Using ICPs for marketing to generate more quality leads is a tried and tested technique applied by successful companies across the globe. It’s a wonder why some sales professionals are not implementing it to improve their marketing campaigns. Having an ICP in place enables you to create a content strategy that satisfies your target audience.
As a service provider, you must know who your clients are. In a tight, competitive business environment, most companies are compelled to create advertising content that accommodates all in the hope of attracting everyone. But does it work? No. Studies have shown that creating targeted content is more effective than turning out general information. Yet some companies have tried targeted campaigns with no success. So what did they do wrong? The most important thing to do before starting any targeted marketing is to create the correct ideal customer profile.
This article will explore the subject of ideal customer profiles, looking specifically at how the business benefits from creating them. We will also teach you how to create an ICP to start generating more leads.
What is an ideal customer profile (ICP)?
An ICP is a set of attributes that best describes your existing customers. These are characteristics that your clients have in common. There are two subgroups of attributes: standard and nonstandard. The standard ones include revenue, locations, team size, and subindustries, whereas nonstandard attributes are specific to your company and are unique to your area of expertise.
Ideal customer profile definition
An ideal customer profile is a detailed description of a fictional organization that has characteristics and properties that represent your real-life ideal clients. It is a company that your business plans to acquire as a customer. The ICP is created using facts and data points collected from thorough research.
Mistakes to avoid when defining your ICP
Combining different market segmentations into one ICP
Customers who buy your products have different needs and reasons for getting your goods or services. As such, you need to group your current clients into subgroups that best define the ideal customer profile from each category. These groups will help you to create a specific ICP for each market segmentation. As such, avoid creating a single ICP to identify your customers, especially when you cater to the needs of different market segments.
Trying to accommodate everyone in the creation of an ICP
When creating an ICP, there is a natural tendency to make it general to accommodate more people. But it does not lead to the great results one might anticipate. Instead, only use your key clients to define your ICP. This way you can create a marketing content strategy that targets your ideal new customers with ease. Those looking for particular solutions will come to you as well because you will be specific regarding the services that you provide. One might ask: Who are my best customers? Those who buy products of higher value than others and those who purchase your products or services regularly.
Why is an ideal customer profile important for B2B lead generation?
To have a successful lead generation campaign, you have to know who your key customers are. Having an ideal customer profile enables you to identify your prospects and increases the likelihood of generating more leads. Before starting any lead generation campaign, it’s important to first create ideal customer personas that will guide your actions toward securing quality leads, which are essential for business growth.
Having an ICP enables your marketing strategy to be more specific. You can identify and target more of your ideal customers. Having a more-focused and better-targeted marketing campaign lets you secure leads without using much in the way of precious resources and time. Getting high-quality leads is the main objective of any organization as these are most easily converted into buying customers.
Having a specific client profile helps you create and deliver high-value services to your existing customers because you know exactly what they want. Satisfied clients become loyal customers who can contribute to the marketing efforts of the business through referrals, thus generating more leads. Having an ICP permits you to target companies that suit the ICP, and you can track their buying processes to perfect your timing and present your products or services. It will improve the B2B lead generation process and make your marketing campaign more productive.
Below are some of the key areas in which an ICP is essential for the B2B lead generation processes of your company.
An ICP guides the marketing and sales team to come up with content and strategies that are more specific to the particular group of customers than general content. By making your services more specific, you increase your chances of appealing to and attracting high-quality leads. It is beneficial to the organization as it saves time that can be redirected toward creating and running campaigns. As such, the company generates leads with minimum resources.
As a business, you have to create marketing content that makes your customers feel like it was meant for them. And to create it, you need to have an ICP that will lead you to achieve a high level of personalization. This applies to creating content and other marketing materials, such as website landing pages and the overall picture of the organization. Every aspect of your organization must be crafted in such a way as to address the needs and pain points of your customers. Your ultimate solution must be for them to realize their goals.
