Resources Go-to-market

Target audience and ideal customer profiles

Written by
Rudy Lai
Last Updated
May 04, 2023
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This is our 7 part guide with everything you need to understand the basics of go-to-market (GTM) and increase revenue globally. You’ll also find links to useful content from our blog throughout, so you can forge your own path to GTM mastery. Here are the chapters:

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To succeed in marketing and sales, you need to understand your ideal customer.

By defining your target audience and creating an ideal customer profile (ICP), you can maximize your time and resources.

In this blog post, we'll cover how to define your target audience and ICP, so that you can create a go-to-market plan to engage with your target accounts.

What is a target audience?

A target audience is a group of people or organizations who are likely to be interested in a product or service.

To accurately identify and define your target audience, research and analyze your current customer base.

Employ surveys and focus groups to gain insights into the attitudes and behaviors of potential customers. According to SurveyMonkey, 75% of businesses that use surveys have seen an improvement in their ability to identify their target audience.

While your target audience could include multiple segments or subgroups of people who may benefit from your offerings, without being overly specific about individual characteristics; An ICP is a more specific description of the customer who is most likely to buy and retain.

Once you've identified your target audience, it's time to create an ideal customer profile (ICP).

What is an ideal customer profile (ICP)?

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of the type of customer that is most likely to benefit from your product or service and become a loyal customer.

Think of it as a blueprint that helps you identify and target the most promising prospects for your product or service.

Defining an ideal customer profile (ICP) involves a few key steps:

  1. Analyze your current customer base: Look at your existing customer data and identify commonalities among your most successful and profitable customers. This can include factors such as firmographics, industry, company size, technographics, pain points, and needs.

  2. Conduct market research: Conduct market research to gather additional data on your target audience, including their interests, challenges, and behaviors. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or the best of all, speaking to customers 1 by 1.

  3. Refine your ICP: Based on your analysis and research, refine your ICP to create a detailed description of your ideal customer. This should include information on their demographics, interests, challenges, behaviors, and other relevant factors.

  4. Use your ICP to guide your sales and marketing efforts: Use your ICP to inform your sales and marketing efforts, including your messaging, targeting, and lead generation strategies. By focusing on the customers that are the best fit for your business, you can optimize your efforts and increase your chances of success.

Example ICP: Stripe

Stripe is a payment processing platform for online businesses.

  • Industry: E-commerce, SaaS, digital goods and services, or any industry that processes online payments

  • Company size: Small to large businesses, including startups and enterprises

  • Job titles: CEOs, CFOs, E-commerce Managers, Product Managers, or Developers

  • Geographical location: Global, with a focus on countries where Stripe is supported

  • Technology stack: Companies with online platforms or mobile applications that require payment processing

  • Pain points: Complexities in setting up and managing online payments, international transactions, or subscription billing

Going from an ICP to a list of target accounts

Detailed guide: Building prioritised target account lists

To build an accurate target account list based on your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), follow these steps:

  1. Review your ICP criteria: Begin by examining each criterion in your ICP. For instance, if your ICP consists of industry, headcount, and technology used, you have three criteria to consider.

  2. Gather data for each criterion: For each criterion, collect relevant data. This could involve obtaining information on which companies belong to specific industries, company headcounts, and the technologies they utilize.

  3. Combine multiple data sources: The more criteria you have, the more accurate your account list becomes. You may need to evaluate multiple data vendors to gather all the necessary information. For example, you might use one vendor for industry and headcount data and another for technographics.

  4. Conduct manual research for specific criteria: Not all criteria can be collected automatically. For example, if your solution depends on a company undergoing a digital transformation initiative, you'll need your sales and marketing team to manually research this, or outsource the task to freelancers on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.

  5. Consolidate and refine your data: Merge the data from multiple sources and remove duplicates or outdated information. This process ensures that your target account list remains accurate and relevant.

  6. Prioritize accounts based on ICP fit: Rank the accounts based on how closely they align with your ICP criteria. Focus your sales and marketing efforts on those with the highest likelihood of becoming valuable customers.

  7. Segment your target accounts: Group accounts into segments based on shared characteristics, such as industry or company size. This enables you to create tailored marketing campaigns and sales approaches for each segment.

  8. Collaborate with your sales and marketing teams: Share the target account list with your sales and marketing teams, and ensure they understand the ICP criteria. This alignment helps them craft effective messaging and strategies to engage these accounts. Most importantly, you need to build trust in your data.

  9. Monitor and optimize: Regularly review and update your target account list as your ICP evolves or as you gather new data. Continuously optimize your sales and marketing efforts based on the performance of each segment.

Going from Ideal Customer Profile to Target Personas

Now that you have your list of target accounts, you need to speak to the right people in those companies.

A target persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on real data and insights gathered from your customer base and market research.

It outlines the key characteristics, motivations, pain points, and preferences of a specific segment within your target audience.

The target persona is closely related to your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), but serves a different purpose. While the ICP focuses on defining the specific criteria that a company must meet to be considered an ideal prospect, a target persona is more human, exploring the behaviors, goals, and challenges of the individuals involved in the decision-making process.

Example Target Persona #1: Databricks

Target Persona: Data Science Manager

  • Job Title: Data Science Manager

  • Industry: Technology, Company Size: 200+ employees

  • Goals: Streamline data processing and analytics, improve collaboration among data scientists and engineers, and drive data-driven decision-making.

  • Pain Points: Difficulty managing large volumes of data, lack of efficient collaboration tools, and time-consuming data preparation.

  • Preferences: Seamless integration with existing tools and platforms, scalability, and comprehensive documentation and support.

Example Target Persona #2: Canva

Target Persona: Social Media Specialist

  • Job Title: Social Media Specialist

  • Industry: Marketing and Advertising, Company Size: 10-50 employees

  • Goals: Create visually appealing content for social media, streamline graphic design processes, and increase brand visibility.

  • Pain Points: Limited design skills, time constraints, and finding cost-effective design solutions.

  • Preferences: User-friendly design tools, customizable templates, and affordable pricing options.

Example Target Persona #3: ServiceTitan

Target Persona: HVAC Business Owner

  • Job Title: Owner and Operator

  • Industry: HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), Company Size: 20-100 employees

  • Goals: Streamline business operations, improve customer service, and increase revenue.

  • Pain Points: Inefficient scheduling and dispatching, lack of real-time performance tracking, and difficulty managing customer data.

  • Preferences: All-in-one software solution, mobile accessibility, and reliable customer support.

These target personas can help Databricks, Canva, and ServiceTitan tailor their marketing and sales efforts to better address the needs, preferences, and pain points of their ideal customers.

Key takeaways

  1. Defining your target audience and ideal customer profile (ICP) is crucial for optimizing your marketing and sales efforts and maximizing your resources.

  2. Analyzing your current customer base and conducting market research are essential steps in creating an ICP, which includes a detailed description of your ideal customer's demographics, interests, pain points, and behaviors.

  3. After creating an ICP, you can use it to create a target account list, prioritize accounts based on ICP fit, segment your target accounts, and create target personas to tailor your marketing and sales efforts to the specific needs, preferences, and pain points of your ideal customers.

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