defining your ideal customer profile

How to Define an Ideal Customer Profile in 5 Steps

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) advises your organization on the most high-yielding accounts to target by defining ideal common qualities. An ICP is different from a buyer persona. 

While a buyer persona outlines the individual leads you should market to and try to sell to, an Ideal Customer Profile is a profile you can create to define an account that is most likely to buy. We’ll further define the Ideal Customer Profile and outline in five simple steps how you can create one for your business.

What’s an ideal customer profile?

An ICP analysis leaves you with an outline of the best account your business should pursue. The Ideal Customer Profile outlines the qualities your business should look for in your current customers and customers you’re looking to acquire. It helps free up resources to focus on other tasks instead of wasting time on accounts that won’t convert because you’re targeting them without a framework in place.

ICP analysis is most efficient if your business is already using Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Since ICPs are based on accounts and not individual leads, ABM strategies highlight the bigger picture of accounts. It’s this data that you’ll use to develop your ICP.

Why do you need an Ideal Customer Profile?

ICPs narrow your acquisition and retention focus. Instead of targeting a wide variety of accounts, many of which might take a long time to convert through the pipeline (an expensive process), you can hone in on the accounts more likely to convert in a shorter amount of time. You’ll acquire warm leads that fit within the scope of your business, not leads that will fill the pipeline and overwhelm your sales and marketing teams.

ICPs save money and resources by focusing on more distinct lead generation with a higher rate of success. It will also help align your business’s teams by providing them with one common goal (account type) to pursue.

How to build an Ideal Customer Profile

Step 1: Distinguishing your best customers

Your ICP analysis starts by distinguishing your best, existing customers. Find out which of your accounts offers your business the most benefits, such as value, money, loyalty, and growth opportunities. If you can find ten of your best customers, you’ll have a solid pool to pull from for the next step.

Step 2: Identifying similarities

Using your Account-Based Marketing strategy, identify the similarities your chosen “best customers” have in common. You’re discovering what makes them your best customers and if it’s something you can apply to future customers.

Consider the following:

  • Industry: Are they similar or the same industries? If they’re from different industries, are there any commonalities?
  • Budget: Do they have a large or tight budget? What budget range works best for the product or service you’re selling?
  • Employee size: Do they have roughly the same number of employees? Are you dealing with many small to medium-sized businesses, or does it vary?
  • Location: Can you narrow the location of your best customers? Are they all in North America? Are they global? Are they from big cities or small towns?
  • Founded date: Were these accounts founded in a similar timeframe? Are they mostly start-ups or longtime running companies in need of a boost?
  • Value: Do they provide value to your business? This could be the amount they pay you, if they offer you referrals, or if they have helpful feedback. Do you provide value to them? This could be providing solutions to their pain points, helping with their productivity, or giving them growth opportunities.

If there’s anything else among your best customers that you find similar, take note, because it will help you define your Ideal Customer Profile.

Step 3: Prioritizing attributes

With the data you’ve compiled regarding your best customers’ similarities, it’s time to prioritize. What similarities are most significant to your business? You might end up with a lot of data (which is good) but this step is to taper the information to its most significant points.

Maybe you care less about the founded date because you can still provide value to businesses of all ages. Maybe the industry doesn’t matter to you but your product or service requires a business with a certain amount of employees.

You know your business best. You know what attributes are most important in the accounts you work with to maintain a beneficial relationship on both parts. Pinpoint the most important factors of your best accounts.

Step 4: Building your ICP

Your ICP analysis will have outlined the qualities that make up your best accounts. Based on this information, get creative, and build a fictitious ICP. This can be inspired by your ICP analysis but it doesn’t have to be constrained by it. Who would be the ultimate customer for you to work with?

To help you find out, answer the following questions:

  • What do you want your ICP budget to be? How much money do you want your ICP to earn each year?
  • How big or small do you want your ICP to be?
  • What industry do you want your ICP to come from?
  • Where do you want your ICP to be based?
  • How do you want your ICP to provide you with value?
  • What value do you want to provide an ICP?

The answers to these questions can help you develop an Ideal Customer Profile that looks something like this:

Our Ideal Customer Profile is a B2B company based in the United States that has a team of fifty to 100 employees and yearly revenue of at least forty million dollars. Their customer base is made up of small-to medium-sized businesses that require assistance in lead generation strategies.

Now, that’s your dream ICP. It might look a little better than your current customers and that’s okay. This gives your business the right targets to shoot for. A prospective customer doesn’t have to match the ICP analysis exactly, but you’ll have a clearer vision of what to look for.

Step 5: Disseminating

Once you’ve finished your ICP analysis and you’re ready with an insightful Ideal Customer Profile, disseminate it across your business so you can benefit from your teams working together toward the same goal and improving cohesion.

For more assistance with lead generation techniques, schedule a consultation with bant today!