Creating An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Account-based marketing (ABM) programs are wildly successful because they focus on generating revenue from a carefully selected list of target accounts — in other words, exclusively from companies that are a great fit for your solution. Instead of waiting for leads to come to you, your sales and marketing teams will collaborate to turn your target accounts into customers and advocates for your brand.

Getting started with account-based marketing is not as daunting a task as you might think. In fact, it can be broken up into seven straightforward steps.

The seven steps to getting started with account-based marketing are:

1. Assemble your account-based marketing team
2. Define your ABM goals and strategy
3. Select your ABM technology
4. Identify and prioritize your target accounts
5. Select your channels and craft your messaging
6. Execute your account-based marketing campaigns and begin sales outreach
7. Evaluate and optimize your ABM campaigns

In this article, we will focus on step #4: identify and prioritize your target accounts. After all, you can’t market and sell to accounts if you don’t know who they are.

In order to do this, you must define your company’s ideal customer profile or ICP.

What is an Ideal Customer Profile?

An ideal customer profile is a description of the company — not the individual buyer or end user — that’s a perfect fit for your solution.

Your ICP should focus on relevant characteristics of your target accounts, such as:

  • Industry/vertical
  • Employee headcount — companywide and within key departments
  • Annual revenue
  • Budget
  • Geography
  • Technology they use
  • Size of their customer base
  • Level of organizational or technological maturity

Ideal Customer Profiles vs. Buyer Personas

B2B marketers often question the difference between an ICP and a buyer persona. Does your ideal customer profile replace your buyer personas? Do you need both?

ICPs and buyer personas are not the same thing, but they are closely linked. While ABM is focused on accounts rather than leads, it’s important to remember that each account is still made up of individuals with diverse roles and priorities. This is where your buyer personas come in. For example, you may decide that the presence of specific stakeholders at an account is a key characteristic of your ideal customer profile.

RESOURCE: If you need a framework for building your buyer personas, use the multipage worksheet in the Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing.

Ideal Customer Profile Worksheet

Account-based marketing worksheet - ideal customer profile ICP

Download the three-page worksheet by completing the form in the upper corner of this page. This will help to get to know your company’s ideal customer and define your ICP. For the best results, don’t fill this out on your own! Schedule a time to have your marketing, sales, and customer success teams sit down and go through the worksheet together so everyone is on the same page about your ideal customer profile.

Example of an Ideal Customer Profile

The ideal customer profile for a B2B help desk software company might look something like this:

Our ideal client is a B2B SaaS company in the U.S. or Canada that has a customer service team of at least 10 people and ARR of at least $20 million. Their customer base is made up of small and medium sized businesses that require significant hands-on training and support.

As you can see, this ideal customer profile doesn’t hit on every single characteristic we discussed above. It’s up to your team to determine which factors are the most important to include in your ICP.