ICP vs. Buyer Personas- Why Both are Important for ABM

12/01/2020 3 min read Written by Corie Stark

Ideal client profiles. Buyer personas. If you’re in marketing, you’ve heard both terms. You know they sound similar, and you recognize they’re both critical to your marketing strategy. But they are indeed different, and understanding the two’s subtleties can accelerate your account-based marketing growth.

What is an Ideal Client Profile?

An ideal client profile, or ICP, is the “perfect” customer for your organization’s solution. It’s not necessarily one person, but rather, a semi-fictitious company that embodies all the qualities that you believe make them a good fit for your services. For instance, do you enjoy diving headfirst into a complex challenge? If so, a business with pressing, unique challenges may be a part of your ICP.

ICPs help you develop target accounts based on specific characteristics (like the made-up scenario above), so you can focus on actual, individual companies in your marketing campaigns. That is, in essence, ABM, after all!

The characteristics that help carve out an ICP can include:

  • Budget
  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Geography
  • Legality
  • Service limitations
  • Their customer bases
  • Their annual revenue
  • Their technology stacks
  • And more

What is a Buyer Persona?

Like an ICP, a buyer persona is another semi-fictional representation. Yet, instead of a company, a buyer persona is a generalized representation of your customer(s) that account for personal demographics, career goals, motivators, needs, and challenges they’re facing in their roles and companies. If an ICP is a target account, then a buyer persona would be a target audience member.

You create buyer personas based on real research and interviews with your current customers. The characteristics you should look for to develop a buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Education
  • Hobbies or interests
  • Home and work location
  • Job title and function
  • Challenges at work
  • Frustrations and successes at work
  • Decision-making status
  • And more

How Do They Correlate?

ICPs and buyer personas are linked, and having both in place can help flesh out the other and move your ABM campaigns forward. You’ll want to ensure your ICP informs your marketing and sales teams on the accounts they should be targeting. Your buyer personas should advise you on the type of individuals that they’re creating content for – whether they work in one of your target accounts or not. By doing this, you can also help your sales team better prospect and prepare for consultations and demos.

Your ICP can also help your sales executives initially qualify leads. With a type of account they should focus on, they’ll know not to waste their time on an organization that’s too small or too big or another precipitating factor.  You can then look at your buyer personas to see if there is an individual within your ICP that you should sell or market to. An ICP is vital for company and customer happiness – but an actual person within a business will eventually sign off on buying your service!

Other Notes

It’s always important to remember that neither your ICP nor your buyer personas are set in stone. They’ll grow alongside you, and it’s frankly best to revisit them from time to time. You may discover that a piece of your ICP no longer makes sense and uncover a new target account that has a buyer persona you’ve actively been creating material for. Or, you may discover that your buyer personas are too broad and could use some optimizing. No matter the case, always make an effort to revise because when you have solid ICP and buyer personas in hand, you can narrow down exact accounts and wow specific users with great content and more.

Need help building out either? We’re here! Reach out for a consultation.

By: Corie Stark

After spending many years as a sports journalist, Corie switched to marketing in 2013. Her love of writing, talking to people, and keeping up with the industry enables her to use her skills for anything from social media to long-form blogging. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and making her cats chase the ever elusive red dot.

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