The Difference Between a Buyer Persona And an Ideal Customer Profile

Understanding the difference between Buyer Persona and Ideal Customer Profiles in B2B SaaS marketing becomes easier once you have a good understanding of each concept’s definition.

Sadly many companies overlook the difference in these concepts and then miss out on some strategies that can increase their chance of success.

A Buyer Persona is defined as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers” by HubSpot.

An Ideal Customer Profile finds the attributes of the companies that you might want as clients and may include factors such as industry, annual revenue, or location.

Both of these concepts include guidelines you can use to focus your B2B marketing strategy. A consensus between interested parties is that these two concepts overlap in various areas.
This article in particular will focus on the differences.

What is an Ideal Customer Profile?

An ideal customer profile (ICP), defines the perfect customer to fit the company’s services or product. It is a fictitious company with a profile of all the qualities that would make it the ideal customer for what you can provide.

It is the ideal tool to use for account-based marketing, directing your focus on targeted accounts which is a good fit for your company.
An ideal customer profile can define the problems you can provide a solution for and aligning your product or service with the ideal customer.

The profile can also assist in laying out your plans as far as updates and changes are concerned.

It will help you to identify who can buy from you and who can’t, thus saving the sales reps time and avoid unnecessary sales pitches to customers who cannot afford it.

The characteristics that will help you find the perfect fit includes:

  • Budget / Revenue / Company Size – defining the lowest cost threshold a customer would need for your product or service.
  • Industry – Finding and setting the verticals your company works with, and
    doesn’t work with.
  • Geography – Which regions do you sell in?
  • Legality – What are the legal limits and restrictions connected to your sales or products?
  • Product or Service Limitations – do you have agreements with your customers about a specific response time? If someone requires a shorter response time, can you provide it?

This list is a good starting point in identifying your ideal customer. You can use it to scan leads and see if they have the qualities to be able to buy from you. If they don’t, you disqualify them and save the sales team’s time and resources.

Ideal Customer Profiles are focused on finding accounts that align with your products or services and don’t spend time on the individuals you will encounter.

Once your ICP has identified the ideal accounts for your company, you can shift your focus to the individuals they may encounter. These will be the individuals who will be making the actual purchase.

Your Ideal Customer Profiles accounts are made up of individuals holding different offices and have different levels of knowledge and experience. To further define these, we will use individual buyer personas.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional, general projection of your customers based on their demographics, goals, motivation, and challenges.

Buyer personas provide a structural and contextual approach for your marketing team to map out and create content.

Sales and support teams can use the information to allocate time and resources.

A company needs to look at the different challenges of its workers and create a buyer persona according to those. Companies have anywhere between 2 and 5 different personas.

Examples of these personas are Manager Mary, Start-up Steph, and Tech Heavy Tom. It puts the focus on the everyday challenges individuals in the company face, rather than on job title personas.
Having buyer personas will help your team to adjust their strategies and how they communicate the solutions you offer.

Buyer personas are based on market research and real data about your existing customers according to HubSpot

To identify your buyer personas, you can speak to various people:
Your existing customers:

  • They are already buying and using your product or service. Naturally, they will be the best source of information. You can do this through surveys, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings.
  • Your customer-facing teams:
    The people in your company who interact most with your clients can give you insight into frequently asked questions, complaints, or compliments.
  • Your CRM:
    Use your information to understand and assess how leads are used and content created

After identifying buyer personas, you must share the information internally to ensure your various teams work as a unit for the best results. Effective communication will ensure the best use of both the Ideal Customer Profile as well as your Buyer Personas.

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