The lines between ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and buyer personas are sometimes blurred, especially when marketers use both terms interchangeably. However, ICPs and buyer personas are not the same thing. They are closely linked, so in this blog, I want to make sure you understand the differences between them and how having both could help you target your exact customer to generate more leads.
Here’s the quick and dirty: Your ideal customer profile is a description of the type of company you should try to sell to and your buyer persona is a detailed analysis of the people who buy from you. Essentially, buyer personas better define the different buying patterns of companies within your target market.
Buyer Persona vs. Ideal Customer Profile: What should they focus on?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. They are very detailed descriptions of someone who represents your target audience — an embodiment of all the best characteristics and pain points of your best potential customer. Personas are defined by role, job title, age, spending power, patterns, etc.
An ideal customer profile is a hypothetical description of the type of company that would garner the most value from your product or solution, the company you want to try and sell to. ICPs are very useful to marketing organizations that utilize account-based marketing, but even having a general idea of the kind of company to target can help any B2B marketer. To define an ideal customer profile, use this kind of firmographic data:
- The average size of the company
- The average company revenue
- The ideal industry or industries
- Size of their customer base
- Technology they use
Depending on your product, service, or brand, you may want to include other data points to help you identify the right market segments for you but this is a good place to start. The one thing to remember is an ideal customer profile is a description of the company — not the individual buyer or end-user.
Do you need both buyer personas and ideal customer profiles?
An ICP and a buyer persona sound similar. And for a B2B marketer, it’s not always easy to determine whether you should be going after individual buyers or companies. This information might raise questions like “Does your ideal customer profile replace your buyer persona as a B2B?” or “Do you need both?” The short answer is yes. But let me explain…
Understanding your ideal customer profile — their challenges, their goals, firmographics, and so on — helps you to create a marketing strategy that will attract the most valuable leads to your business, the kinds of leads that turn into customers. But, at the end of the sales process, there is a human being — not a company — who signs the deal. Understanding the person, their pain points, goals, demographics, and motivations, will help too.
Having both a buyer persona and an ICP will also help you weed out unqualified leads that may get into your sales pipeline. By having clear descriptions of who would best benefit from your product or service, and the company they likely work for, you can create very targeted marketing plans and nurture the leads that will convert into sales.
Imagine this: Your B2B sales rep has found a new lead that seems like a perfect fit for your product or service and the company checks out based on the ICP you’ve created. But, without a detailed buyer persona, your rep doesn’t understand who they’re selling to within that company and the pitch falls through the cracks. Or worse, they wasted time and energy trying to sell to a role that doesn’t have the authority to sign off on the deal or isn’t the end-user.
By having predefined characteristics for the companies you market and sell to, along with the predetermined characteristic of the intended buyer, you can disqualify anyone else that isn’t a good match — ensuring your team is spending time with only the most qualified leads.
You need the full picture to seal the deal, and having both a detailed buyer persona and an ideal customer profile allows you to get a real insight into the minds of your potential customers and create marketing strategies tailored specifically to their pain points, challenges, goals, and motivations.
If you’re interested in learning more about buyer personas, check out this blog! We have tons of other educational content on our blog and in our newsletter – be sure to sign up today so you don’t miss out!