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Determining your ideal customer profile is one of the first steps in segmentation.
How can you sell well if you don’t know who to sell to? The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is an essential element of your strategy. And you’ll soon realize that defining your customer profile is no easy task!
What is the ideal customer profile? What are the issues surrounding the notion of ICP? And above all, how do you define your ICP?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the subject, reminding you what an ideal customer profile is and why it’s important to define it. Then, I’ll give you the step-by-step method we recommend at La Growth Machine for building your ICP.
Let’s get started! 🚀
What is the ideal customer profile?
Let’s start with a concise, clear, and up-to-date definition of the ICP: in sales, the ideal customer profile is a semi-fictional representation of your perfect customer.
Please understand that it’s not a real person, but a synthesis of the characteristics, needs, preferences, and behaviors of your most valuable market segment. Because yes, the definition of the ICP does fall within the field of segmentation!
Another important notion is that, depending on the typology of your business, you can identify several ideal customer profiles. We’ll come back to this a little later in the article.
If you work as a B2B sales or marketer, you already know how important it is to be precise about the terms you use.
The notion of ICP is often confused – wrongly – with the notion of personae. But there’s a difference between the two.
What’s the difference between persona and ICP?
These two are actually complementary.
In both sales and marketing, the persona represents a specific market segment or target group.
The ideal customer profile, on the other hand, embodies a typical character within that market segment.
Let me give you an example to help you see things more clearly:
At La Growth Machine, we started with the following ICPs:
- Recruiting Agencies & Marketing or Growth Agencies
- Startups and Scale-ups
- Medium and Large companies
For each of them, we identified their challenges, objectives, development methods, the decision-maker, etc.
Below you’ll find a summary of the personas we target in priority directly in each ICP:
If the notion of persona doesn’t seem clear to you after all that, don’t hesitate to consult our article: How to build your persona?
Why is the ICP so important for segmentation?
Proper segmentation is key to achieving great conversion rates. It is the first step in prospecting. And without determining your persona and ICP, you wouldn’t have a good segmentation.
In other words, if you don’t spend enough time on this step, you risk jeopardizing the rest of your work!
It’s a bit like building a house on a shaky foundation: inevitably, it’s going to fall down. And the same applies to your prospecting strategy.
The first benefit of building your ideal customer profile is saving time.
Even though this step may seem time-consuming- and, trust me, it is- accurately determining your ICP will save you a lot of time later on. You’ll be able to make the right decisions regarding your copywriting, the platforms where you’ll be able to reach your target, and all the elements that play into your approach! It makes the difference.
Gaining in performance
The second benefit of building your ICP is the gain in performance.
Better targeting enables you to address the right people, those who will be most sensitive and most inclined to respond positively to what you have to sell.
The ideal customer profile helps you to avoid wasting time on prospects who don’t fit your needs. On the contrary, it’s a great tool for prioritizing and optimizing your outreach strategies!
Scaling by automating
To take a page from the house, very precise segmentation, which involves working on ICPs, is a very solid foundation for the rest of your processes.
Once your ICPs have been solidly defined, why not opt for automation tools with which you can work on your segments (=ICPs) simultaneously? This will enable you to plan your relaunch, channel, and copywriting strategies in advance.
Spoiler: La Growth Machine works very well for this, so don’t hesitate to give it a try 😉
Now that you’ve understood what an ICP is and why you absolutely must define it, let’s get down to business.
I will give you our homemade method for defining a solid ICP in a few simple steps.
How to create your ICP?
Sure, you can try and ignore all the aforementioned benefits of building your ICP, but then, you’d be flying blind… almost literally.
That said, if you’re not one of those people who think prospecting can be done with huge audiences of thousands of contacts, follow me as I explain to you how you can properly create your ICP!
Step 1: Start with your Why!
P.S.: A great Simon Sinek book!
You have to know and understand your value proposition before you start doing anything else! This is where the whole process stems from.
Understanding what you’ll offer your customers means that you know (at the very least) who you should address in the first place. The next steps will slowly whittle it down.
La Growth Machine’s value proposition is simple: saving users time by automating their multi-channel prospecting.
To properly segment, you have 3 things to do:
- Grasp the problems that segments are attempting to tackle.
- Clearly identify the pain points for them.
- Determine which segment among them is struggling the most with the specified problem.
Step 2: Collect data:
Once you have your value proposition in mind, you can now start actually building your ICP.
Create a list of your best customers and categorize them according to their:
- Company size
Expert Tip 🧠
“Best customer” depends on your own definition. It’s not always the biggest client, though that’s an easy criteria to base your assumption on.
It can also be:
- Your most satisfied client.
- The client you have the closest relationship with.
- Your oldest client.
You can easily find this information with your Support team or whichever team spends the most time facing the customers/leads.
For us at La Growth Machine, a quick rundown of our Intercom conversations does the trick just fine!
Step 3: Analyze your customers:
Now that you got your list of customers, time to get into the thick of it.
Here, you need to identify patterns in each of the customers.
It’s simple really… Talk to them! Be it through interviews, collecting feedback, or, when all else fails, again, trust the people who are put in front of the customer the most.
Related Post 📝
Speaking of feedback collection, if you’re interested, I’ve written an awesome guide on how to collect customer feedback automatically using LGM!
Here are some questions to help guide your thought process behind the interviews:
Step 4: Figure out their pain points:
Why do your customers need your product? What challenges do they aim to solve with it? How do they value it?
We have this saying in our company: “Proper segmentation is about understanding the simple truth that not everyone will value your product the same way.”
This also helps you tailor your copywriting to future clients that match with your ICP.
Step 5: Document and iterate:
I put these two steps together because there’s not a lot to say about each one individually.
The title is self-explanatory:
- Document your ICP creation process so that you and your teams (Marketing/ Sales/ Support/ etc.) have a document to base your decisions on. Everyone in the company should at least read and understand this document once.
- Continue iterating on the process whenever you feel a change happening in the previous criteria we mentioned; pain points, values, etc. Keep interviewing your customers, leads, and even your churned customers!
Expert Tip 🧠
Interviewing churned customers or leads who didn’t convert is an amazing hack for getting real, down-to-earth insights. It’s a gold mine that gives you exactly what went wrong and how you can make things better.
Creating your ICP is more than a “best practice” to adopt, it’s a must. It should influence every decision in your company.
From what feature you should add to your product to how your sales team presents their pitch, everything has to stem from your ICP -and eventually personas for a more laser-focused segmentation.
If you’re still struggling to create an ICP, here’s an example of LGM that contains both ICP and Persona segmentation and how we analyze them. We call it “The LGM Matrix”: