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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Schneider

How To Find Your Ideal Customer Profile

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Customer profiles have been commonly used in successful businesses all over the globe. Not every sale is alike. And not every customer is a good customer. If you talk to everyone, you will also talk to no one. Thus for any organized, structured, and planable sales approach, you will need to start with a clearly defined profile of your customers.

This will help you to spend better your time and your efforts in selling and marketing.

In this article, we will show you how to create such a profile, what to watch out for, and how it will benefit your sales success over the long run.

Let's get started.

What is a Customer Profile?

ideal customer profile
Who really is the person you are selling to?

The ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of the person or company that would have the greatest benefit from your product or service. In many cases, this also includes those persons who have the shortest sales cycle and achieve the highest revenue numbers.

Your customer profile will be the starting and endpoint of all marketing activities.

It is the sum total of all available data you have about the customer, optimized to achieve the highest probability of buying your product.

Here are some examples of the information we can use to identify our ideal customer profile:

  • The ideal size of a company

  • The type of device used to visit our homepage

  • Number of employees

  • Ideal industry

  • Past buying behaviour

  • Ideal location

  • Age

  • … and many more!

By putting all of this together, you are creating a fictional persona that is tailored to be the best customer you can get for your business.

An Ideal Customer Profile is often also confused with a buyer persona. However, the buyer persona focuses on one distinct person or multiple persons that your products or service focus on (we will explain it later in the article). The Ideal Customer Profile can therefore include buyer personas as it covers a broader picture.

With a clearly defined customer profile, you should get a clear idea of who is more likely than others to buy, who is probably spending more than others, and who can most benefit from the product or solution you provide.

Benefits of using a Customer Profile

If you know exactly who to target with your marketing and sales efforts, your dollars and time invested will be much better spent than without a customer profile.

The less you know about your ideal customer, the more general and broader your marketing has to be to find the right customer. Remember: if you talk to everyone, you also talk to no one. The more we know what our best potential customers look like, the more ROI can we generate from all our sales and marketing activities. We are therefore also less likely to waste time with trivial prospects.

It is always a better idea to have a higher ROI for every dollar you spend and the time you invest in it. Your acquisition cost per customer can significantly be reduced if you work with a customer profile instead of just marketing and selling to a large number of people. Once you have sold a certain number of products, you will also notice patterns about which customers caused frustration and problems and which are the ones we would like to have more of.

Your ICP makes marketing easier because we can clearly specify our message to that specific target group. Customers who then respond to specified messages will in most cases be a much better fit for our offering compared to the 1 out of 100 people we randomly come in contact with through mass marketing without a clear customer profile.

It thereby makes generating leads and acquiring new customers not only cheaper but also more effective by having a much higher probability of closing the actual sale.

In saturated markets especially, if only a few companies make use of creating their customer profile, then this could give them an actual competitive edge over others in their market.

But wait - there's more.

Customer Profiles also help you to reduce complaints and customer turnover in the long run. Since more targeted and better-fit customers will buy from you, the number of complaints and returns usually will go down as well.

How to Create a Customer Profile

sales and marketing
Clear data allows you to track every move of your customers.

Past Buying Behavior

The simplest way to create your ICP is to scan your past customers and look for similarities among the best customers you had. Determine common characteristics or rules that might be an indicator for future projects and start from there. Also don’t forget to ask for feedback and involve your best customers in the process by directly asking them for their input.

Our customers also leave their “digital footprints” online which can give us hints about preferences and past or future behavior. And as time goes on, the algorithmic filtering of this data becomes better and better at predicting what we are about to do. We can therefore also make great use of this data when we are creating our ICP.

All these little data tracks can be combined to create a bigger picture of who a person is, what they like and dislike, and so forth.

There are many tools available at your disposal you can use for free to help you track such events and clues. The most common will be analytics provided by the Content Management System you use for your websites, such as WordPress, Wix, or Shopify.

Then you can use some free Webmaster tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and others.

If you are directly marketing online, Social media Ads, Google Ads, and all other providers these days will also let you use vast amounts of data and profiles to target your products.

