Marketing

ABM: Building your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is, unsurprisingly, a detailed delineation of the type of client you wish to attract. So far, so self-explanatory. There is however, some science involved in the process.

There are three initial questions you will need to ask yourself in order to begin sketching out your ICP:

  • Which client(s) are of the most value to your organisation?

  • Which client(s) have been with you the longest and are the most loyal?

  • To which of your clients do you provide the most tangible value?

Arguably the last of these is the most important because without pinpointing precisely where your product / service has the most impact, you will struggle to successfully implement your account based marketing campaigns. 

The answers to the questions above will give you a list - probably a reasonably short list once you have looked for the common denominators - of clients. You then need to look at the distinguishing features of these clients and break them down into characteristics that you can then rebuild to be the basis of your ICP.

For us, the final answer to the questions, once we had found the centre of the Venn diagram was: two global law firms and a global tech company.

We then listed out the ways in which our specific products and services were of unique value to them:

  • Clever tech that solved issues around their clients finding valuable content on their website

  • Clever tech that enabled them to measure the ROI of all their marketing endeavours

  • Clever tech that enabled content personalisation at varying levels, depending on their objectives at the time

So we then had a clear idea of the client pains that we were uniquely placed to solve.

Digging Deeper – Distinguishing Features

Once you have distilled your ICP information down to knowing who your existing ideal clients are and the particular pains you are able to solve for them, you need to look at the more tangible characteristics of those clients in order to build the ICP that will help you form your Account Based Marketing campaign lists.

 

Firmographic data

In this part of the process you will need to sit and list out the company features from your distilled list in terms of things like:

  • Type of industry

  • Headcount

  • Annual revenue

  • Market vertical

  • Geographical location

  • Maturity of organisation

Almost certainly, you will begin to see some patterns emerging straight away.

Demographic data

This is more about defining the particular characteristics of your key contacts within the organisations you’ve already identified as your existing ideal clients. So this will include things like:

  • Job title

  • Length of time in role

  • Professional qualifications

  • Career path to date

  • Particular areas of professional interest

It is possible at this juncture to also include personal characteristics such as DISC or Myers Briggs personality type (and there are sneaky software packages for identifying types from written communication) but you might feel this is a step too far! It is by no means necessary, certainly at this point in the process.

Each individual organisation will have additional criteria. For example, we have realised that our ideal clients must have a dedicated in-house technical team. What are the criteria unique to your ICPs?

Once you have completed the process up to this point you can start to build your ICP from the component parts you’ve identified.

Using us as an example again, and just giving a few of the characteristics that make up our ICP, we have:

  • Professional services companies

  • UK or US based

  • With real pains around their website in terms of its ability to be ‘business intelligent’ and the consequences for return on investment

  • Headcount of over 100

  • Established for 5+ years

  • CMO / senior marketer with some technical awareness and ability

  • At least one decision maker possibly a “DISC high D”

As with all things ABM you will almost certainly tweak and fine tune your ICP as you go. As your campaigns progress you will have ever greater information to work from and, as you continue to help your clients succeed and grow you, will develop a clearer picture of the specific type of client you want to attract.

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