Struggling businesses tend to focus too much on sales and too little on target buyers. But how do you identify an ideal customer to market your product or services to?
The first step is to create an ideal customer profile or buyer persona. The B2B customer profile tells the small and midsize business (SMB) owner what type of prospect represents the best match for their company. And the buyer persona is a detailed hypothetical example of the target person working in that concern. The idea is to ZOOM IN on those who want what you offer… and ZOOM OUT on those who don’t.
This article explains the process of putting together your ideal customer profile or ICP. It’s a critical exercise with potentially huge ROI . You can then refocus your energies and message to serve the needs of specific buyers.
Identifying Your Ideal Customer
Successful B2B companies attract target buyers from the way they present their business. They talk less about what they do and more about the customer’s needs and expectations. They can do this because they create detailed profiles and buyer personas to pinpoint their prospective client’s needs, wants, fears, and desires. And that makes it much easier to tailor content directly to the target group.
Ideal Customer Profile Vs. Buyer Persona
Some business writers use the ICP and buyer persona interchangeably, but there are differences when it comes to B2B marketing. Creating the ideal customer profile tells your marketing team WHO or what type of company is the best to target. And the buyer persona describes a hypothetical decision-maker or primary contact for that company.
Here’s how the B2B ICP profile and buyer persona look at a basic level.
Who Is YOUR Ideal Customer?
An ideal customer wants you as much as you want them, so how do you meet?
Knowing your ICP is critical if you’re struggling to find new ways to grow . It’s time to do some lead generation and build your customer base. It may surprise you how many SMB can’t pinpoint their ICP—can you? Yet this is the most important tool for your company’s growth, but remember this…
EVERYONE is not your customer!
Fishing for Facts
Let’s pause to highlight the importance of the ICP using fishing to illustrate.
As a kid, I fished along the riverbanks in my hometown. I rarely got a bite, but an older angler next to me would reel in fish after fish. When he left, I’d move over to what I thought was a lucky spot, but still no luck. Today, I know what the problem was.
The Ideal Fish Profile
The other guy had done his homework. He knew what fish he wanted to catch, what depth they swam at, the best time of day to catch them, their favorite food, and so on. In other words, he had built the ideal fish profile so he could zoom in and target his prey. But I had no clue. I just threw my line out and hoped a fish, any fish, would come to me.
Your business WILL grow if you define and target customers like a skilled angler targets fish. Now let’s break down the process using ICP segmentation.
Research Existing Customers
Your existing customer base is an excellent starting point to create a model or basic profile. The idea is to find out what traits your best customers have in common. You may not have all the data right now, but use what you have to look for patterns.
Tip: Loyalty programs are an excellent method for collecting data you can use later to define specific segments for your target market.
Just because a company seems ideal, that doesn’t mean it is. And the way to find out if it’s worth targeting is to look at the firmographics. These are the typical characteristics of businesses in your customers’ industries.
Your firmographics questions should look something like this:
- What industry is the business in(be specific)
- What’s the business model, B2B or B2C?
- What vertical does the business specialize in?
- How old and established is the business?
- How many people work there?
- What’s their current revenue band?
- How about the growth percentage?
Add anything else to the firmographic questions that pertain to your company.
“Knowledge has no power until it’s applied.”Dale Carnegie
Think of demographics as the areas where most potential customers hang out. These are the people within the business who will interact with you or your team. What commonalities do they share in location, age, gender, etc.? This information helps build a much clearer image of your ICP and potential buyer personas.
#3 Technocratic Tools
Make a note of the technology stacks (hardware/software) your existing customers have. Now check the technology stacks the prospective ones use. The more technically compatible you are with the potential business, the better. One tool that can help is BuiltWith that lets you analyze a company’s specific web technologies.
Internal Technology Adoption
Another option is to use internal technology adoption. These tools work by analyzing job vacancies posted by companies. They look at the technologies the recruiter asks potential candidates to have experience in. This technology can help your identify what common knowledges and skill proficiencies they are looking to boost. Then you can match the appropriate product or service offering to their need.
#4 Psychographic Drivers
Psychographics is the study of customers based on their AIOs or activities, interests, and opinions . It’s usually wise to avoid companies and buyers who have conflicting AIOs with yours. But how can you possibly determine this? The best way is to look at the psychographic traits of existing customers you love working with.
Analyzing data lets you and your team create detailed psychographic profiles. You can then use that to finetune your ICP around lifestyles, interests, emotional triggers, etc. that are common for for similar businesses and prospective clients.
#5 Buying Process Roles & Key Stakeholders
Sales have gotten incredibly complex in modern times, often involving large groups of people. Your ICP includes specific roles so that you know who to target directly. There are many lost opportunities caused by salespeople reaching out to the wrong person in the organization they’re targeting.
Combining Your ICP and Buyer Personas
Once you understand your ICP (the business), you can work on the buyer persona (the people). After all, it’s the human who does the deal, not the company. You’ll already have some ideal customers, so the job now is to find out who they are.
Avoid Majoring in Minor Details
Ideally, you want buyer personas based on real people, not stereotypes, so avoid adding irrelevant data. Not only is it useless, but it makes the whole process unnecessarily long. Details like favorite meals, hair colors, pets, etc., are of no use—unless it’s relevant to your business.
Fact: You learn way more from unhappy buyers than satisfied ones .
This invaluable data will allow you to target your patrons more specifically. The most powerful personas are an accumulation of two things. One is targeted market research; the other is the insights you get from your customer base. Depending on your particular business model, you may need to create one or several personas.
We can divide the B2B buyer personas into three categories.
#1 Buyer Personas for Marketing
Marketing uses the buyer persona’s attributes such as age, sex, gender, etc. And the psychographic information tells them what makes the person tick. Marketers can target these audiences with content that’s interesting, highly relevant, and can help them do their job better. The persona includes background data, goals, challenges, and what you can do to help.
#2 Buyer Personas for Sales
The more “relevant” detail your buyer persona has, the easier it is to sell to them. Live interviews are a better way of collecting data than sending out questionnaires. An effective buyer persona for sales builds profiles based on:
- Roles within the business
- Company information
- Needs and expectations
- Demographic data
- Decision-making criteria
- Communication channels
However, the buyer persona doesn’t end at sales, not if you expect repeat business.
#3 Buyer Persona for Customer Service
The best business is repeat business. Not only for profits but also for gathering more data to better understand your best clients. Thus, include your customer service team in the continual buyer persona development. This benefits sales and marketing and helps customer service tailor their support.
Closing Comments on Ideal Customer Profiles
There can be no customers until they know who you are, where you are, and what you offer. With your new ICP, marketing and sales become easier and more profitable. But for your ICP to work, everyone in-house needs to know about it.
The best ICPs will see a definite boost to your ROI. There will be improvements in conversion rates, increased referrals, and reduced expenses. And lastly, you will develop better working relationships with your new target audience. For help creating and refining your ideal customer profile, buyer persona, and comprehensive marketing strategy Contact Bold Entity.