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3 Reasons your ‘Ideal’ Customer Profile may Actually be Less than Ideal

The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a cornerstone for companies seeking to optimize their targeting strategies. However, the traditional ICP model often falls short of delivering the actionable insights necessary for driving effective marketing campaigns. Barnett Strategies has been helping B2B SaaS companies define, test, and revise their ICPs since 2016. We’re excited to share three of the most common pitfalls we see, and how you could supercharge your ICP to gain faster, better B2B sales results. 


Reason #1: Your ICP either isn’t specific enough – or is way too specific


We often see companies with ICPs on both ends of this spectrum. An ICP that is not specific enough (eg. Women in the United States) renders it more of a broad guideline than a precise roadmap for success. However, an ICP that is too specific (eg. red-haired, left-handed, baseball players in Boston) often isn’t searchable in today’s databases, and/or leaves you with too small a target audience. 


Most businesses correctly identify the company aspect of their ICP, including things like:

  • Industry (Pro tip: identify NAICS codes to make this even more searchable)
  • Geography
  • Company size, either by employee count or revenue
  • Website Keywords – any specifics that make it a “good” company for your ICP. For example, maybe you are targeting clothing stores, but only stores that sell women’s clothing


Where we see most businesses fall flat is within their persona and job title hunt. We often see the common and unhelpful internal debate about which title is THE BEST title to target. We recommend targeting at least four different titles and let the results speak for themselves. Your ICP should include:


  • Seniority (this should include a few levels – eg. VP, Director)
  • Titles (again, have a variety of these, who is most likely to respond?)
  • Keywords – this can be used to search job descriptions (like on LinkedIn) and titles you might have missed otherwise.
  • Priority of titles– this is the step we see skipped most often!


Because your products/offerings likely have different target personas, you’ll want to prioritize your target titles for every product/offering your company has. The result should look something like this:

Reason #2: You don’t know enough numerically about your total addressable market


Many businesses struggle with a fundamental blindspot: they omit the homework needed to understand the total addressable market (TAM) within each vertical of their ICP. Furthermore, they don’t know how much of this market is in their CRM and is being reached by their marketing efforts. The consequence? Campaigns that lack alignment with critical data points, resulting in misalignment between strategy and results. 


Documenting this gap between your TAM and CRM should look something like this:

With this knowledge you can create a plan to close the gap between the TAM and your database, resulting in a complete database of every company you should be targeting. 


Reason #3: You aren’t using your ICP in all of the optimal  ways


Now that you’ve put in the work to define your ICP and TAM, it’s time to apply this to every tactic you’re deploying – from social media and industry events to your website and marketing emails. We suggest making a list of every marketing tactic you’re deploying and reviewing each for necessary improvements to reflect your ICP. 


Most importantly, stop sending the same marketing email to everyone in your database. Don’t just take it from us, Mailchimp agrees, treat your database as individual customers, not “Clustomers.” You don’t need to have 15 different versions of every email you send, but you do need to segment (we recommend 2-5 segments) and send tailored content to the humans in your database.


And don’t forget to revisit your ICP regularly to revise based on the results and findings from your campaigns – this should not be a static document.


Are you ready to overcome these obstacles to make your ICP 5x more valuable for your business, and yield more qualified leads sooner? Download our free template or book a workshop with Barnett Strategies and we’ll guide you through the process.