Why Develop Ideal Customer Profile's Before You Start Selling & Marketing?

Learn the secret to marketing and sales, understanding your customers. Ideal Customer Profiles are the tool to do this.

Kyle Ferguson
May 21, 2023
2 min

Startups are exciting because it opens up a whole new world of opportunity. If you develop a good product, there are likely many use cases and types of customers.

The problem is that you can't sell to everyone at once. Try to sell to everyone, and you will end up selling to no one.

In theory, everyone should want to use your product if it will provide them value. But in real life, sometimes even the people with the most significant need for your product or service are the least receptive to your product.

For example, with our business providing sales talent to startups, we thought tech founders would need our service the most since they have the least sales talent on their team.

And every product needs selling.

It turns out that they have been the hardest to sell to, thanks to a psychological phenomenon called the Dunning-Krueger effect, they don't even know they have a problem.

We will eventually sell to them, but for now, we are focusing our efforts on where there is less resistance and more understanding of what we offer.

You can identify many traits to determine a good fit for your products & services, such as company size, industry, age, news, etc. An ideal customer profile describes the company that is a good fit for your product or service.

If you develop your ideal customer profile (ICP) before you start selling & marketing, you can avoid wasting money selling & marketing to the wrong people.

As a startup, you have a wide-open market, and the best thing you can do is go for the low-hanging fruit.

For example, someone with a raincoat but no rain boots could be the perfect long-hanging fruit for a rain boot company.

The person with a rain coast understands they have a challenge. They have already started solving for the problem but have yet to solve it completely.

They will be easier to convert than someone who has never bought rain equipment because that person might not have a problem or doesn't know they have a problem that needs solving.

You don't have to spend weeks developing your ICP. A few good brainstorming sessions will provide you with a good start. Your ideal customer profile will grow over time and be used to guide product, marketing, sales, and your entire team.

Your ICPs can list the traits, general insights, and pain points of those companies you are selling & marketing to. By zoning in on your ideal customer, you can find and sell them efficiently and effectively.

Ask yourself who is most likely to adopt your product. Balance this by asking, who will produce the most revenue, the quickest?

How do they speak?

Where do they hang out?

What data points can we find online indicating ideal customers?

Look at your past customers, research, and make intelligent assumptions to develop an ideal customer profile.

Document this and share it with your whole team.

The more you understand your ideal customers, the easier it will be to develop a product they want to use, market to them with the language they want to hear, sell to them, understand their pain points, produce valuable content and dominate your niche.

But don't waste too much time pondering and planning; it's time to execute! Get out there and test your theories.

Understanding Your Market

The success of any startup relies heavily on understanding the market it operates in and identifying the ideal customers within that market. Understanding your customer and becoming a subject matter expert is key, especially at the formidable stages.

By having insight into potential customers, you know what problems you should be solving with your product and how to communicate in a way that appeals to them.

The market is the broader industry that you serve. The ideal customer dives deeper into who your product is the best fit to serve. It's a way to segment your customers.

You might not know who your product best serves yet, and that is okay, but it's important to hypothesize and test who is.

Make some assumptions about what would make a customer a good fit for your product and test those assumptions otherwise, use your current customer base and data to guide you.

Here are some of the key steps to understanding your market and identifying your ideal customers:

Understanding Your Market

1. Research industry trends and news: Stay updated on current and emerging trends in your industry. Search Google news, read articles and follow the right people on social media to gain insights into customer preferences and potential opportunities.

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