3 Reasons Not to Take ICPs For Granted


By Maria Geokezas, VP of Client Services at Heinz Marketing

As marketers, we all know the importance of a well-defined target audience. Why then, do ICPs get taken for granted? Check out the 3 reasons why.

Accurately defining your ICPs is one of the most important first steps in any business strategy. However, many organizations spend too much time defining their ICPs in ways that don’t help to move the needle. We call this phenomenon the “Lazy ICP”. It happens without taking a look at the buyer personas and the entire buying cycle to help identify qualities and quantifiers of a great customer.

Before we dive into the impact of a Lazy ICP…

What specifically is an Ideal Customer Profile?

An Ideal Customer Profile is defined ”as the type of company that would benefit the most from your product or service. Companies that fit your ICP are most likely to buy and continue to use your product, making them extremely important for business growth.” This can take the form of a fictitious company profile that has all of the characteristics that make them your best customer.

Why are they important?

We prioritize these companies because they tend to have the quickest, most successful sales cycle, the greatest customer retention rates and the highest number of evangelists for your brand. These companies are the ones that could use your product or service best.

Instead of casting a wide net and telling everyone that your product or service would suit their needs, it’s much more efficient to do the work from the start and identify your ICPs on your own.

How Lazy ICPs happen

No one intends to create a bad ICP. Many times, ICPs fall short because marketing leadership prioritizes action over strategy and planning. These same marketers who are responsible for launching campaigns to meet demand generation goals are also responsible for ICP development. Unfortunately, the actions involved in driving demand take priority even though the ICP development is the most impactful step of any marketing effort. Marketers struggle to work on their ideal customer profiles for fear that they won’t hit deadlines.

That’s where an AI-generated ideal customer profiling tool can help.  Because it is machine generated, marketers can “automatically” uncover their best target accounts to include in their campaigns and prospecting.  They think, “oh I can skip the ICP definition because this tool found the right prospects for me.” Nothing can be further from the truth.  You still need to do the work necessary to articulate why the machine chose these target accounts.  Without this human interpretation of the machine-generated target account list, execution of campaign materials is muddied. And what prospects receive is unclear and unmotivating.

What most don’t realize is that all the execution work needed to launch a campaign – the messaging, offer development, content development, email, ad and website copy — can be done much more effectively and efficiently if there’s agreement and consistency in the way ICPs are understood and used.

When ICPs aren’t a priority, they become too generic to effectively identify true target accounts. Or, marketers end up with a machine-generated target account list and don’t understand why these accounts have been identified as target accounts.

3 Reasons why ICPs Matter

  1. Delayed campaigns and missed deadlines.

    Generic ICPs create a cycle of multiple reviews, rewrites and edits, delaying campaign launches. Because there isn’t enough specific detail around the ideal customer profile, marketing writers and reviewers take greater latitude to create interesting copy in hopes it will capture attention and convert to interest and engagement. The real struggle with generic ICPs is a lack of clarity around who specifically you’re targeting and what type of company could use your product or service best.

  1. Poor Performance.

    We all know generic marketing doesn’t perform well so you end up spending your time rationalizing the bad performance and trying not to lose the rest of your marketing budget. Vague offers and content don’t motivate leads to visit your website, reducing site visits which impacts lead generation. What business person is going to spend their time filling out your form if the messaging and offer isn’t relevant. If you could demonstrate your relevancy to your prospects by uncovering your true ICPs and creating real content and pitches that target them specifically, your organization has a great chance of driving more revenue.

  1. Unhappy customers and dissatisfied employees.

When the ICP is not intentionally defined, in human-relatable terms, there’s no clear understanding of the ideal customer. Without a clearly defined and trained ICP marketing, sales and success teams are out of whack.  Each will have a different idea for how the product addresses these pain points, or how the customer uses and benefits from the product. This leads to customer confusion because they were sold something that may not address their issues.  Which leads to increased calls and complaints to customer support and eventually increases customer churn.  As more and more customers churn, employee morale erodes.

Developing your ICP really embodies the phrase of “work smarter, not harder.” When you take the time to effectively develop a unique and useful ICP, your campaigns become tailored, prospects start to take notice, engagement metrics start to improve and your sales goals become much more attainable.

Rather than spending your time managing tedious tasks, you can focus more on the bigger picture.

The impact of a well-executed ICP could be the difference between making your revenue goals and exceeding your goals this year.

Do you feel a little stuck in developing your ICP? If so, where?