Here are some criteria for creating your customer profile to start with:

  • Past buying behavior

  • Repeat visitors to our website

  • Interactions with your homepage

  • Sending requests or calling your company

  • Engagement on Social Media

  • Liking or commenting on one of your blog posts

  • Repeat purchases

  • Customer journeys

  • Abandoned carts

  • Spending x amount of time on your website

  • etc.

Demographics and interests

Beyond the online world, many clues can make a prospect a good fit or not. These are the more classical criteria and require less technical knowledge to tap into. For example, when you advertise in a newspaper for sports cars you can expect that primarily males between 20-50 will be the readers. The newspaper will have these and many other data and provide them for advertisers, in most cases even for free. Whatever your ICP looks like, there will be similar places online and offline where this group congregates. Try to figure out such places where your ideal customers spend their spare time or find something they are interested in and find out as many things about them as you can.

The more data you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to find your Ideal Customer Profile.

The following are some typical customer criteria in a B2C market:

  • Demographic

  • Habits

  • Consumer preferences (e.g. which other brands do they like?)

  • Age

  • Goals

  • Occupation

  • Values

  • Sex

  • Income level

  • Interests

  • etc.

If you sell in a B2B Market, of course, the profile and its criteria will look a little different.

Depending on what your best customers look like and how your sales process works, there might be different criteria you need to look at for your situation.

In a B2B market, you might also consider these criteria for your customer profile:

  • Company size

  • Number of employees

  • Production process

  • Industry

  • Specialization / Niches

  • Final products

  • Location within the same state / Legislation

  • etc.

All of these criteria allow you to filter through the mass of consumers you can target.

The more criteria you implement in your marketing, the smaller your final group of potential customers will be.

The smaller your target group becomes, the higher the probability that one of them can really use your product.

And the more focused your targeting is, the higher ROI can we generate with our sales and marketing efforts.

Today's hyper-targeted marketing method allows you to use all these and many other factors for your advertising and lead generation. You can then proceed and insert one criterion after the other which helps you to determine the best fit for your product.

For example:

You could target only men, aged 18 to 24, who have visited your website, read at least 1 blog post, have abandoned your e-commerce once with items in their shopping cart, watched Squid Game on Netflix, read the Business Week magazine, go to the Coachella festival and have been on Holiday in Paris at least once.

The amount of targeting is so precise today that you can start with millions of people and insert one criterion after another until you are finally left with only 1 person at the end.

Goals and Pain Points

Another important aspect to look out for is the current challenges the people in your ICP might be facing. It could be a certain trigger event in their life or a specific desire that they have to make your products an ideal solution.

The more you know about the customer’s situation, the more targeted can you create your advertising and sales strategies to fit exactly these needs.

Who is it for?

The best customer profile is the one which will most likely lead to a sale.

It is always a good idea to look at past successes in your business and analyze why the customer was really buying from you. This means that you should start with the product you offer.

What characteristics does it have, and from whom is it the ideal solution?

Find out who has had the most success from becoming your customer in the past.

Also, look for direct customer feedback you received over the past and see if it leaves clues as to who benefitted the most from it. Focus on the big promise your product makes.

What problems does it initially solve?

For whom?

Why do they buy your product and not your competitors?

You have to dig deep and understand who uses your product and why. Don’t be afraid to get out of the office and visit customers on-site for some interviews to see firsthand how your products are being used. This often gives clues as to who will be a good fit in the future.

Then select the criteria for your customer profile that will most likely lead to the best customers you have had.

How To Use Your Ideal Customer Profile

creating customer profile
Have you seen this man? He is suspected to be our customer!

Now that you have all this data together and know what your perfect customer profile looks like, how can you best make use of it?

There are several ways you can put such a profile into practical use for business.

In sales, you can use it to personalize your pitches, sales scripts, and conversations. In marketing, you can personalize your ad targeting, and ad copy and emphasize the most important point according to your ICP. The more specific you are in your messaging and targeting, the better results can you expect.

1. Create a buyer persona

A popular way of using the customer profile is to create a buyer persona, built around all of the information you have gathered so far and combined in 1 fictional person. Usually, you give your persona a name, define her age, her salary, and all other important factors that will help you to make your product attractive to her.