Identification of lead generation channels
When it comes to generating leads through online content marketing, the platform where you post content also matters. Having an ICP enables you to identify the communication tools and social media platforms that your ideal customers are likely to use. This way you improve your marketing campaign by focusing on appropriate content distribution channels.
Selection of quality leads
The process of trying to convert each and every lead you acquire is resource-intensive and, more often, ineffective. The main reason is that you might put on hold high-quality leads while attending to low-quality prospects who won’t bring any value to your organization.
Having an ICP enables you to categorize your leads so that appropriate actions are taken. Leads who are ready to purchase are transferred to the sales team. Those who are not ready yet are moved to the sales process for nurturing. And leads of no significant value are discarded to ensure that the time and resources of the organization are not wasted on poor-quality leads.
Having an ICP also enables you to assess your marketing campaigns through the quality of leads that you obtain. For example, when you start getting more customers who do not fit your ICP, you can change your marketing strategy to ensure that you attract more quality leads.
How can an ideal customer profile be used in B2B lead generation?
An ICP makes it easier for a B2B company to narrow down its search to include only prospects that fit the ICP description. With an ICP, it becomes easier to create content that resonates with your ideal customers.
Thus, marketing campaigns become more successful because they address the needs of the type of leads you want to acquire.
Additionally, an ICP provides you with better keywords for SEO optimization. Depending on the buying-process stage the prospects are in, you can create content containing keywords that they are likely to search.
Below are some of the ICP elements that can be used to improve the effectiveness of the B2B lead generation.
Revenue and team size of prospects
Knowing these factors is essential to creating a more-targeted campaign as this information enables you to filter out those who don’t fit in the ICP. With this information, you can effectively search for companies that suit your specific ICP and generate leads more quickly.
Approximate value of the leads
Not all your current customers and prospects are equal. Realistically, some bring in more value compared to others. That is why you need to categorize your leads according to their expected values to the company. This information will assist you in creating a better ICP.
After defining your target market, you need to further narrow it down into subindustries that have more quality leads, therefore allowing the company to generate more revenue and more income. Targeting subindustries makes the process of coming up with better prospects much more productive, and you can strategize accordingly. For example, if your market includes software development companies, you might choose to focus on those who create medical software only. Specializing in a particular subindustry ensures that you deliver unparalleled value compared to those who only generalize.
For an international organization with customers from all over the world, it’s essential to be familiar with your customers’ regions. Understanding the locations of your clients or prospects puts you in a better position to craft effective marketing content. A thorough understanding of your clients helps you achieve the following:
- Taking note of different time zones — By factoring this element into your marketing strategy, you can be sure to send marketing content at times when you know the decision-makers are in office. You can easily adjust the marketing activities, such as outreach emails or social media content, to suit that of the customer’s business hours.
- Public holidays — Tracking these helps you avoid sending emails during your customers’ public holidays. For example, in the U.S., every fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving, so trying to reach leads based in the U.S. on this day would be a mistake. Knowing such cultural factors allows you to schedule your marketing accordingly.
- Customs — Knowing the customs of a region puts you in a better position to present your products and services in a way that will not be offensive in that particular area. For example, when Colgate launched their toothpaste in France, they named it Cue. In France, Cue was, unfortunately, the name of a porn magazine. From the above example, knowing your customers’ locations is essential to avoid presenting unintentionally offensive content.
How to create an ideal customer profile
Creating an ideal customer profile is an easy process that can be accomplished by following the simple steps listed below.
Start with your existing customers
Your existing customers help you understand your current audience. The customers already possess the attributes of your ideal customer. Arrange the customers in order of how much value they bring to the company. If you have many customers, choose the top 10 and focus on those. After that, you can start to examine these companies’ shared factors to draft your ICP.
For new businesses
If you are starting a company and do not have customers yet, it’s still possible to come up with an ICP. In this case, you have to research potential clients and decide which ones are suitable for your services and products. You can also look at the clients of your competitors to identify the characteristics of people who might want to use your services. When you start to gain customers of your own, you can then revise your ICP to suit the customers that you have.
