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Inbound Marketing

Why ICPs Are Becoming More Useful Than Buyer Personas


Ideal client profiles and buyer personas. If you’re in marketing, you’ve heard both terms. But do buyer personas still hold the weight they used to? Both buyer personas and ideal client profiles can be crucial to your marketing strategy, but which should you use to target buyers?  

In the B2B world, ICPs are quickly becoming the go-to over buyer personas. Let’s find out why. 

What is an Ideal Client Profile?

An ideal client profile, or ICP, is the “perfect” company for your organization’s product or service. In other words, it’s a semi-fictitious company that embodies all the qualities that you believe make them a good fit for your services. According to HubSpot, ICPs will help you “build marketing materials that are relevant to only your best types of clients, and learn to go after and sell to these valuable brands, which will save your agency time, money, and effort.”

For example, maybe you are a software company looking to sell your solution to other companies.  Creating an ICP will help you get really deep into a type of company’s issues so you can focus your messaging on their pain points and goals and then target that messaging to all the people involved in making buying decisions within that company. If it solves their business problem, it will help them personally (buyer personas come in on this personal level).

The characteristics that help carve out an ICP can include:

  • Budget
  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Geography
  • Legality
  • Service limitations
  • Customer bases
  • Annual revenue
  • Technology stacks
  • Pain points/challenges
  • Goals

What is a Buyer Persona?

Like an ICP, a buyer persona is another semi-fictitious representation, but instead of a company, a buyer persona is a generalized representation of your customer(s) on an individual level. They 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. 

Why Are ICPs Better for B2B?

Having ICPs and buyer personas in place can help move your ABM campaigns forward, but buyer personas tend to be a bigger lift for marketers. Instead of writing a profile for just one company, you’re writing buyer personas for anyone within that company with buying power. You could be writing anywhere from seven to 20 buyer personas! 

After you write those personas, you then have to create content that matches each persona — an even bigger lift to make sure you’re targeting them correctly.  With an ICP, you can focus on how we solve the company’s problems and let each persona plug themselves into that story of how it benefits them personally.

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.  

Updating ICPs

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. 

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