Why You Need an Ideal Customer Profile for a Successful Demand Generation Strategy

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Companies should stop trying to be everything to everyone and focus on attracting their ideal customer

In an effort to drive fast growth, we often see companies make a common marketing mistake. They try to be everything to everyone, instead of focusing on their ideal customer. On the surface, we understand the appeal of this approach. If we tell everyone in our addressable market why our products are great, then we’re maximizing our reach – and our results – right?

Wrong. Because when you try to be relevant to everyone, you end up diluting the unique value you provide. And you could end up not resonating as well with those buyers who are the best fit for your organization. This is a classic case of mistaking your total addressable market (TAM) for your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Companies aren’t doing themselves any favors when they try to be everything to everyone. In fact, the opposite is actually true. To build a successful demand generation strategy, first you need to identify the audience that’s the best fit for your company. The way to do this is to identify and build out an ideal customer profile.


What is an ideal customer profile?

An ideal customer profile is a description of your best fit customer. It’s the type of company who is the most likely to buy your products or services and maximize the value of working with your organization. Basically, this is a representation of your ideal client. You know, the one with all the right characteristics that make them a perfect match for your company.

It’s important to note the difference between an ideal customer profile and a buyer persona. While they both describe your prospective buyers, these two tools are used for very different purposes.

  • Ideal customer profiles describe a type of company. They’re typically used at the very beginning of the marketing and sales process to help identify and home in on your best-fit target audience of prospects – looking at things such as business triggers, product use cases and key organizational characteristics.
  • Buyer personas describe an individual buyer within a company. They look at how buyers think about their business problem and their buying process. Buyer personas are used to understand individual buyer roles.

An ideal customer profile is a foundational resource that helps your marketing and sales teams focus on the best audience. And if you’re using account-based marketing (ABM), an ideal customer profile can also be instrumental in identifying your target accounts.


What goes into an ideal customer profile?

An ideal customer profile typically has three key components:

  • Firmographics – these are details about the ideal company you want to target, including size, revenue, industry, location and customer base.
  • Technographics – these focus on systems and integration requirements that are key to making your product work. Often, these also include details about complementary technologies that can make your product work even better.
  • Buying Triggers – these traits are often time-bound or situational and they indicate a readiness to convert. Some examples of buying triggers are a new round of funding, a merger or acquisition, a new C-level hire, restructuring or expansion.


How do you create an ideal customer profile?

Start by taking a close look at your past and present clients to really determine who makes the best customer for you. Ask internal stakeholders such as your sales team, account managers and customer service team for their input in uncovering both quantitative and qualitative data.


Analyze the following quantitative data on each client:

  • Length of sales cycle
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Customer satisfaction level
  • Length of relationship
  • Number of renewals
  • Number of upsells and expansions
  • Number of referrals
  • Annual deal size
  • Level of customer support needs
  • Profitability
  • Lifetime revenue value (LTV)

Next, ask your customer support staff and sales teams to answer as many of the following questions as they can to gather qualitative data:

  • Who are your best customers to work with, why?
  • Who are the most difficult customers to support, why?
  • Who do you think loves our company, why?
  • Who do you think only tolerates our company, why?
  • Who’s waiting for the contract to end, why?
  • Who are our biggest advocates, why?
  • Who places the highest value on our product? Why?

Once you’ve collected this data internally, you should be able to identify who your best clients actually are. The insights might surprise you because it isn’t always going to be who you would have expected. For example, it is not always the biggest client.

Once you’ve identified your best clients, we recommend rounding out the insights by talking directly to key contacts within those client organizations to get an understanding of their buying triggers, where they seek out information to research solutions, how they use your solution and why they are a fan. They will often share valuable insights that simply can’t be captured through internal research.  These insights can be captured through surveys and interviews.


Here are some customer questions to ask to add more depth to your ideal customer profile:

  • What were the reasons that you chose to purchase a solution like ours?
  • What happened in your organization to trigger the search for our product?
  • What industry resources do you use to help you research and make decisions on products like ours?
  • How did you learn about our company?
  • What was important to you during the evaluation process?
  • Who was involved in the purchase decision?
  • What industry publications and tools do you read / watch / listen to?
  • What industry conferences and events do you attend?
  • How is your team structured?
  • What roles are there?
  • What challenges are we best at helping you solve?
  • What do you value about our relationship?
  • Why would you recommend our product or solution to a colleague?
  • What do you think other competitive solutions lack – that we have?

Once you’ve collected the qualitative and quantitative data, you should be able to define a clear profile of the buying triggers and key characteristics for organizations that are your ideal customer to go after.


How to use your ideal customer profile

Creating an ideal customer profile is instrumental to your marketing efforts because it will help focus your content marketing strategy and demand generation plan, so you attract and influence the best-fit prospects. Here are a few ways you’ll want to use your ideal customer profile:

  • Drive content creation. When you know your audience, their pain points and their buying triggers, content creation becomes infinitely easier. You’re not guessing. You’re knowing and addressing what really matters to your buyers.
  • Distribute content in the right channels. Now that you know where your prospects go for information, be there. This might be on social channels, peer review sites, podcasts, at conferences or other outlets. Remember to match the tone of your content to the channel. Going into a LinkedIn community with a sales pitch won’t work!
  • Develop a unique point of view. How does your organization view the market and challenges differently than others? What stand can you take that your buyers really care about? You’ll want to develop a unique point of view that resonates with companies who fit within your ideal customer profile. When you have a unique and impactful point of view, your brand can more easily cut through the noise in a crowded marketplace so that prospects know and remember you when it’s time to buy.
  • Build your ABM list. Account-based marketing is a strategy where sales and marketing collaborate on personalized campaigns to a targeted set of high-value accounts. Those high-value accounts? You’ll find them by applying your ideal customer profile to identify best fit organizations.

The takeaway

An ideal customer profile identifies the key characteristics, buying triggers and research methods for targeting prospects so you can tailor your demand generation efforts and drive business growth. Think of it as a roadmap to help you identify your target accounts. Best of all, it’s a direction you can trust because it’s rooted in your own customer data and insights.

Here at GrowthMode Marketing, we’re experts at helping our clients drive growth with high-impact demand generation strategies and programs. And we can help you identify who your best-fit prospects are by building an ideal customer profile. Contact us today to learn more.

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