What Is an Ideal Customer Profile and How Do I Create One?

Shelby Catalano
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a B2B business owner, you know your ideal customers – CEOs or account leaders depending on the product or service you offer. Knowing that as granularly as you do, you may still not know your ideal customer profile (ICP). In account-based marketing (ABM), effectively leveraging an ICP means you can accelerate growth in your business and work alongside high-profile organizations aligned to your mission and beliefs. 

Learn more about an ICP’s value and how you can create your very own to go alongside your ABM strategy below:

What Is an Ideal Customer Profile?

An ICP is a target company who would benefit most from working with you, and you’d gain the most value from working with them. Think of it as a dream client – able to not only afford services, but to be upsold, and who would be able to gain immense value and benefit to their business model with your product and/or services. 

Your list of Ideal Customer Profiles that you create should not consist of a large pool of people; in fact, nicheing these ideal companies you’ll target down as much as possible helps to avoid incompatible clients and start conversations with the people who resonate with what you’re offering. 

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How does an ICP Differ from Buyer Personas?

Now you may be thinking “Shelby, these sound an awful lot like buyer personas,” and you’d be right. While there is some crossover, they are two different pieces of the puzzle.

The best way to break down the difference between an ICP and a Buyer Persona is to look at the type of information gathered. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of the types of people you do business with. Your buyer personas will be shaped by the following information:

  • Job title
  • Role
  • Function
  • Seniority level
  • Income
  • etc.

An ICP, on the other hand, describes the type of company that you would like to do business with. Think about the companies that get the most value from your product or service and have the highest retention rates. Your ICP will be shaped by the following data points: 

  • Industry type
  • Company size
  • Location
  • Revenue
  • Budget
  • Technology
  • Urgent problems

ideal customer profile and buyer persona criteria

Why is Creating an Ideal Customer Profile Important to my ABM Strategy?

An ABM strategy involves targeting a select group of accounts that you have deemed as potential ideal customers. Instead of wasting time marketing to unqualified leads, you curate your outreach for companies where you’d get the best outcomes and value. This allows you to get sales and marketing in alignment with each other early on.

Often used in B2B businesses, ABM strategies center around personalization. The goal of ABM isn’t to increase lead volume; it’s to find those highly-coveted prospects that hold the most value to your business. This is where your ICP comes into play. 

The ICP serves as the foundation for your ABM strategy. It allows your company to determine what defines a high-value account and create an ABM framework around that profile. By tailoring all communications, content, and campaigns around that specific account, businesses can receive a higher ROI from their marketing.

Creating an ICP helps you be selective and go further into an ABM strategy when it’s needed. Think of your ICP as the needle in the haystack and your ABM strategy as the magnet you use to attract it.

How do I create my company’s Ideal Customer Profile?

Many entrepreneurs are able to identify their ICP initially through early adopters of their products – and you can, too! When you map your ICP out, it is important to make sure to keep your mission as a focus, while also taking into account how to deliver on the desires of these ideal clients. 

The clearest way to get started crafting an ICP is to first, identify who your best customers currently are. What are their businesses like? What departments do you interact with most? What are some anecdotal success stories you’ve gathered on how your product or service has best benefited your existing client base? Start there. What do you like best about their verticals, technologies, and annual budgets? Assemble your top three customers based on this research and find where the commonalities lie between them.

It could look like this example:

Our ideal customer profile: A B2B law firm in the US with a team of at least 50 people and an annual budget of at least $1 million. Their customers are high-profile construction companies with longer cycles for settlements where many of the litigation cases are similar in nature and automated.

Align Sales and Marketing With an ICP

Your ICP will help to align your sales and marketing teams on the core messaging to use when discussing your product or service. It may take some time to develop, but the work you put in will pay off in the long term. 

Now that you know what and ICP is and you can create your own, you are off to a great start! With some sleuthing into your company data and finding what companies you work well with, you’re well on your way to nicheing into an effective audience that will derive considerable value from your company.

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