7 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Ideal Customer Profile

September 30, 2019

Portrait of a woman as Ideal Customer Profile using RollWorks

Account-based marketing continues to grow in popularity because it delivers real results and helps businesses drive more revenue. But many companies overlook one of the most important elements -- creating your ideal customer profile. ABM campaigns are only successful if you have an accurate and comprehensive ICP. 

If you’ve overlooked or struggled with this very issue, then you’re in the right place. This blog post will discuss why you need an ideal customer profile and seven mistakes you should avoid when building your own. 

Why You Need to Define Your Ideal Customer Profile

Many people confuse ideal customer profiles with buyer personas. There are similarities between the two, and both are important, but they aren’t the same thing. Buyer personas focus on individual customers while an ICP focuses on target accounts

Your ICP should focus on the characteristics of the accounts you’re targeting. It considers a company’s size, industry, location, budget, annual revenue, and more. 

An ICP matters because the entire point of ABM is to target the accounts that will be the best fit for your company and the most likely to buy from you. So if you have no idea what these accounts are then you’re not going to have a lot of luck with ABM. 

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Building an ICP

As you can imagine, the process of building an ICP is tedious and error-prone. It’s easy to make mistakes that can derail your efforts and progress. So here are seven mistakes you should avoid when building your ideal customer profile:  

Not basing your ICP on current accounts

Your ideal customer profile isn’t a wishlist. You may wish you could do business with Google but is that really representative of the companies you’ve worked with so far? 

Your ICP should reflect the types of companies that use and enjoy your services or products. So take a look at your current clients and figure out which ones represent the “best” of accounts your sales team has been able to close. 

Believing you don’t have enough customer data to get started 

While working from customer data is always ideal, don’t let that hold you back from getting started building your ICP. 

Many companies struggle to have a large enough database. If you find yourself in this situation, you can deanonymize your site traffic to begin building a profile of accounts on your site. If there's a large audience that fit the market you're going after, you can begin to strip away characteristics that make a good ICP for your business. From there, as you close more customers, you can reevaluate your ICP over time to make sure your early assumptions check out.

Relying solely on firmographic data

As we’ve already reviewed, firmographic data is incredibly helpful for creating your ICP. You want to specify things like company size, geographic location, and industry.

But firmographic data on its own isn’t enough. You also need to know what drives your target accounts to make purchasing decisions or what is the problem you’ll be solving for them. 

The firmographic data is just a starting point to help you develop a more comprehensive view of your target accounts. A key set of attributes, technographics, can give you useful information around if prospective accounts would be a good fit for your service. Do your future customers need to have a pre-existing tech stack? Are there integrations that prove easier to sell into?

Being too narrow in your definition

When you’re creating your ICP, be careful not to be too narrow in your definition of what you’re looking for. Your profile should outline the general attitudes, needs, and desires of the type of accounts you’re interested in working with. It’s not describing any one person. 

Not involving other departments

Yes, the marketing team will lead the company’s efforts when it comes to ABM. But when you’re developing your ICP, don’t make the mistake of falling into a marketing bubble. 

This happens when the marketing team takes charge of the process and doesn’t include the sales team or any other departments in the company. Sales, customer service, and anyone else who regularly interacts with customers will have valuable insights to add to this process. 

These individuals likely notice things that you may have overlooked. Of course, anything you include should be backed up with data but always be willing to consider outside opinions. 

And alignment across departments will ensure that you’re not creating a disjointed marketing strategy that will lead to wasted time and money. 

Failing to update your ICP

Your ICP is not static; it will change over time. This may sound obvious but many marketers do the hard work of developing an ICP only to forget about it and move on.

Companies and individuals within those companies will change over time. What a client needs today doesn’t necessarily reflect what they’ll need or want a year from now. 

And your own company will continue to change and grow so your ideal customer can change as well. So you should revisit your ICP at least a couple of times a year and evaluate whether it’s still relevant. 

Developing an ICP and then never using it

Your ICP should inform your content development, advertising, and interactions with leads going forward. So please don’t go to all the trouble to develop an ICP if you’re not going to use it. 

However, if you find yourself in this situation, it may be interesting to consider the reason why. Is your ICP outdated and needs to be revisited? Did the marketing team create the ICP in a bubble? Whatever the reason, identify it and take steps to rectify the situation.

Next Steps

Getting your ideal customer profile right takes time but it’s worth the effort you put into it. Avoiding these seven mistakes will help you get started on the right foot and set your company up for success going forward.

If you need guidance with your ideal customer profile, account-based platform, or other marketing efforts, RollWorks can help. Feel free to contact us and request a demo

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