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Creating an ideal customer profile for your B2B SaaS or tech business is a tried and tested technique for generating more leads. But, it still amazes me how few B2B businesses still can’t articulate theirideal customer profile. Having your teams armed with a honed and well prepared ideal customer profile (ICP) they will have all the information that they need about your audience to make your marketing and sales activity more targeted and more effective. The strength of your ICP can have a significant influence on the success of your campaigns, so it needs to be a priority for any business.
Putting together a quality ideal customer profile doesn’t have to take too much time. It’s a fairly straightforward process, and you can then use your ICP to generate the leads that your business needs.
By reading this article you will learn:
- What is an ideal customer profile?
- Why is an ideal customer profile important for B2B lead generation?
- How can an ideal customer profile be used in B2B lead generation?
- How to create an ideal customer profile?
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Framework
The aim of an ideal customer profile is to provide a description of a fictional organisation that can derive value from your product/service. At the same time, the business should derive significant value from the fictional organisation. Whereas you might use customer personas to help with communication on the individual level, a B2B company benefits from building a profile of the ideal organisation for the company to deal with at a broader level. Of course, the fictional organisation is a representation of the very real customers that you want to seek.
An ideal customer profile framework is specific to the goals and offering of an individual business. It’s designed to represent the type of customer that your business should focus on requiring so that it can inform marketing campaigns and more. Although the ideal customer profile is a fictitious company, it is created using facts and evidence that help to inform it.
To create an ideal customer profile, you need to identify the ways in which you can offer value to the business. Knowing how you can address their pain points and help their bottom line is essential. The value that they can offer you in return includes the payment that you receive for your product/service, but can also include things like referrals, feedback, testimonials, customer insights and brand advocacy.
ICP and B2B Lead Generation
Focusing on creating high quality leads is vital for a B2B company. Creating an ideal customer profile is an important part of the lead generation process, and it’s something that you should do before tackling other stages of your lead generation campaigns. The ideal customer profile will help to inform any further actions to increase the likelihood of generating more leads. After creating an ideal customer profile, you can then go on to identify and advertise to potential leads from a more informed and targeted position.
The more specific your customer profile is, the more you can focus your marketing and sales activities. You can identify and target the most high-quality leads so that your budget and your efforts can go as far as possible. Focusing on high-quality leads raises your chances of securing valuable sales. Instead of wasting time and money going after leads that will go nowhere, you can be much more certain that the organisations you’re targeting are going to turn into successful leads and eventually sales.
Having your ideal customers defined can also help to increase referrals, generating more leads through the customer loyalty of your existing clients. When you know your ideal customer well, you know how to deliver value to their business and they’ll be grateful for what you can do for them.
With your ideal customer profile at the ready, you can create short-lists of companies to focus on and track buying signals to help perfect your timing. A well-developed ICP improves your B2B lead generation, making your business more productive and making the most of your sales and marketing budget.
Using your ICP in B2B lead generation
When you have created an ideal customer profile for your business, you need to know how to use it to generate leads and get the results that you want. Once your ideal customer profile has been defined, you can use it to give you criteria to discover the best leads. You can use your ideal customer profile to both take a look at your existing customers and customer data model to help you find new ones. For lead generation, you might start with a list of potential leads that fit a broad criteria, and you can then narrow them down to the most likely high-value clients. You might source lists of potential leads from competitors, website traffic and elsewhere to start finding the best high-value leads.
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As well as helping you to target the right leads, your ideal customer persona can make it easier to create effective content and marketing campaigns to attract those leads. When you have information such as the location of your ideal customer, which social platforms they use or which tools they’re using, you can improve your ad targeting but also ensure you make the right choices regarding content and creative choices for marketing campaigns.
Your ideal customer profile makes it easier to be accurate and create valuable campaigns by focusing on:
- Personalisation of communication methods and content
- Content strategy to support
- Market segmentation
- Keyword research and SEO
- Sales process and sales efficiency
You can begin by finding the right leads through market segmentation and SEO keyword research. Your ideal customer profile gives you the information that you need to segment your target customers using a variety of criteria and demographics. Writing different ideal customer profiles for different market segments is a good idea if you want to be able to create marketing campaigns and more that are specific to a range of customers.
An ICP makes SEO easier by providing key information that will help with identifying keywords. For example, understanding what stage of the buying process your prospects are at will help with finding out what sort of words and phrases they might be searching for and what kinds of questions they might be asking. Knowing where they’re located and information like what social media platforms they use makes it possible to improve SEO in a number of ways, from finding keywords to publishing the right content.
When developing a content strategy and personalising communication methods and content, an ideal customer profile informs your decisions. You can refer to the ICP to ensure all marketing materials are tailored to your preferred customers. It should contain relevant information that tells you what your prospects are looking for so that you can focus on bringing in more leads. Your content and communication methods, such as social media, can be customised to meet the wants and needs of leads that you’re trying to attract.
As well as helping with your marketing, creating ideal customer profiles should also serve as a useful tool for sales and sales efficiency. Just as an ICP can help to bring in leads through inbound and outbound sales strategy and marketing, you can also use it to improve the way you interact with sales prospects at any point in the sales journey. An ideal customer profile identifies the pain points of a company, as well as the things that will be most likely to convince decision makers at the company that they need your product or service.
