What is an ideal customer profile?
An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a collection of all the traits and qualities that a company’s most valuable potential customers possess.
For a simple example, a B2B marketing team might realize that medium-sized businesses that are involved in the service industry are their best customers. In reality, a real ideal customer profile will contain many other factors (such as geographic location, number of employees, etc.).
The key is that an ideal customer profile is not a description of an individual buyer or end user. Rather, it’s a tool you can use to compare many different potential buyers.
Knowing which leads are the most similar to your ideal customer profile helps companies that use account-based marketing to target the most promising leads.
Why do you need an ideal customer profile?
Companies that don’t have a strong understanding of who they’re selling to will have problems with both lead generation and targeting.
An ideal customer profile helps marketing and product teams build effective strategies for reaching customers whose needs and pain points would be solved by their product. And the better you understand your ideal customer profile, the better you can create a road map for future updates and improvements to your products or services.
Let’s take a look at a few more benefits of having an ideal customer profile:
- Your ideal customer profile helps you qualify leads and create messages for your target audience.
- Customer support can also benefit from knowing about your ideal customer profile so that they can better understand your user’s needs and problems.
- An ideal customer profile saves time and effort in your sales process, which means that it also saves money.
How to identify your ideal customer profile?
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of what ideal customer profiles are and how they’re useful for marketing and sales teams, let’s look at how you can create an ideal customer profile for your own business.
All of the following factors can be included in an ideal customer profile:
- Budget/revenue: How expensive is your product or service? Can only companies with a huge budget afford to buy from you, or are you more accessible?
- Company size: Does your product or service make more sense for a small business or a large enterprise?
- Geography: Is your business geographically limited? If so, your ideal customer profile has to include the region that you serve.
- Industry: Are you focused on a single industry, or can your product be adopted by a company in any industry?
- Technology: Do your customers need to be at a specific level of technological proficiency? Are you pitching a high-tech upgrade?
- Legal issues: Do legal issues limit where or to whom you can sell your product/service? This can be a result of regulations, patents, or many other issues.
Ideal customer profile vs. Buyer persona
Although they are similar, ideal customer profiles and buyer personas are not the same.
Both are about understanding your customers, but here’s the key difference: an ideal customer profile represents the ideal type of company or organization that your business wants to sell to, while a buyer persona represents an individual (the ideal customer for your brand).
How to create an ideal customer profile?
Many ideal customer profile templates are available on the internet. Before you start working with an ideal customer profile template, though, you should go through the following steps.
Step 1. Examine your customer base
Your first step should be asking the right questions about your current customer base. Here are some examples:
- What kind of tools and services are they using?
- Where are they located?
- What are their main pain points?
- How long have they been in business?
- Which industry or niche are they serving?
- What is the size of the organization in terms of customers, employees, and revenue?
- What does their buying process look like?
- How do they position themselves in the market?
Step 2. Analyze what you can provide
Next, it’s time to analyze how your service or product solves the problems or addresses the pain points that your potential customers are dealing with.
This can bring you closer to developing a winning sales proposition for your ideal customer. Try to identify the best way for your service or product to help your customers.
Step 3. Contact your current customers
If you’re struggling to answer any of the above questions from a customer’s perspective, you can always ask your current customers directly.
This is one of the best ways to get quality data and insights about their experiences. Ideally, you’ll get some ideas for how to improve things, too. If your customers are satisfied, they’ll always be willing to give you feedback.
Step 4. Prioritize and implement
Now that you’ve gathered all the customer data you need, it’s time to decide which parts are the most important.
Some customer features (like location) might not be too important, but others (like size) might be crucial. Or it could be the opposite— it all depends on the unique features of your business. Once you’ve narrowed down the most important customer features, you can clearly see your ideal customer profile.
You can then identify opportunities for sales by using your ideal customer profile to qualify your leads.