How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile

02/09/2024 5 min read Written by Megan Combs

Ideal client/customer 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 (ICPs) can be crucial to your marketing strategy, but which should you use to target buyers?  

Rather than buyer personas, ICPs are quickly becoming the go-to in many industries. In this blog, we’ll discuss what an ICP is, how to use it, and its benefits.

What is an Ideal Client Profile?

An ideal client profile, or ICP, represents 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 make it a good fit for your product or services. According to HubSpot, ICPs will help you “build marketing materials 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 dive 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 company decision-makers. If it solves their business problem, it will also 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 target customers 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.

Create buyer personas using real research and interviews with your existing customers.

Related: How to Create a Buyer Persona: the What and the Why

Ideal Customer Profile vs. Buyer Persona

First off, ICPs and buyer personas are not engaged in any kind of duel — they work together!

As we’ve touched on above, having both ICPs and buyer personas is essential for successful marketing campaigns. For one thing, they each expound on the other. Your ICP informs marketing and sales teams on the accounts they should target. Your buyer personas advise you on the type of individuals you create content for — whether they work in one of your target accounts or not.

Your ICP will also help your sales reps understand which prospects are qualified leads. When they know what type of account they should focus on, they won’t waste time going after the wrong types of customers. 

In addition, your buyer personas will help inform sales as to WHO they should market to in an ICP.

Related: How to Write a Customer Feedback Survey Email 

Benefits of Having Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)

All in all, ICPs give you a well-rounded look at who you’re trying to target. They give you a 35,000-foot view of the company you’re trying to market to rather than an individual within. 

According to HubSpot, organizations with strong ICPs achieve 68% higher account win rates than their counterparts.

A strong ICP also improves:

  • Sales process
  • Content and personalization efforts
  • Lead quality
  • Close rates
  • Client retention
  • Brand loyalty
  • Audience segmentation
  • Keyword research

Why ICPs Are Better for B2B Company Marketing

Having ICPs and buyer personas in place can help move your account-based marketing (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.

How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile

Creating an ICP is similar to creating a buyer persona, but the data you collect will be different. Here are the steps for creating your ICP.

    1. Do the research: As with anything else, you can’t go into it blind. Gather the data you’ve already collected through your CRM, and don’t forget to talk to your customer-facing teams. Your boots-on-the-ground teammates interact with customers daily and can give you the scoop on who they are and what they need.
    2. Look for trends: As you analyze your data, find customer behaviors you would qualify as ideal. You may group clients by revenue, spending, sales cycle length, etc. 
    3. List demographics and firmographics: Demographics may include industry, decision-makers, location, company size, etc. Firmographics will help you categorize organizations. This data includes industry, location, contact info, website, revenue, turnover, number of employees, organizational structure, monthly expenses/budget, and more.
    4. Talk to your customers: Here are a few questions to ask your customers about how they found their way to you.
      1. What pain point led you to seek out our product?
      2. What are your company’s other pain points?
      3. Who benefits most from using our product?
      4. What other B2B solutions do you use?
      5. What is your company and industry outlook over the next few years?
    5. List the ways your product or service can help:Now that you have a pretty good idea of who your ideal customer is, map out the ways your company can help them.

Just like buyer personas, your ICPs will change over time. Revisit them if there are any major changes within your company or theirs. Situations that warrant an update may include mergers/acquisitions, product/service changes, target market shifts, or business strategy changes.

Related: Mastering Lead Nurturing: Your Guide to Converting Leads Into Customers 

Refine Your Strategy with an Ideal Customer Profile

When you have a holistic view of your ideal customer, it’s easier to create marketing and sales campaigns that are sure to succeed. If you don’t have the bandwidth to create these profiles on your own, reach out to our team. Lynton is stacked with experts who can help you find and target your audience with the right message at the right time.

By: Megan Combs

With a background in magazine journalism, Megan channels her love of the English language and grammar into her writing and editing. Before joining Lynton, Megan was a top content marketer at a digital marketing agency, where she helped clients translate their brand promises into strategic digital and social media messages.

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