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How to Develop an Ideal Customer Profile (Persona)

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You can only find your people if you know exactly who they are. The first step in finding them is developing an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or your Ideal Customer Persona. This vital exercise will save you time and money as you connect with the people who are the perfect match for your brand. 

You’ve probably heard that making sales is more about the client relationship than it is about the product itself. That’s true, but let’s assume you’ve got a great product too, and you’re eager to reach people who will become ardent supporters and customers. This post gives you pointers for how to do just that by creating an Ideal Customer Profile.

One thing to keep in mind: just like you might have a few very different friends, brands also have more than one ideal customer. In this post, we’ll look at the two main types of customers, and we’ll walk you through how to get the best results when developing the ICP.

Why Do You Need to Create an Ideal Customer Profile?

Many brands make the mistake of thinking everyone will want to buy their fantastic product, so they waste lots of time and money by launching a broad marketing strategy only to be disappointed by low sales. Here’s the reality: Not all “women over 30” want the same thing. 

When you create an Ideal Customer Profile, you’ll be able to aim your marketing strategy directly toward the people who are most likely to make purchases. This will help you craft messaging that resonates and shape campaigns that get results. 

The key is to be as specific as possible when imagining the person who would be the perfect fit for your product or service. Their profile will represent a particular segment of your target audience, so you’ll be able to tailor your outreach efforts directly to all of those people. 

The Two Main Types of Customers (and why you need an ICP for both)

If you’re a brand who sells to another company (B2B), it’s important to consider who will be using the product, as well as who will actually be buying it. These people represent different personas with different needs and priorities, and you need to understand both.

Let’s take our Brand Cards as an example. An obvious ICP is a graphic designer or brand strategist who will be using these cards during the workshop. If they’re self-employed, they’ll also make the decision to purchase them. 

When a graphic designer works for a large design firm, for example, it will be the department manager, CFO, or another stakeholder who approves the purchase of the cards. The end-user might offer their opinion on the product they prefer, but they won’t be the one paying for it.

In this case, it’s important to do two Ideal Customer Profiles because each one will have different priorities, values, and decision-making steps. The graphic designer may want high function and ease of use, whereas the CFO may want good value for the price and longevity. Both of them will participate in the decision-making during the sales process, and our website needs to convince them of the value the Brand Cards can bring. 

During a brand strategy workshop, it’s worth taking the time to identify all potential ideal customers. If a brand has several unrelated products, an ICP should be created for each. 

Hello, It’s Nice to Meet You

During the brand strategy workshop, have participants develop a fictitious profile of the ideal customer by giving them a name, age, profession, income, and place to live. They can even use a picture from a magazine that captures who they envision buying and loving the product.

Add in any other details that pertain to what the brand is selling. For example, if they’re selling healthy dog food, include that this person is a loving pet owner.

Next, dig a little deeper into this person’s problems and pain points. What needs of theirs are unfulfilled? 

A graphic designer may not be able to do their best work because of the current software’s limitations. The dog owner may be at their wits end from trying to solve their dog’s digestive issues. 

Finally, what are the top things that this person would value in a product? The designer may want great tech support and cool functions. The dog owner may value natural ingredients at a decent price point.

Obviously, this exercise requires some reverse engineering. The brand’s Ideal Customer Profiles will be based upon the features of your actual products and services. If you sell dog food, don’t make your ICP a cat lover!

Tips for Getting to Know Your Ideal Customer Profile

Here are a few pointers for how to find and cultivate the brand’s ICP once they are identified. (We’ve included examples using the dog owner whose pup has digestive issues.)  

  • Speak their language – listen to what they complain about and note their questions 
  • Hang out where they hang out – dog-lover forums and puppy social media accounts
  • Find parallel brands – if you’re selling dog food, find an Instagram about cute dog outfits
  • Develop a relationship before trying to sell – offer helpful tips & info about doggie digestive health (without mentioning your dog food)
  • Show them the dream – images of healthy dogs playing in the park

Our Brand Strategy Framework gives you in-depth guidance for how to facilitate creating Ideal Customer Profile so they generate the best results. This Framework includes an ICP template as part of the Brand Canvas, a useful tool that summarizes all the pertinent workshop info and translates it into the foundation of the brand strategy going forward. 

Creating the brand’s ICP is an exciting step that helps you visualize the people you want to attract to the brand and streamlines big decisions by making the decision-making process less personal. Having the personas on the wall or on the screen reminds you who you are creating for and who you want to attract into your brand’s orbit. 

Enjoy the process of meeting your ideal customer! 

Need to run a Brand Strategy Workshop remotely?

Brand Strategy Framework provides structure and tools to streamline and gamify your remote branding process. It comes with a workshop showcasing how to help your client or team polish up its diamond-like spark.

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