Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) in B2B digital marketing

The best time to create an ICP or Ideal Customer Profile is when you’re entering a market, creating new solutions, or venturing into unknown territories where customer knowledge is crucial. Unfortunately, a common time to create an ICP is when a consultant or a marketing agency advises you to do so. However, it’s better late than never.

Whether you’re creating an Ideal Customer Profile to support your new ventures or to catch up, the same format works for your needs. In this post, we will discuss why and how to create an ICP.

What is an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) describes the most potential customers you would like to attract. Not everyone who can buy from you or even wants to, but those whom you really want to attract. You can make the profile(s) as narrow as you wish, but remember not to squeeze out the potential market scope altogether. Perfect is the opposite of ready here, as well.

ICP is usually created as a part of tactical marketing planning, creating ideas for the future, but it should be based on current data rather than guesses, future hopes, and vague ideas. Thus, it’s good to refer to it as documentation as reality.

Example use cases for an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) in marketing

Any material that won’t be used is irrelevant and a waste of time to produce. Let’s look at some of the use cases to which you will be applying your ICP:

  • Creating targeted audiences on different digital advertising platforms
  • Guiding content creation and messaging to match what the ICP needs and wants to receive
  • Communicating internally what your customer is like and what you’re going after
  • Communicating to stakeholders, such as agencies, about your customer

The process of creating ICPs is a discovery that will raise new aspects of the potential target audience as a result the process activates questions, answers, and insights from the people involved. Just trust the process.

Gathering data and insight for your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

There are multiple methods for gathering insights and creating the ICP; the more you use, the better. You will use both internal and external assets to collect the data.

  • Internal methods can be qualitative, such as interviewing salespeople, and quantitative, such as examining customer data.
  • External data supplements and enriches your proprietary data, providing a deeper understanding of your ICP. For instance, what you thought was your ICP might not be the best customer but simply the most common in the market.

Work with your sales and marketing teams

Typically, I begin with a 1-2 hour discussion with the sales, marketing, and product teams for a specific business line, brand, or company, depending on the business structure. During this discussion, we cover the aspects that will be discussed later in this post. After that, it’s beneficial to supplement the conversation with more quantitative data.

Building Ideal Customer Profiles in practice

With the ICP documentation, we aim to understand the type of organization that interests us and identify the key individuals we should influence within that organization. This is particularly useful for account-based marketing (ABM) but is essential for all B2B marketing.

Discuss and document data from the following areas. Remember, the goal is not to extract everything but to highlight the most important aspects to understand our target organization clearly. For instance, if the personnel size is irrelevant, don’t include it in your ICP.

Demographic Information of the Companies

  • Geographical location and features
  • Size of the company by personnel, locations, markets, revenue, etc.
  • Field of business or industry
  • Other demographic aspects of the company

Technographic information that affects our products and services

  • Software or hardware that enables or disables our chances of providing a solution
  • Technologies that enable or limit the ways we can reach target companies
  • Other technographic aspects that seem relevant

Behavioral information that informs us how the company and its culture operate in those aspects that affect us

  • Innovative vs. traditional
  • Decision-making process
  • Attitudes towards what we are offering
  • Other relevant behaviors

Target individuals within the company who directly or indirectly affect our success

  • Titles, job functions, seniority
  • Roles in the decision-making process
  • Jobs-to-be-done
  • Hard and soft motivational factors
  • Other aspects that define the target individuals in the company

Example organizations and people to help you compare and find more data from digital platforms such as LinkedIn

  • Existing clients: company names, names of target personas, job titles, etc.
  • Potential clients: company names, names of target personas, job titles, etc.

Compile your own Ideal Customer Persona (ICP)

After gathering the information, you should clarify it and format it in a way that will be useful in the future. For example, consider using this type of slide deck (fill the form below to have it sent to your email).

If you need help creating your ICP from a partner who has spent well over a decade dealing with these matters, drop us a message!

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