How to create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for ABM | Punch! ABM

How to Create Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for ABM

Let’s get started with a statement that I want you to bear in mind as you read the rest of this blog; understanding who your IDEAL customers are and what THEY care about is the cornerstone to ensuring your business is adding value! This in turn builds positive business relationships that drive revenue, retention, and advocacy!

A match made in heaven

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a detailed description of a prospective client that would benefit greatly from your product or service, and in turn, generate significant business value with you in exchange. A match made in heaven.

There is no strict ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to what information YOU need to build YOUR ICP, but there are some common factors that will help you take the first step!

At a top level, the process will involve taking a look at your total addressable market and starting to filter by demographic and firmographic characteristics. These are the basics that can help determine accounts that are a good FIT for you; we will break this down in more detail when it comes to creating your ICP… so keep reading!

But let’s first look into why creating a detailed ICP is one of the very first steps to take when you’re doing Account-Based Marketing (ABM)!

Ideal customer profiles and Account-Based Marketing! Name a better duo, I’ll wait…

Any ABM practitioner worth their weight will stress that taking the time to develop a strategy before diving into a campaign is absolutely crucial! Creating an ICP is a large part of that strategic set up and is utilised in the IDENTIFY stage of a campaign; that looks to segment your total addressable market into a select number of most relevant target accounts.

Creating an ICP means a shift in approach for your business, a commitment to being customer centric and understanding what value means to your customers, and then delivering on it. This is the fundamental lifeblood of ABM. If you’re running multiple campaigns, and targeting more than one vertical, industry, or buyer persona, chances are you will need several ICP(s).

Having a customer centric approach leads to greater coverage and insights into each account, which leads to deeper knowledge of customer patterns over time, which in turn leads to a revised and more specific ICP; the more specific the better, but it needs to be flexible to changes within your environment and the evolving needs of your customers. Once you start working from an ICP, don’t be afraid to change and fine tune your ICP based on what is proving most successful. It is and should remain a constant work in progress, as your customers and your market are always moving forward.

The end result is you are poised to give your future and current customers as much value as possible, which is what enables ABM to deliver great results when it comes to nurturing and expanding your current customers, and creating advocacy; the most effective and meaningful form of marketing.

People don’t buy from you because they understand what you do, they buy from you because you understand what they do.

The pieces of your Ideal Customer Puzzle

To define your ideal customer profile (ICP) you need to analyse which of your customers have proved both to be profitable for your business and successful with your product or service. This is a crucial step to creating the best ICP possible. In order for you to do this really effectively, you will need input from each of your sales, marketing and customer success teams. For bonus points, information from Accounts or Finance can be extremely helpful.

Your first assignment is to create a top ten list of customer accounts in each of the following categories:

1. Highest Spend/Profitability (ACCOUNTS)

2. Most Satisfied/Successful (CUSTOMER SUCCESS)

3. Best to Sell To (SALES and MARKETING)

4. Longest Client Lifespan (ACCOUNTS/CUSTOMER SUCCESS)

Decide on a defined period of time for the first 3 categories – I recommend you take the last 12 months to get started with. Category 4 however, should obviously cover all time.

Against each of the accounts note the following firmographic information, this input will be the basis of what your ICP looks like.

Industry

Unless your product is exclusively designed for one specific industry, it is extremely helpful to know which industries are most involved with your product. In terms of ICP it’s a no brainer, your ideal customers will be in the most active markets. This also serves as a good chance to be self-aware about new markets that could be developed into new customer bases, you have the data so you may as well be using it!

Employee Headcount

What size companies are your product or service most popular with? Be realistic, if there is an upper limit to the size of company you are able to add value too then they are not your ideal customer! At the same time, if companies of a certain size are too small to benefit from what you’re offering, again, they are not your ideal customer! Developing an ICP means finding the sweet spot and expanding on those future customers, which is why it is so effective when doing ABM.

Annual Revenue

Use your data to determine what the annual revenue is of the companies you’re getting the best results with is, at the end of the day you are putting significantly more effort into being more valuable for your customers, the end goal being increasing revenue in return! So focus in on what an ideal revenue looks like.

Location (Geographic)

It should come as no surprise that you need to know where your customers are based! Where are you able to effectively do business? Take the time to develop a map of where your customers are established, including potential branches and franchises in other regions or countries. You may find that ICP requirements differ from region to region, taking into consideration cultural changes and state of economy.

Other information

  • Technology they use
  • Level of technology maturity
  • Number of Employees in a particular department
  • Size of customer base

Once you have your list of customer accounts compiled with the above information for each of the 4 categories, check out which of your clients are falling into all of them. Spoiler alert, these are the most Ideal customers that you are currently doing business with.

It is also worth checking which clients fall within 3 of the 4 categories, but we suggest that category 1 (how much money you are making) is mandatory as best practice!

Look for common threads between these companies and from this you will now be able to define the characteristics that make up your Ideal Customer Profile.