For example:

Mary. She is between 30 and 40, goes to the gym regularly, reads the People magazine, is self-employed or running her own business, makes a 6-figure income a year, and has a dog as her pet. The persona then specifies all the marketing and sales-related activities your team will undertake to appeal to “Mary”.

Will she like our new product? Will she opt-in on our website? Will she benefit from the new solution we provide for her? Etc.

The more details you have in your persona, the clearer the targeting for your marketing and sales.

However, be aware that every additional criterion for your persona will exclude people who do not fit into exactly this scheme! On the other hand, a more detailed persona also means more focus for your sales efforts. So in these cases, really check it makes sense to exclude everyone who does not read People magazine for example. Unless you have an unlimited amount of leads, a too narrow targeting can also cripple your own sales process.

2. Segment your market into multiple customer profiles

To not become too focused on one single customer group and neglect all those who do not fit exactly in this criteria, it often makes sense to have more than just one ideal customer profile.

This could mean that every product line has a different ideal customer profile. This makes sense if one product has different benefits than the other products.

Another typical way of segmentation would be to sort your ICPs according to industry, estimated deal sizes, and the like.

Or it could mean that you have several buying personas for the same product line because it makes more sense to be open for several opportunities at once.

It gives you the benefit of having the precise targeting of a single customer profile, while simultaneously being able to target various customer groups. Especially for larger corporations, this will be the best solution.

3. Focus your marketing efforts directly on your customer profile

After you have created the ideal customer profile, it should be obvious that every further marketing and sales effort you start should be aimed at targeting people who fit into this profile only.

Having a more precise message for a more targeted group should help drive up conversion rates, improve sales quotes, and help create more revenue overall.

If in doubt about the benefits, you can test 2 sales or marketing campaigns against each other. One without the customer profile, and the next one with it. The results will pretty sure speak for themselves.

Marketing and Sales without a Customer Profile

Let's take a look at what companies do that have not defined a clear customer profile.

Without it, companies begin to market and sell their products to just anybody they come in contact with.

It is the classical spray-and-pray approach. Marketers send out massive advertising to a broad audience and then hope that these approaches will find the right people.

And sometimes it can actually work and create a good return on investment.

But these cases are becoming rarer.

Back in the day, there was a saying that in marketing half of what you spend in your budget will be wasted. The only problem was that it was impossible to find out which half was wasted. At least this was before data and metrics-driven marketing and sales tools arrived.

Traditional advertising spends millions on TV, radio, or newspaper advertising without any clear targeting. These ads were still effective for big companies because their reach was so huge that some small percentage of this massive audience still converted into sales.

At least if your company was big enough that you could afford to play this game long enough.

Over the last few years, mass marketing has continued to lose its effectiveness. And by having a clearly defined customer profile, it is also no longer necessary.

Since the internet has begun to dominate the world we live in, we all have started to leave “digital footprints” from our behavior online.

Many of these footprints also leave clues to our behaviors and consumer preferences outside of these digital areas and allow us to predict what brands we wear, where we want to go on vacation, and even when an important family member has their birthday.

To make it short, nowadays the spray-and-pray approach of advertising can still be used - but it would be wasteful to do so.

Instead, marketers now can hyper-target their advertising to the exact audience they want to reach.

Even more so, you can adjust the ad copy, the pictures, and much more depending on who exactly will see your ads.

The experience can be completely personalized to your ICP to maximize engagement.

It not only allows a clearer picture of who will be our customers, but most importantly it allows a much higher ROI for the advertiser. Remember that half of your budget was wasted but you didn’t know which half it was? This rule does not apply any longer.

Marketing and sales budgets can still be wasted - but only if you neglect to use the tools and information we have at our disposal today. And they start with the Ideal Customer Profile.

Summing up:

The longer you are in business, the more you should know about your customers.

The more you know about your customers, the clearer and more detailed your ideal customer profile should be.

And the more detailed your customer profile is, the more results will come from your sales and marketing efforts.


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