How the Use the Ideal Customer Profile to Grow Revenues
- The ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of the customer organization that will most benefit from your product or service. These high fit customers realize the highest campaign conversion rates, fastest sales cycles, highest close rates, longest customer retention and highest Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). They are your best advocates and deliver the most referrals. They are your most valuable customers.
- The goal of defining the ICP is to acquire more ideal customers. Only by accurately identifying your best accounts, can you develop precise strategies and campaigns that find, engage and maximize the conversions of these most profitable customers.
- Research shows that marketing campaigns targeted to the ICP incur 2X higher lead conversions, 38 percent faster sales cycles and 19 percent higher sales win rates.
How to Surge Marketing Results with an Ideal Customer Profile
You can't please everyone. Nor should you try.
Part of precision marketing is allocating finite budgets and limited resources to get the best ROI.
Defining your ICP is part of becoming a data-driven, customer-focused business. It's also essential in order to direct your time and money to where they will earn the highest return.
The ICP defines the perfect customer for your company's solutions. These are the customers who are the best fit for your products or services. The customers that get the most value and tell others about their experiences. The customers that don't churn and have the highest Customer Lifetime Value. The customers you want more of.
Ideal Customer Profile Models and Templates
There are no fixed criteria for an ICP, but common criteria include firmographics such as industry, company size and geography. Some industries, such as the technology sector, will include things like technographics (what technologies ideal customers use). Other factors may include environmental or behavioral characteristics, such as how a customer uses your product.
The ICP uses data to measure and segment customers by fit. Data can cluster or group customer characteristics, attributes or behaviors to show the highest fit customers. The data is then rolled into metrics to show their contribution to the company, as measured in things like purchase volume, profitability, customer lifetime value and tenure.
The ICP forces focus. It enables marketers to better direct campaigns, messaging, offers and investments to the best fit customers that incur the highest conversions and deliver the most profits. The ICP is the starting point when considering how to get more customers.
Some B2B ICPs will be based largely or entirely on firmographics. Other ICPs will include demographics such as buyer roles, their individual pain points, role-based objectives, and personal and professional wins. The below ICP template is an example.
How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile
Creating an ICP does not need to be complex. But it does need to be data driven and objectively measured.
A common mistake is creating an ICP based on aspirational goals. That's wishful thinking and will not deliver the benefits.
Instead, a better method is to find the customers that get the most value from your products or services and see what they have in common.
Ideally, you will engage customers so they can tell you how they attribute value and how much value they get. It's critical to find the customers realizing the most value and ensure that the value is significantly greater than the cost.
An alternate approach to find the best customers is to use a combination of data such as product utilization (via telemetry), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores, customer lifetime value, customer retention and customer advocacy (i.e., number of referrals or online testimonials).
From there you can identify the shared traits, characteristics and attributes. You are looking for patterns. You may find a disproportional number of customers share an industry, geography or company size. A simple cohort analysis may reveal a common buyer type, role or title.
Categorizing attributes into groups such as quantitative, qualitative and behavioral makes them easier to manage and integrate with other customer intelligence assets such as customer segments or the 360-degree customer view in your CRM system.
Not all attributes are equal, so you need to prioritize. Too many attributes cloud value and defeat the purpose of the exercise. Focusing on the top few will deliver the most value. You generally want the top three to five attributes in each category.
At the end of this exercise you will have a clear and measurable ICP and you will be able to calculate an ICP fit score for all customers.
The Benefits and Payback
Your ICP will overhaul your marketing operations.
It will create new opportunities for your marketing strategy, open new revenue streams and deliver a more confident Go-to-Market Plan.
It will drive more personalized communications, more relevant offers, more meaningful engagement and generate higher quality sales leads.
It will steer the product roadmap to create more customer-centric products that achieve more enthusiastic market acceptance. It will define what new capabilities are included in your product upgrades and what future products will look like.
It will increase campaign conversions, lead to opportunity conversions and sales win rates.
It will be used in calculating lead scores and sale opportunity scores, which will in turn improve salesperson productivity.
It will decrease cost per lead, sales cycle duration, cost per customer acquisition and customer churn.
It will define your customer data model. So instead of a generic model that incurs recurring time and money to capture and maintain a high volume of low value data, you can manage a leaner model with less but more powerful data to be captured, appended, enriched and maintained with less maintenance and labor.
How ICP Fits into the Bigger Picture
No company's strategy or performance is better than their customer intelligence, and the ICP is a core component of a broader customer intelligence framework.
The above schema shows how customer intelligence can be centrally managed and categorized in the CRM system. This makes the data easily available for filtering and extraction for marketing and sales purposes, or as part of a marketing engine.
The Point is This
If there is a resistance to ICP it's usually FOMO (fear of missing out). This is the fear of missing revenue from a broader market. But the reality is when try to be everything to everyone, you end up being uniquely valuable to no one. That's when you really miss out.
Defining the ICP allows marketers to pursue the customers most likely to buy and deliver sustained profits to the company.
It allows marketers to home in on select customers and shift from spray and pray or other random acts to precision marketing.