The Middle Pieces: STEM Filtering

So you’ve looked at your total addressable market and filtered out the best FIT companies using the above characteristics, but we’re doing ABM so we want to focus on the crème de la crème!

STEM breaks down to ‘Strategic’, ‘Target’, ‘Enterprise’, and ‘Mid-Market’, it’s a way of segmenting your best fit accounts based on potential value of business; so that you can then scale your campaign resources to reflect the end goal, revenue.

Think of STEM as a method of allocating the appropriate amount of resources needed for your FIT accounts, which will be instrumental when planning which of them to target for your campaign!

The Final Piece: Intent Data

Sales Cycle

Intent Data, the word on everyone’s lips, the enabler for new generation marketing… ABM is built on the fact that we CAN gather more insights about our future and current customers using data!

Intent data is all about understanding where your customers are on their buying journey; and then opening conversations at the point in time that is most relevant, with the conversation that is going to be most valuable!

Marketing utilises STEM segmentation and intent data to transform your total addressable market into a small selection of ideal accounts. So discover your ICP, and then use STEM and Intent Data to develop your target accounts for each campaign!

When we are all in, we all win

Other departments will benefit from your ICP, for example new product features and development should take into consideration what an ideal customer is interested in. Customer success also need to know what kind of content and support is needed and most effective for each and every ICP.

You will need to have regular conversations between aligned departments to make sure that your ICP is updated as and when your customers or environment change, to make sure that it remains as relevant as possible.

Not being sure isn’t ideal!

Here at Punch! we have created a template that you can use to guide your efforts of finding your ICP, download from the image below and take the first step towards being customer centric. You won’t regret it!

If you have any questions or thoughts around ICP, please feel free to email us over at hello@punchabm.com or comment below and we will get back to you!

THREE TYPES OF ABM.
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

One-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, programmatic, lite…it’s understandable why account-based marketing can seem daunting at first! But regardless of the ABM terminology being used, the basic principles are the same. Putting more resources into fewer target accounts who are more likely to convert, and provide a greater ROI. Which kind of ABM approach you should adopt depends on a number of factors. In this blog you’ll find out what the 3 types of ABM are, and which is right for your business.

the three types of ABM

So you’ve decided that adopting an ABM strategy is right for your business and that’s definitely a wise choice.

 

It’s understandable that you might have some concerns, running an ABM programme requires a shift of mind-set. It takes sizeable marketing ‘balls’ to shift resources from more typical marketing strategies to account-based marketing.

 

But that’s exactly what organisations are doing – the number of companies with an advanced ABM programme doubled from 2017 to 2018. And why?

 

Simple – because in a recent study, 97% of marketers reported a higher ROI from ABM than other marketing campaigns. Any successful ABM campaign is one that balances these three measures –

 

  • The likelihood of a given target account buying
  • The resources required to acquire them as a customer
  • The potential ROI to your business if they convert

The differences between the 3 types of ABM are driven by a need to align these factors, so let’s look at exactly what each approach involves and what factors should inform your ABM strategy.

One-to-one ABM

The original and probably best known of the 3 types of ABM, and the approach you’re most likely already familiar with.

One-to-one ABM is a strategic approach that treats your most valuable target accounts as their own individual markets. This means engaging with each of them in a specific and bespoke way.

 

A typical one-to-one campaign would involve targeting 5-10 key target accounts, the ones whose business would make your year or even change the direction of your company.

The resources required to engage with each account in a one-to-one ABM campaign are significant. With that in mind, it’s vital that you have deep insight into how likely the target account is to buy. Intent data is a great way to choose your target accounts based on whether they’re starting a buying journey.

 

By focusing on 10 accounts that you know are likely to buy, you can allocate more resources to engaging with each, knowing that they are more likely to convert and provide you with a great ROI.

You should consider one-to-one ABM as your strategy of choice if –

 

  • You can research the accounts in detail and gather detailed insights on how likely they are to buy
  • Your products and solutions are high-value and high-consideration
  • You’re selling into a mature or even saturated market
  • Your opportunity to close rate is high
  • You have clear and genuine points of differentiation from your competitors
  • Each account has a large number of key stakeholders from whom you need buy-in
  • You have the resources available to create content bespoke to each account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account

One-to-few ABM

One-to-few ABM, or ABM Lite as it’s also known, is a way of using the one-to-one ABM principles and applying them at scale to a greater number of target accounts.

For example, you might be dedicating 40 days per month to your top 5 accounts in a one-to-one strategy.

 

If you then wanted to reach out to your top 30 accounts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to scale up the same approach unless you have 240 days worth of resources available to do this. So what’s the answer?

 

Your best strategy would be to focus on small groups of target accounts, rather than individual accounts. These groups can then be treated as their own individual markets, in the same way as individual accounts were with one-to-one ABM.

 

The most common way to organise accounts into groups of 5-10 is by sub-sector. If you’re targeting the retail sector, your sub-sectors might be fashion, groceries, DIY and homeware.

