onboard new vendors or services
  • Their growth profiles
  • Their competitive environment
  • The number of employees – company-wide and within the key departments you’d be working with. Note: when you’re looking at individual employees, look at what skills they need to perform their job, who they report to, what they do, and how their performance is measured

Personal Characteristics to Look For

Not only do you want to look at a company as a whole, but you’ll want to look for certain traits among the people within that company you’ll be working with. After all, you want to market to the decision-maker in a target account, and you’ll want to have a good relationship from day 1. Ask yourself:

  • What are the personal characteristics of your best current clients?
  • What makes your working relationship with a point of contact positive?
  • What clients do you enjoy working with, and why?
  • What do you value in people in general - your coworkers, your management, your clients?
  • Is there any client, person, or company that you are not excited to engage with?
  • For certain individuals (and the company as a whole), what are the challenges and pain points they face that would drive them to hire you?

How to Find This Information

If you’re overwhelmed about locating these details, don’t be. There are several methods to getting the data you need to define your ICP. They include:

  • Interviews with similar clients, companies, target personas you’ve identified in the past
  • Websites of target accounts you’ve considered, but haven’t defined completely yet
  • Doing a roundtable with your departments to ask them what they believe makes a good fit for the company – try asking them the personal characteristic’s questions from above!
  • Your CRM and marketing automation platforms - contact info, emails, meeting notes, and more
    Forums and industry research like reports or documents published by similar clients or ones you’ve identified
  • Customer review sites like TrustPilot, Google, G2

Get Started

Now that you have some guidance on crafting your ideal clients, you can start outlining yours. You can then begin narrowing down your target accounts, and before you know it, you’ll be off to the ABM races. For any help with ICPs, messaging, or overall tactics, don’t hesitate to reach out.
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