All Supply Chain Marketers Need to Develop Ideal Customer Profiles. Here’s Why.
Marketing to the majority is a waste of time and resources.
It’s too expensive to get your message out so broadly, and there’s no sense in marketing to companies that have no interest in your product. Given that our 2022 Supply Chain Marketing Outlook indicated that marketing departments lack both money and internal resources (headcount), being efficient with your marketing efforts is an imperative.
By developing ideal customer profiles (ICPs), B2B supply chain marketers can focus their efforts on attracting and keeping the right-fit customers. Before we go further, what is an ICP?
HubSpot describes an ideal customer profile as “a fictitious company that has all of the qualities that would make them the best fit for the solutions you provide.” Done correctly, an ICP can help guide your ABM strategy, your content marketing initiatives, and help smooth the edges of your sales process.Taking the time to really dig into what motivates, inspires, and resonates with the businesses you’re targeting will be invaluable in terms of formulating an effective overall marketing strategy.
If you’re interested in creating ICPs for your business, this blog post will help you to get started.
Need an Ideal Customer Profile template? Feel free to use ours.
How to get started creating an ideal customer profile (ICP)
To get started, you’ll want to think about how many ICPs you should create. Ideally, you’ll have one main ICP, but after looking at your customer data and talking to your internal stakeholders, you may have one or two more profiles that you want to include in your exercise. Make sure they are clearly distinguishable from one another in many categories.
Next, you’ll want to establish basic demographics.
- # employees
Then add information that is specific to your business:
- Customer lifetime value
- Length of the sales cycle
Leverage existing customer data as a guide
Don’t guess when it comes to plotting demographic data. Look at your existing customer data to guide this step for your ICP. Your CRM can be helpful. Parse through the information you have and look for trends. Consider using ZoomInfo to append the data, and to get a clearer picture of who your most profitable customers are, and identify what company demographics they have in common (e.g. company size, industry, revenue, etc.).
Bring in the rest of the team
Next, you’ll want to convene with your customer service and sales teams, and their higher-ups, to confirm your findings and dig deeper into what makes a great customer. Review the demographics you’ve identified before turning to the next round of questions:
- Are there any other consistent attributes for the type of business that fits your ICP? What might you have missed?
- Can you find attributes that are specific to your type of business? For example, if you are a TMS provider, you may be interested in the number of trucks (for carriers) or freight volumes for shippers.
- What is the typical internal structure and org chart for your ICP?
- What company (current solution) might they be buying that you want to replace?
- What are their organizational challenges and pain points?
- What are their strategic goals that relate to the value of our product or service?
- Why do we win over other solutions?
Often, internal stakeholders have the answers to some of these questions, but you may also take it a step deeper by conducting customer interviews (which can help you develop buyer personas as well).
Define the buying committee
Knowing the members and dynamics of the buying committee for your ICP is another essential component. Understanding the individual needs, motivations, and roles within the buying process allows marketers to craft targeted messages that address each committee member’s unique requirements.
Understanding who is involved in the decision-making process also helps sellers avoid wasting time engaging gatekeepers who do not have authority or influence to make a purchase. With knowledge of who is responsible for making decisions and what factors drive their decisions, both marketing and sales teams can optimize their efforts toward closing deals.
For this portion of the ICP, you may once again have data in your CRM to lean on. Look closely at deals and opportunities. What is the professional level of the individual pushing the deal along? Who else is in your CRM influencing the deal? Who is ultimately signing off on the deal?
A few different components of the buying committee that you’ll want to identify and seek to understand are:
- The Champion. This is the title of the individual who is motivated to buy your product or service. You want to identify their pain points.
- The Decision Maker. The title of the person who signs off on the deal.
- The Influencers. Will other departments be impacted by your product or service? If so, who else will be asked to weigh in on the buying decision? Will internal resources from IT or finance play a role? List all relevant titles and departments.
- The Blockers. Within the organization, these are the titles/departments who are most likely to stay with the status quo or actively oppose the purchase due to a perceived negative impact.
For each category, you’ll want to list the goals, concerns and objections that will arise during the sales process, and the typical stage at which they will join. At this point you should have a clear picture of who you will be talking to and a roadmap to navigate the issues they care about.
Put your ICP to work
Creating an effective ICP is one of the best investments your business can make. So make sure you put it to good use. HubSpot says, “if done correctly, an ICP can help define the problems you’re solving for, align your product/service capabilities with customers’ needs, and assist in laying out your future road map for product/service updates and changes.” We couldn’t agree more.
Once you have gathered enough data points to build out an effective ideal customer profile, you’re ready to put that information into action. This may look like:
- Reviewing your organization’s key messaging and updating it to speak to your ICP
- Auditing your website and sales materials for alignment
- Segmenting your audiences in your marketing automation system
- Creating new fields in your CRM to capture important company attributes that set your ICPs apart from one another
- Creating more targeted audiences for your digital marketing campaigns
- Reviewing the marketing channels you’re using – if you put yourself in the shoes of your ICP, are they the right channels?
- Auditing your event presence. If you have previous attendee lists or leads in the CRM, are they the right companies?
- Creating lookalike target lists for your sales team
Developing an ideal customer profile is a valuable exercise for any business. You will understand the specific needs, interests, and behaviors of your chosen audience; establish a connection with them; and empower you to market your services more effectively and efficiently.
Knowing who you are targeting will help cut out unnecessary time, money, and effort spent on ineffective strategies or campaigns that don’t actually speak to those who are most likely to purchase from you.
When properly established, an ICP will give you a clear, evidence-based definition of how your business can gain a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace. Use this resource to help direct your marketing initiatives at your target market to optimize results at every stage of the buying cycle to achieve your objectives.
If creating an ICP feels like a heavy lift, there’s help
Parsing through your customer and prospect data, evaluating your deals, appending your company data, and thoroughly interviewing your internal teams to create a comprehensive ICP can take a significant amount of time. While your marketing team keeps all of the plates spinning, a marketing agency can help you identify and analyze the key attributes and characteristics that define your ICP, in much less time than it would take your likely overburdened and under-resourced team. They can also assist with assessing customer segmentation data and gathering insights on buying behaviors, demographics, psychographics, and more.
If you’re interested in creating an ICP to direct your marketing efforts, but you need some help, please give us a call. We’d be glad to help.
One of our supply chain marketing experts can help you put your ICP together in no time.