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After creating an ideal customer profile, also creating buyer personas is a good way to improve lead generation. The ideal customer profile presents a picture of the organisations that you want to target, but the buyer personas allow you to consider who the decision makers are. Understanding who you are trying to connect with at the individual level is just as important as having an understanding of the organisations that you want to target. Your ideal customer profile will help to inform these personas.
How to create an Ideal Customer Profile
Creating an ideal customer profile doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are various important steps that should be taken to get it right.
The best place to start is with existing customers. This will help you to understand your current audience and which organisations are a perfect fit for your offering. You can take a look at your current accounts and order them by how much value they bring to your business. Choosing your best ten customers can help you to create more focus if you don’t want to have to look at all of your customers together. You can take a look at a number of different factors to start defining the most important things about your customers.
Some of the things that you could define include:
- Common pain points
If you don’t have current customers that you can examine because you’re starting a new business, you can find the information that you need elsewhere. Do some market research and take a look at your competitors to find out what sort of clients you should be taking. As your business grows, you can adjust your ideal customer profile to fit your business specifically.
Your should find the data you need for the different attributes of your clients so that you can use it to create your ideal customer profile. When determining the industry of your clients, you might need to get more specific to understand your ideal customer better. Similarly, a location for the leads that you want might be fairly broad or you might narrow it down to a more localised area. When dealing with online organisations, thinking about language might be more important. Employee size is another data point that you should consider for your clients.
Another type of data to consider is technographic data. Some products require a certain technical environment or isn’t compatible with certain apps or systems. It’s essential to make sure that any potential new customers are actually able to make use of your products, so understanding their technological setup is important. For example, if you’re selling software, you need to consider whether it integrates with existing apps and what other technology your customers typically use. This type of data can help to understand the company culture of a business from their technology habits.
To get all of the information that you need and get your ideal customer profile, asking a series of questions is a good idea. If you keep the same list of questions, you can use it any time you might want to make a new ideal customer profile or update an existing one.
Some of the questions that you might want to ask include:
Basic Company Information
- How big is the organisation? Look at their revenue, customers, employees and more.
- How big is the most relevant department in the business?
- What job titles might be relevant?
- Which industry, sector or niche is the organisation in?
- Does the organisation recruit from any particular colleges?
- Which companies have employees previously worked for?
- Does the business hire from outside or promote from within?
- How long has the organisation been in business?
- Where are they located?
Pain Points and Goals
- What could stop them from choosing your offering?
- What is the one thing that makes your offer the one they should choose?
- What goal your solution help organisations to meet?
- What is their decision making process like?
- What is their main pain point?
- Which three features are most important?
- Which industry publications and websites are they interested in?
- What is their awareness stage?
Operations, History and Company Culture
- Have they had any recent personnel changes, restructuring or other significant events?
- What seasonal factors might play a part in decision making?
- How have changed in the economy or industry affected them?
- Which social media platforms do they use?
- What is the company culture like? What are their values?
- How are they positioned in the market?
- Which trade groups and associations do they belong to?
- What is their approach to risk?
- What’s their relationship with technology?
- Which distribution channels do they use?
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You might even find it beneficial to interview some of your clients to get some of this information. If you decide to do this, you can offer them something in return for their time. That way, you both benefit from the interview. Interviewing your current customers can help you to collect both quantitative and qualitative information and you could get more from interviews than simply doing research yourself. A survey might also be easy for your clients to fill in, although in-person interviews can give you the opportunity to get as much information as possible.
One you have all of the data that you need, you need to turn it into an ideal customer profile description. The description helps to distill your information into something manageable that it represented as a fictional business organisation. The description should be clear and concise, with a fair amount of detail but without being too long. It might include the size of the business that you’re looking for, where they’re located and what their budget is. The description can encapsulate all of the prospects that you want to target, from the highest to lowest value accounts. You can rank accounts based on the data points that you have already defined.
There are various ways that you can put together a complete ideal customer profile, and you can follow a number of different templates. Some of the things that you might want to include on your ideal client profile are listed below:
- Company background
- Business goals
- Challenges and pain points
- How the company wants to address their challenges
- The company’s purchasing process and decision making process
- Marketing awareness stage
- Company culture and values
- Technology use
You can format the profile in the way that you feel works for your business. Make sure to include a description so that you have a short and concise way to refer to your idea customer.
In addition to an ideal customer profile, you might also consider buyer personas to further expand on your ICP. This allows you to consider the individuals who are making the decisions at their companies in more depth. To put together buyer personas, you can use some of the information that you might already have from your ideal customer profile. For example, you can include the job titles of key contacts and who the key decision makers are within the company or relevant department. It’s also a good idea to consider which KPIs might be shared by certain industries or sectors, as well as the common complaints and pain points that they have. Your buyer personas for individual decision makers and points of contact can include their background, demographics and interests.
Ideal customer profiles deliver a lot of value to your business. It gives your marketing and sales activities more focus so that you can concentrate on securing high-quality leads instead of wasting time and money on trying to secure leads that might not go anywhere. You can create better quality marketing and sales campaigns that bring more value for your business. If you want to generate more and better leads for your B2B business, creating an ideal customer profile is a must.