How to create an ideal customer profile for marketing

Why customer profiles help you target your digital and offline marketing

We usually know who our customers are, and quite some detail about them, but many companies struggle to reach potential new customers with the right message at the right time. Why is that? This article explores what an ICP (ideal customer profile/persona) is, how to create one, how to validate them and why they will make all the difference to your marketing efforts. Read on.

What is an ICP?

Creating a customer profile helps capture some specific details about your prospective customers based on what you already know about your existing customers. An ICP is much more than just a stereotypical list of assumptions. An ICP should cover a lot more about the problems, pains and aspirations of your prospects. Yes, your profile will include some assumptions. Still, you should validate these assumptions. In doing so, you will have a more robust understanding of your customers and use this research to fine-tune your marketing strategy, communication and customer journey.

What should I include in my ideal customer profiles?

Here is a list of what you should include in your ideal customer profile:

  • Give it a name - naming your perfect customer makes it easier to talk about a person, their needs and wants, what is important to them etc.
  • Basic demographic information - this includes things like age, gender, education and so on. These are the stereotype assumptions that help us fine-tune our possible broad media (like radio, newspapers and start our journey with digital marketing). These may also include job titles that can help target your prospects on social media such as LinkedIn.
  • Problems to solve - this can be a small list or a detailed list of the issues your customer has to solve. Creating a list of problems your customers have can help you fine-tune your marketing message. You can then define your customer journey by answering questions a potential customer may need to answer before moving down your sales funnel towards making contact. Creating a list like this lets you provide the information they need during their research phase, during the initial sales cycle and beyond.
  • Steps in the buying process - we are well aware that most customers don’t buy during their first contact with your company. Often customers visit our website, collect information and do research for a few weeks before deciding to make contact. Once they make contact, there are often many initial questions they may have, which you could turn into marketing collateral. Mapping this buyer journey helps ensure you’re covering all the steps needed to educate and inform a prospect along their buying journey.
  • Details of where you can find these customers - typically, this might include various marketing channels and media, but you can also include options for networking and direct sales approaches. Two prevailing ideas don’t get much credit in 2021 - cold calling and direct mail. These two channels can cut through all the clutter in your prospect’s email inboxes, and contrary to popular belief, a cold-calling campaign can yield better results in B2B markets when compared to set-and-forget digital marketing options. Think about how you could reach your target prospects in different ways. The more creative you are in reaching your target audience, the more likely you are to get a meeting and ultimately a sale.
  • Psychometric tools - we have had great success in using DiSC for sales. Profiling tools allow you to adjust your natural communication style to that of your prospect. When you’re in a sales call, if you’re naturally a fast talker and focus on sharing facts, you may benefit from slowing down, asking more questions to build trust with a prospect that doesn’t move as fast as you. Equally, you might be a person who doesn’t need a lot of detail, but your ideal customers love detailed lists, ask a million questions. Being able to tailor your conversation with each of these people will help you build trust faster.

How do I validate my customer profiles or personas?

We have found the best way to validate customer profiles is to interview existing customers. Match your profiles to one or more existing customers and ask questions to validate your assumptions. Most profiles have many beliefs, and the aim of validating these is to increase the accuracy of the profile and fine-tune the content. If you’re not confident enough to do this yourself, you can engage a market research company to call a handful of customers per profile to validate your customer profiles.

If you think you need to make 100s of calls to validate your profiles, you’d be mistaken. Our experience is that the first 1-3 calls will let you tune your profile, and another 1-2 calls will only validate what you learnt in the first few calls. If your profile were specific enough, it wouldn’t take long to confirm your customer profiles. If you want a little more reading on market research, check out the Sprint book by Jake Knapp. Jake worked in Google Ventures and if their market research to invest millions of dollars annually works for them, it’s fine for you too. Don’t let market researchers tell you otherwise.

Validating your customer profiles means you’ll have fewer assumptions about your customers and allow you to learn more about your customers, and tailor your marketing content to better address questions and objections faced by your salespeople. You may also find that a couple of your profiles are identical to each other, which allows you to spend less time creating marketing content.

What next?

Now when you’re talking with prospects, you will match these to your ideal customer profiles. You’ll be able to adjust your language and message to better match their needs. Using your customer profiles can help you say “no” to the wrong kinds of customers as well - something that can be hard to do but allows you to better serve the customer you have and want.

Your ICP can be used when creating marketing materials, and you can match your customer profile with the gaps in your marketing collateral. Working out which channels make sense to communicate with your potential customers means you can tailor your marketing to reach the right people at the right time.

You can create a customer journey map that includes all the questions and concerns raised and match your marketing content along each step of the way. Doing this will help you attract more customers and support your sales efforts.

If you need help creating customer profiles, conducting market research or reaching your ideal customers, our team can help. We’ve worked with companies to break through their glass ceilings of sales to reach new customers and sell deeper into their existing accounts. Book a coffee meeting with us to see how we can help you grow your business.

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