You can then build specific content that will resonate with that sub-sector, identifying trends and solving their challenges.

Consider one-to-few ABM as your strategy of choice if –

 

  • You have a small addressable market of target accounts
  • You’re selling high-value, high consideration solutions or products
  • You have to get buy-in from 3-4 key stakeholders at each account
  • You’re able to gather insights into the challenges facing each target sector
  • You have the resources available to create sector specific content
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your product or solution has clear points of differentiation from its competition

One-to-many ABM

One-to-many ABM takes the ABM approach and scales it so the principles can be applied to a larger number of target accounts.

 

How many? That’s up to you, as there are no hard and fast rules as to where one-to-few ends and where one-to-many begins.

 

Similarly, you might be wondering where to draw the line between one-to-many ABM and just ‘marketing’? Well you’re not alone, there’s not a clear agreement even among leading practitioners of ABM.

 

It depends on the lifetime value of those accounts to your business, the greater the value, the fewer you should go for.

 

The average number of accounts for a one-to many campaign according to the ITSMA sits at around 100. However you may choose to go for more than this and dedicate fewer resources to each, or use an approach closer to the one-to-few model, and dedicate more resources to engaging with each account.

You should consider one-to-many ABM as a strategy if –

 

  • You want to increase brand awareness whilst also creating engagement at key accounts
  • Your solution is new to market, or the market need educating on its potential
  • There is one or a couple of key stakeholders at each target account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your pipeline to close rate is low and could be improved
  • You don’t have access to information on which accounts are starting a buying journey
  • You need some accounts to convert more quickly in order to see ROI sooner

FIVE TIPS FOR ACCOUNT SELECTION

In these times of uncertainty, making the most out of your marketing budget is more important than ever. In Account-Based Marketing you reduce the number of accounts you target significantly and then increase the amount of resources you spend on them. This makes the actual account selection process very important because you can’t afford for an account that receives significant resource to just fall by the wayside. So with that in mind, here a five tips for best practice account selection.

Have you thought about targeting different industries?

People are getting scared and more cautious about taking meetings and calls. So, who is engaging?

 

Some industries are booming at the moment such as:

 

  • Video conferencing technology
  • Project management tools
  • E-learning
  • Ecommerce
  • Gaming

With an influx in demand, they might just be looking for your solution. But for industries heavily effected, you need to rethink your GTM strategy to be as humane as possible; if your solution is something that would be deemed essential to these businesses – keep helping. If it’s more of a luxury, consider targeting different industries where an influx of demand means they might be on the lookout for your solution.

Sales and Marketing, Name a Better Duo

We always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but it comes into play with regards to account selection as well. A common mistake is allowing one department to select all of the target accounts for a campaign.

 

If the sales team are solely responsible then you run the risk of them giving you all of the ‘problem’ accounts that they have yet to achieve any traction with. As Jamie Hardin, Senior Marketing Manager of ON24 explains “ABM should be viewed as augmenting the current strategy, not a ‘Hail Mary’ initiative on an inactive account.” Similarly, it would be foolish for marketing to be solely responsible without using the information that sales already have on the accounts that they’ve been engaging with.

This could be information on which accounts are reaching a contract renewal date, previous positive conversations with the clients, or even contacts that could have used your services in a previous role at another company.

By combining the information marketing has alongside insights from sales, your account selection can lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

Are you intent on this?

Utilising intent data is the best way to select accounts. This helps you understand which companies are in a buying window based on the websites they’re visiting and the content they’re consuming. However, platforms such as Bombora and Nexus aren’t at everyone’s disposal, which is why a combination of the above tactics gives the next best chance of selecting accounts that are most likely to convert.

 

Account selection is perhaps the biggest factor in the success of an Account-Based Marketing campaign. Good accounts, that fit your ICP and are showing intent are bound to be successful, whereas accounts that aren’t selected on insight and reasoning are likely to fail. There’s never a sure fire way to pick accounts that are destined to convert, but by following these tips you’ll have a solid foundation for your ABM programme.

Do it early!

One of the most consistent mistakes we come across with account selection is doing it too late in the ABM journey. After first defining your ideal customer profile or ICP (link to other blog) and selecting your sector, you should be looking to choose your accounts. Prioritising selection early on in the process will give you ample time to gather insight into them, allowing you to really personalise your message that will resonate with the target DMU.

Make Sure They Fit Your ICP

Using an ICP to frame your account selection ensures that your target accounts are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It also ensures that you don’t fall for those ‘dream’ accounts that you may have put on the list because you want the logo on your website, or you’ve always dreamed of working with. If they aren’t right for the programme, you shouldn’t be targeting them. It’s not about if you want them, as much as it’s about if they want you.

So, you’re thinking about adopting Account-Based Marketing…

Fantastic! But there are three different types of ABM; one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. So, which one is right for you? Luckily, we have a handy little calculator that will tell you exactly that.