ICP. Ideal Client Profile. The first step in the outreach process, or even in most types of marketing. Why is defining your ideal client profile crucial? Because you need to know who you’re talking to. You need to know whose problems you are good at solving. You can talk to everyone. But when you talk to everyone, rarely anybody listens. When you talk to everyone, it’s really hard to pique their curiosity and interest.
And when it comes to B2B, talking to everyone never works. No company is the same. Just like people, they share some similarities, but they have their unique traits, as well. It would be really nice if you have the time and the budget to focus on each company as a different entity and tailor your message accordingly. But if you are an SME looking to grow, you are working with limited resources, and you need to make the most out of them.
That’s why we always advise you to focus on the similarities. Find the similarities between the companies that will value your solution the most. Or to put it in other words, take the time to define your ideal client profile. Not only your message will resonate more, but you’ll also be better at selling, which means bigger revenues. This also means that you’ll get to work with the type of clients that you truly enjoy working with.
Now that I got your attention, and hopefully reassured you that you need to take this step, the time comes for me to give you some real value. There are a lot of articles out there regarding the ideal client profile (ICP). And I wanted to bring you a new, different perspective. I mean, I have helped numerous, and various clients define theirs. I even worked tirelessly for some time defining BizzBee’s ICP. But I have so many other things on my mind. And ICP is not my focus. But it is Gorazd’s.
All his working energy is focused on helping our clients with this step. The ICP is his forte. And I thought, there is no one more suitable to put in the spotlight, for this particular article. So I took some of the most frequent and interesting questions we got asked regarding ICP and interviewed our most experienced ICP researcher – Gorazd Majstorovikj.
Before you dive in the interview, just let me say one more thing, if you are having second thoughts. It is better to invest some time and budget in defining your ICP, than to waste your marketing budget and time on the wrong target.
1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.
– I am the Senior Researcher at BizzBee Solutions (as the title suggests), and my workload consists of everything that is research-heavy. This includes business planning, market research and feasibility studies, Ideal Client Profiling, and any other specific projects that are information-driven and require a keen eye for details. So my workday is filled with information, details, and analytics. That’s why, in my spare time, I like to unwind and set information and data processing aside for a bit. Most of the time, I either listen to music, watch mystery, crime or documentary movies and series or just pick up an interesting book to read.
2. What does a typical day for an ICP researcher look like?
– Well, I don’t like to speculate about all ICP researchers out there, but I can tell you all about my typical day. It usually begins with a morning pre-work exercising, a healthy breakfast, and a hot cup of coffee. These things are detrimental to providing a clear focus for the day’s workload. And you need the right amount of caffeine to be able to keep up with all the data. And during my seven and a half effective working hours, the ICP research has my full and undivided attention. Once I’ve concluded the day’s work, I tend to my cat (grooming, petting, playing all of that good stuff). Afterwards, I usually get lunch going, as I enjoy the evening unwinding.
3. How many ICPs have you made so far?
– Hmm, the ICP is a fairly new service in BizzBee Solutions. It was introduced just over a year ago, but we are continually working on its improvement. The process was adjusted, improved, and fine-tuned over the bigger part of the year. Let me get back on the topic, even if the service is not that old, as the Senior ICP researcher, I’ve defined dozens of ICPs so far. I must say I am very satisfied with the quality and the number of ICP researches we’ve done so far. And what’s more important so are our clients. We’ve made real breakthroughs for some of them, while confirming the assumptions for others.
4. What are the key things you are considering when defining the ideal client profile?
– The fundamental thing to keep in mind while researching is to understand the bigger idea, the grand picture that the ICP will portray. This means carefully researching and narrowing down the profiles of the prospects that are going to be truly beneficial to our client, and not just cowering behind the overused phrase in business “there is ample potential in these areas… and so on”. This mindset should be also reverse-engineered, meaning that our client’s offering should be also viewed from the ICPs eyes, and see if they can truly benefit from such solution/service. Getting these two perspectives right, are the equation for ICP success, in my opinion.
5. Can you give us a short overview of the process you are doing to define the ICP?
– Sure. I familiarise myself with the client’s company, bio, history, services, products, offering, partners, and affiliations. I try to consume every bit of information that helps me understand and portray the client’s company as my own. This enhances my understanding of who the client is, what they offer, and it directs my attention towards the landscape where their ideal clients may reside.
Afterwards, I begin with my research methodology where I draw knowledge from our client’s client base, their competitors, and their client base, as well as data from various researches, reports, and articles. This helps me narrow down the list from “potential” clients to ideal ones.
Lastly, I perform a LinkedIn industry research to finalise my findings and introduce concrete numbers showing the exact number of ideal clients they can easily reach out to.
6. Tell us a story when you found something unexpected while defining an ICP for a client.
– Often something unexpecting pops up while I’m doing research. There are so many stories I can share. Maybe I should start writing them down. 😊 Here is one off the top of my head. We had a client that wanted to enter the U.S. medical outsourcing service-providing landscape, and they were interested in learning who their ideal clientele would be. Our research showed that medical outsourcing is way more multi-faceted than the client expected.
We figured out that they need to carefully consider the type of medical outsourcing services they would be capable of providing, whether back-office obligations, revenue cycle management, medical billing, and so on. This new information took our client aback a bit. But it also made them to carefully plan and optimise their business approach before going forward. I believe we saved them thousands of dollars of in vain investment with our insightful research.
7. Tell us a story of defining an ICP that made you proud.
– A well-known cloud service provider from Southeast Asia wanted to enrich their client pool. However, they were unsure who their new clientele should be, or the type of companies they should be contacting for potential future business transactions. Following our ICP methodology, we researched and identified three new Ideal Client segments for our client. Segments which they were not really aware of.
After we presented our findings, our statistics and analysis, our client was amazed by the ICP findings and immediately gave the green light to proceed onto the next step – creating a database of all relevant companies that fit the ICP criteria. One of the project’s output was a highly satisfied client, a database of more than 3,500 companies matching the ICP criteria, and numerous new clients for our client.
8. What advice would you give to companies that are trying to figure out their ICP?
– First of all, I would suggest setting aside the mindset “we have a product, let’s see who is most likely to buy it”. But rather focus on one or two key aspects your product/service flawlessly solves. This means that you would also have to observe your solution through the eyes of the entity that would have these one or two key pain points. This drastically narrows down your ideal client pool, which is a good thing! Don’t let it discourage you. If you manage to solve a key pain point for an ideal client, you will surely gain a client who will stick around through thick and thin.
9. What are the most common misunderstandings and mistakes when creating ICP?
– As a matter of fact, there is one most common misunderstanding that people have when it comes to the ideal client profile. And that is their notion that their software/tool/solution/service/product is a perfect fit for anybody, for any business, for any industry and any type of user. I’m not saying that that’s never the case. But even if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all businesses, industries, positions, and the like, can equally benefit from it. We always like to ask the question: If you only have 1000$ of marketing budget, who will you target?
10. Is there anything that you would like to add?
– If any of the above resonated with you, if you have any doubts regarding ICP or research in general, BizzBee Solutions is around to provide support for you and your business. I can’t wait to work with you in defining your ideal client.
We want Gorazd to have the final word when it comes to ICP. I hope you find this interview as exciting, engaging and enjoyable as I did. We should probably do this more often.
Danco is a serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of a 3-year-old and a burger enthusiast. He is inspired by growth and goes above and beyond to make it possible – whether it comes to his 300+ clients or his people. Eager to learn more? Follow Danco on LinkedIn and Facebook.