Build Real Ideal Customer Profiles - Your Targeting Will Soar

If you've spent any time online trying to figure out who your customers are - and we know you have, that's how you ended up here - then you probably know a bit about personas and ideal customer profiles. Most persona and ideal customer templates have you filling out the same information. Unlike us, their focus is on demographics. This sort of information is relatively easy to glean, and unsurprisingly, there are many lead generation companies out there that specialize in collecting it and selling it to whoever is buying. That’s because they’re in the business of published information which is sold again and again.

Instead of getting caught up in details that in the end won't actually help you, here is how we think about ideal customer profiles. It all comes down to whether a company has the problem you solve. The way you determine whether they have a problem that your products or services solve is by thinking about how their business operates and what they value as a company. Click here to skip down to read through an example of how we build ICPs, or read on to get the full experience of changing your thinking.

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Unquestioned Time-Honored Traditions

Let's take a look at an example of a traditional ICP you may come across. A customer of ours sells video production services to small businesses in Denver, CO. Basically they help people come up with ideas for short videos to add to their websites or YouTube channels, then they take care of all the production - from scripts to filming to editing the video and adding graphics. When someone asked them who their ideal customer was, this is what they used to say.

Size of business: 5-50 employees

Location: Denver, CO

Industries: anything other than media and digital marketing agencies

Annual Revenue: 500K+

Job Title: marketing coordinator, marketing manager, etc.

Ideal Customers? Maybe

They'd zero in on only companies in Denver because that's where they're located and typically need to visit the locations for filming. They wanted to find companies with at least five people, so they may actually have something to talk about. Most industries can benefit from video services, but media companies and marketing agencies often take care of video projects in-house. They added in a minimum revenue as well because companies making less may not have prioritized your sort of services and may not value video yet. How many small businesses do you think fit this description in Denver?

It's a lot

It's hard to come up with an exact number without dropping some dime. We do know, from census data, that in 2012 there were 79,097 total "firms" in Denver county. "Firms" means all non-farm businesses both with and without employees. That number is up from 2008 when Denver had 73,406 businesses. That data is a little old, but we can suppose safely that there are now more than 79,000 businesses in Denver county. We also know that in 2017, Colorado registered 117,648 new businesses statewide. Nice job, Colorado entrepreneurs! All these numbers taken together will give us an idea of how many total businesses there are before we start narrowing them down with our ideal customer profile.

Let's say there are about 85,000 businesses in Denver because that's in line with past growth. If Denver is like the rest of the United States, about 99.7% of those will be classified as "small businesses." So now you have 84,745 to look at. To narrow this further into businesses with 5-50 employees, we'll take away the average of 30% of businesses that are a one-person operation, the average of 44% that have 2-5 employees, and the average of 1% of businesses that have more than 50 employees. That leaves them with 21% of the small businesses in Denver, CO - 17,796.


We All Know You're Better Than This

We could keep going here, but I'm sure this word problem is starting to give you flashbacks from standardized testing. Also, since "media" and "digital marketing" aren't exactly NAICS codes, some lead companies will have trouble coming up with a way to exclude those from the search. Excluding Arts, entertainment, & recreation, or maybe Professional, scientific, & technical services could work. However, either of those is going to remove potential customers and won't completely remove all the bad fits.

The point is this: this ideal customer profile based solely on demographics is not good enough for you. You're efficient and spend your time wisely so you need what we call motivated prospects rather than leads. It takes more than demographics to know if someone is motivated.

But what about the job titles? Surely we're not looking for companies, but rather for marketing departments at companies. Move on from job titles because they tell you little about that person's role in their specific company. Do you think the marketing manager at an industrial manufacturing company will have the same needs and interests as the marketing manager at a SaaS company? Nope! You're really going to enjoy only talking to the people that want to listen to you.

Be Inspired - Make New Traditions

To start, you need to analyze your best customers for trends. This customer realized that their production company's best customers had a YouTube account. Many of their customers, before they started working together, mentioned thought leadership and had a lot of written content on their websites. These trends signal that a company is interested in making content, but that they haven't figured out how to make a lot of video yet.


Now You Know Their Problem

Armed with these trends our customer knows more about the problem these companies have. This is much more helpful than knowing how much money they have or how long they've been in business. Neither of those things can tell you whether they will be interested in video. Steady content creation, a YouTube channel, and an interest in thought leadership are all signals that they will be interested in video.

Here's another story from one of our customers and how they determined their ICP. This small company supports lawyers in gaining more clients. Since lawyers can have such a wide variety of specialization, they only wanted to get in front of certain ones. The lawyers that match their ideal customer profile handle auto accidents.

First they had Onemata search for lawyers in certain cities. Then they narrowed their search by only looking for lawyer websites that have these and similar terms on their websites: "Auto accident," "Personal injury," and "Vehicle repair costs." This put them in contact with only the lawyers that specialized in auto accident cases.

Tag, you're it!

This makes sense, right? Here's the juice - there are people out there that have a problem that your company is built to solve. You can't tell by demographics if someone will have the right problem. They could have already solved it, or maybe the problem is there but isn't big enough for them to have decided to solve it yet.

Now we want you to think about your solution. What problems does it solve? How urgent are those problems? Start by thinking back to the best and easiest sales you've ever had. You know the ones. Where you and the potential client just clicked. They needed you badly and made your solution a priority. When you're ready, we've put together a guide to walk you through creating your own ideal customer profile.

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