Knowing Who to Target

Whether you’re in the world of business-to-business, e-commerce, or nonprofit, you need to have to have a group of people in mind to market your product or service to. This is pretty much common sense across all industries, so I won’t get into the specifics of defining your market’s demographics, psychographics, or whatever you use to segment them, because you are most likely doing that already. However, wouldn’t it be nice to have an ideal customer in mind? Someone who, without a doubt, will buy your product or service (or whatever it is that you’re selling)?

Some of you reading this may already have your ideal customer in mind, and that’s great! You’re already one step closer to implementing an account-based approach within your organization. For those of you that don’t, fret not, as I can help you build one (the right way).

IC-What Now?

Your ICP (ideal customer profile) is the first part of hacking your way to successful growth. What is an ICP you ask? Well, it’s more or less a fictional person who will buy your product or service, or donate to your cause. Now, coming up with your ICP is easier said than done. Sure, I can sit there and think to myself, “Somewhere out there, there is a man named Billy who will buy my patented inflatable shoes. He’s 6’2” and 180lbs and-”, well I’ll just stop right there because that’s not how you define your ICP.

There’s 2 methods in defining your ICP, the manual way, which we will cover first, and the predictive way, which comes after. Before any of these methods though, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions that look at both your organization and successful accounts you’ve interacted with in the past. Some of these questions include:

Where have we sold most effectively in the past?

Which kinds of accounts have proven most pro table over time?

which sub-industries do we work with today?

What characteristics are most predictive of sales success?

What attributes make for the best fit with our product?

What traits should rule out an account?

What kind of accounts play best to our unique strengths?

Which accounts do we already have an advantage in?

What accounts deliver the most value (including strategic value)?

Source: “The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing”

 Editor’s Note: Yes, a lot of these are geared toward the B2B industry, however, they can still be applied to nonprofits as well. For example, “what attributes make for the best fit with our product?” can be altered to “what attributes make for the best fit for a donor?”.

 The order you answer these questions is entirely up to you, as are which you answer due to the data you currently have. However, it might be smart to put everything together to get the best understanding of your ICP.

Okay, Now What?

Now that you have your ICP, you have to find organizations that match (the closest) to it. This can be done one of two ways (or both if you have the time). The first is the manual way, where you have a team of marketers hand pick organizations that fit your ICP. Now this shouldn’t be too far off, as marketers usually know the market pretty well, but it could take time. Once this list is solidified, you can begin to score the accounts on a variety of criteria. These criteria can be anything from company size to their engagement. The rest is history. Once you have a set list with scores, go from the top down. Your high scoring tier will receive the most personalized content, with a little bit less as the tier decreases. Like I said, this is a tedious process and could take some time, which is why there is predictive analytics.

The predictive method uses technology, and where there is technology, there is efficiency. By imputing data into a predictive analytics tool, you will instantly be given a list of organizations most likely to buy or donate. It’s as simple as that. Don’t believe me? Think of it this way, when you’re browsing Hulu or Netflix and the system just happens to know what movie you’d want to watch next, that’s predictive. In their case, it’s mostly monitoring the ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ you place on videos you’ve already watched. In your case, the system combs the internet instantly finding any and all information that points to them being your best-case scenario for a potential customer.


Now that you have a broad understanding of the ICP and the steps following, I can answer some questions you may have. Some of you are probably thinking, “Okay, this predictive tool gave me 15,000 different companies to choose from, did I do something wrong?” Well, there may be two answers to that question. First, the more obvious answer, you might have. Make sure all of your inputs are correct and precise, one wrong piece of information could give you all sorts of wonky results. Second, maybe not. See, it depends on the size of your organization and the market you’re going after. If it’s a broader market, of course you’ll get more results. More niche? You’ll get a shorter list. It’s recommended that you look at a variety of factors, such as:

Your expected deal sizes

The length of the sales cycle

Your available sales resources

Your current level of engagement with major prospects

Source: “The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing”

When you take these into consideration, you’ll have a much more accurate list.

Another question you might have is why your efforts aren’t working for, what appears to be, your number one potential account. The answer to that is simply patience. You might not land your dream account right away, you have to nurture them until they’re ready to buy or donate. Just take your time, take things slow, and encourage your sales team to keep trying.

The End? No.

You have your ICP, and the information on what to do with it. So that’s the end right? No. Now you have to determine the best people to reach within an ICP, engage with them, move them through the funnel, and then convert them. Seems like a lot? Good, because it is. Nevertheless, it is certainly doable and will pay off. Stick around for the next part of Growth Hacking.