How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile to Generate Leads
Creating an ideal customer profile is one of the most important things you can do for your business. An ideal customer profile will help you focus your marketing & sales efforts by clearly defining who your product or service is targeting. When done right, an ICP will prevent you from chasing unproductive leads, creating the wrong offerings, and using the wrong messaging.
This post will guide you through the process of creating an ideal customer profile, and how you can use it to generate leads for your business. We’ll take a look at the customer characteristics that need to be evaluated, and also show you the different ways you can find your ideal customers. Finally, we’ll end by explaining how you can refine your ideal customer profile over time as your business and customers change.
Let’s get started!
What is an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?
An ideal customer profile is a definition of a customer that would get significant value from your offering, and provide significant value to your business in return. An ideal customer profile is an organisation or company – not a specific person or buyer persona (which you should define after you’ve created your ideal customer profiles).
Ideal customer profiles will change over time as your business grows and evolves. You can have more than one ideal customer profile for your business as each unique market segment you target will need one.
Characteristics of an Ideal Customer
The most basic definition of an ideal customer is one that is going to generate your business revenue. Breaking down how an ideal customer does this reveals several characteristics:
- High lifetime value
- Low customer support needs
- Low cost of acquisition
- Become brand advocates
- Provide referrals
What Makes You the Best Fit for a Customer?
Conversely, to be the best fit for a customer your offering might:
- Help them make more money
- Reduce their business costs
- Address their pain points
- Make them more productive & efficient
Why Do I Need an Ideal Customer Profile?
An ideal customer profile will help you figure out who you should be targeting with your marketing, sales, & product efforts. A well defined profile will prevent you from acquiring poorly satisfied customers who are not a good fit for your offering, or even worse – not being able to acquire customers at all.
Not having an ideal customer profile means you think you appeal to everyone. That thinking leads you to appealing to no one.
Creating an ideal customer profile will unlock several benefits:
Lets you focus on the right lead generation channels
Since an ideal customer profile allows you to know who to target, it will help you identify the best channels to use to acquire customers. You might find that one type of customer uses Twitter more than LinkedIn. Or that another type of customer heavily congregates in specific community forums. Having this knowledge means that you can focus your efforts in these channels.
Helps you create better marketing content
Once you know your ideal customer, you can then begin to uncover the language and industry-specific terminology that they use and incorporate this into your marketing content. Your marketing efforts will resonate more with customers when your messaging uses words and phrases that they understand and use themselves.
Improves your sales process
Terminology and language specific to your ideal customer’s industry can also help you close more deals. A customer profile will also help you understand how your customer’s make decisions, which resources they use to inform their opinions, and the average length of their purchasing cycle (your sales cycle).
Refines your product/service offering
Identifying your ideal customer allows you to make a list of the most important problems they need solved. You can then use this knowledge when formulating service offerings or building product features. Features/offerings can then be segmented to target different customer profiles.
3 Simple Steps to Creating an Ideal Customer Profile
1. Look inward
The first step is to think about the value that your ideal customer will get from using your product/service. Making a list of the the major pain points your offering solves will help you get started.
2. Identify ideal customer characteristics
You can identify ideal customer characteristics using data by:
- Looking at your best customers: what makes these customers derive value from your offering? Your best customers might include customers that have: short sales cycles, long lifetime values, & low maintenance/support requirements.
- Looking at your churned customers: why did these customers churn? Churned customers can provide valuable insights and help you identify characteristics to avoid.
- Looking at your competitor’s customers: a great way to find ideal customer characteristics if you don’t have many existing customers is to look at your competitors customer base. Who do your competitor’s target with their content marketing, advertising, and product marketing efforts? Do they go to specific events or use language aimed at specific types of customers?
3. Define each ICP
Once you have found a few customers that are ideal customers from the previous two steps, it’s time to define each ICP. Use the template below to define each ICP:
- Company Size
- Company Age
- Buying process
For convenience, we’ve created an Excel spreadsheet that you can fill in to create your ideal customer profiles:
How to Refine Your ICP
Over time your product/service will evolve which will mean that your ideal customer will change. Because of this, it’s important to refine your ideal customer profile on a regular basis. The following data points will help you refine your ICP:
Look at sales data
Analysing your sales data can reveal different types of customers that you did not anticipate would purchase your product/service. Breaking down sales data by the characteristics defined in your ideal customer profile template (industry, company size, location, etc.) will allow you to figure out if there are other ideal customers that you have not previously identified.
Analyse website traffic & paid-advertising metrics
Looking at website traffic and advertising metrics can provide insights into where your customers originate from. Some characteristics that can be revealed include:
- Referral source – e.g. did they come from an industry forum post?
Review customer support requests & feedback
Supports requests & feedback provide you with real world information about the problems that customers commonly face when using your product/service. Segmenting requests & feedback by customer profiles can help you to better understand each profile’s common challenges & goals and help you to refine this profile’s ICP.