Ideal Customer Profile
If you want to understand your potential leads and make sense of the data you're gathering, you must create a series of descriptions for your ideal customer. These descriptions provide the foundation for each department's actions and for knowing how to direct your marketing efforts.
The Different Customer Descriptions
In order to accurately describe your potential market, you'll need the following well-rounded set of descriptions.
- Profile: A concrete description of the people visiting and interacting with your company. This depicts who you are selling to.
- Persona: A descriptive avatar for your ideal client based on real data about your existing customers. It describes how you sell to customer segments.
- Target Audience: Descriptions of groups of people you're trying to reach.
While you certainly need each of these, we're going to focus on the concept of ideal customer profiles here. This will help ensure that your departments can identify quality leads and move customers through the different phases of the buyer’s cycle.
Why Create an Ideal Customer Profile
You may have data on everyone who interacts with your company, but not all of this data reveals relevant, quality leads. That’s why it’s important to distill the data down to those descriptors that identify your ideal client.
You need to create this ideal customer profile for three reasons:
- Clarity: Everyone in your company needs to know who your ideal customer is and how to identify them. This prevents leaks, bottlenecks, and misaligned objectives.
- Consistency: Each department needs to have the same definition of your ideal customer to prevent confusion and make it easier to seamlessly work together.
- Objectivity: This profile will tie objectively to the data, eliminating costly guesswork and mismatched "gut instincts." Ideal customers are easily identified and marked.
Your customer profile helps determine your customer model, aligning with your CRM, automation, and back-end development. You'll tie these to data-driven benchmarks and refine the journey until you're reducing churn and catching as many qualified leads as possible.
Make It Cross-Functional
Anyone who has access to customer data needs to participate in defining and creating the ideal customer profile. This is important for two reasons.
- Everyone must agree.
The standard definition of your ideal customer must be consistent. It's important to hash this out, disagreements and all, until everyone in your organization has the same definition.
- It must be tied to data.
When you're working through your definitions, they must be definable. This means adding as many nouns and verbs with few adjectives. Quantifiable descriptions help you refine your progress.
With everyone in the room, you can nail down these aspects of your profile so that you all leave on the same page.
Identify and Quantify Details
Identifying and quantifying details are a large part of creating your ideal customer profile. Here's how you handle that.
Get Rid of Adjectives
Nouns and verbs are objective and easy to track, while adjectives are subject to opinion and murkier in terms of data. What does "growing" actually mean? How do you define "declining?"
You can't. Instead, use markers that can easily be plugged into a defined category. "B2B businesses doing less than 5 million in revenue per year" is much clearer than "small business."
It also helps you build in more detail, allowing you to segment further. "Companies that are less than 3 years old" is objective, whereas "startup" isn't.
You can't serve everyone. Casting a wide net may not attract the qualified leads you need. Instead, think about who you want to serve and why you are the perfect fit for that particular customer segment.
These details are part of the first step and can help you figure out why you would want to serve a particular type of customer. Look at things such as company size, time in the market, location, language, and other defined factors.
Examine these areas from the point of view of your C-suite and management, but don't forget the bottom-up perspective. Sales team members will have opinions and experiences that can also bring valuable clarity.
What To Do With Your Customer Profile
Once you've nailed down your customer profile, you can begin building the components that go into your data model. Your teams will capture and store this data to use for direction and purpose.
Define Your Attributes
Take your profile and bring out the definable attributes to tag each lead in your system. This will allow teams to quickly define which leads are quality ones and which ones don't match the ideal customer profile.
Your attributes can be simple or complex, but make sure that they enable your teams to capture the data effectively. They should quickly and effectively separate ideal customers from those who don't fit the bill.
Data alone isn't enough. Each component must have identifiers and contact details so that everyone knows and understands who a person or company actually is. This is a minimum viable context, but you can make it as complex as it needs to be.
Later, when you're retaining customers, this will also allow you to understand where each one is on the customer journey using records of interactions and activity. Your teams will have everything they need for day-to-day operations.
You need reliable sources of data to fill in blank spots. These spots include concrete aspects such as contact information, but they also include soft aspects such as customer behavior. You'll need good quality data to ensure your model is accurate.
These data sources come from three different levels:
- Directly from customers and leads: These involve things such as customer submission forms or chat conversations, for example. Any conversation initiated directly from the customer falls into this category.
- Subjective or inferred data — As an example, if a customer shows up and interacts with a certain part of your website but doesn't initiate direct contact, this data can still be a valuable lead.
- 3rd Party Data: This data comes from other areas and helps you fill in blanks for things like contact information, the field or industry, or interest. Use FullContact and Clearbit in Funnelfly to automate this collection of data.
Using these data sources, you'll be able to implement a reliable customer pipeline from quality data sources and use your customer profile to initiate certain triggering events for conversions. With this fleshed-out picture, you'll have what you need to understand target customers and get everyone on the same page.
Put Everything Into Use
Once you have the big picture and your details, you can execute your customer journey. As you gather data and implement these strategies, you'll be able to tweak aspects to provide more reliable pipelines and reduce existing customer churn.
It's this attention to detail with your ideal customer profile that cuts down on wasted resources chasing customers that aren't right for you or aren't ready to buy. Your marketing and sales efforts have a higher return on investment, and you build stable growth.
For all this to work, your company must have a clear customer profile that everyone understands. When every team member is on the same page, your departments can work as one with fewer bottlenecks and misunderstandings.
Let the clarity of customer research drive your initiatives. You'll be amazed at what you can do with the right information, the right understanding, and the right process.