When you are doing the research, it’s essential to find different attributes of your possible clients so that you can successfully draft your ICP. Attributes you need to look at include:
When choosing the industry of your clients, you need to be specific to the subindustries of that sector to understand your clients better. This also helps you find quality leads that are more likely to become buying customers.
The location of your ideal clients also provides essential information as to how to present your content effectively. For an online organization, you place yourself in a better position by adjusting aspects of your writing, such as tone and delivery, to appeal to the online community.
Employee count is one of the customer characteristics you should look at when drafting your ICP. For example, if you specialize in software development, you might look for organizations with few employees and provide software solutions to improve productivity. Alternatively, you might look for large organizations with many employees and offer software solutions to automate their processes, thus reducing the required manpower.
Knowing the technographic data of your clients is important, especially if you plan to provide your services to different locations across the globe. This information helps you determine if some of your products require modifications to suit the technical environments of those places. Without this knowledge, you might end up pitching your products to customers incapable of using them due to technological constraints in their areas. For software development agencies, you need to find out whether your product can integrate with other software that your customers use. It helps you present your product as essential and valuable to the operations of your customers.
Questions for creating an ICP
When it comes to drafting the ICP, it’s important to have guiding questions. The answers to these questions then help you craft the ICP. The questions are useful when creating the ICP for the first time or updating an existing one.
Below are some of the best questions to ask yourself during the creation of the ICP.
- Which industry is the organization in?
- How big is the customer organization? Information you can use to determine this factor includes their number of employees, customers, and annual revenue.
- In which department do the relevant decision-makers work?
- How old is the organization?
- Where are they located?
Pain points and goals
- What are their main pain points, and how can your product help to solve them?
- What is the best thing that your company has that is unique to you and makes you stand out among the competition?
- What factors might prevent customers from choosing your product?
- What is their decision-making process?
- What are three features of your product that make it unique compared to similar solutions on the market?
- Which websites do they frequently visit and why?
- Which stage of the sales funnel are they in?
- Which social media platforms do they use?
- What are the values of the organization?
- How have changes in the economy affected their working processes?
- What factors influence their decision-making processes?
- Are there any restructuring changes that have occurred, and on which positions are the changes?
- Which associations and trade groups are they affiliated with?
- How much technology does the company use?
- What factors do they consider before purchasing a product?
For already-established businesses, interviewing your existing clients for the above information is more beneficial than researching online. Interviews help you obtain qualitative and quantitative info you might not find published on the internet. Also, you can conduct a survey in which your customers fill in and submit their answers to you.
Overall, a one-on-one conversation is the best way to obtain the information that you need. It is advisable to offer something in return when conducting the interviews or presenting decision-makers with a questionnaire. It motivates them to be more open to answering your questions.
After you have collected the data, the next step is to describe the ideal customer profile. The final summary must contain the attributes of the fictional company. To avoid any ambiguity, the description must be short and precise. The final ICP can be used to identify prospects satisfying the framework. You can also use it to rank the leads from the low to high value depending on the attributes they satisfy.
Creating an ICP
Depending on the products and services you provide and the market you plan to target, there are numerous ways to create your ICP template. Below are some factors you might include when writing your ICP:
- Challenges and pain points
- Objectives and goals
- Decision-making processes
- Use of technology
- Communication and social media platforms
After creating the ideal customer profiles in the format of your choosing, don’t forget to write a short, precise description that summarizes the whole profile.
Additionally, you can improve your ICP by incorporating buyer personas. Buyer personas include detailed information about the decision-makers in different organizations. You might include background, interests, age, and demographics, among other factors. These enable you to tailor your approach to the customer persona of each decision-maker.
When it comes to improving your marketing and sales process, creating an ideal customer persona ensures that your lead generation campaigns are focused. With more-targeted campaigns, you can find high-quality leads without wasting resources and time. As such, you optimize your overall marketing and sales campaigns, creating more value for your business.
Creating an ideal customer profile is the crucial first step for a B2B company to start any sales or marketing campaign to generate high-quality leads.