How to create effective Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles

How to create effective Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles

Sissy Scheible
Sissy Scheible
published on November 8, 2023   

Buyer Persona and Ideal Customer Profile - The most important facts in brief:

  • The term Buyer Persona describes a typical representative of your target group. It is a fictitious person who describes a potential buyer in detail.

  • The perfect Buyer Personas are always based on data. This data can be based on sales statistics, market and target group analyses, among other things.

  • An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) describes the characteristics of a fictitious company that would benefit most from your offer and would be most likely to buy, use and recommend it.

  • The more detailed your ICP is, the higher quality the leads will be. To develop a detailed ICP, you need to analyze your existing customers.

  • In B2B, it makes sense to combine ICPs and Buyer Personas.

Men between the ages of 30 and 50 who are interested in cars… This could be a target audience for car care products. However, for targeted customer engagement, such target groups are often too vague. To present your customers with relevant content, you should use Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles. We will explain how to do it.

Buyer Persona and Ideal Customer Profile: What’s the difference?

Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles are often lumped together by many companies. In fact, these two concepts are closely related, but there are significant differences.

Buyer Persona

Buyer Personas are important tools for marketing and sales, both in B2B and B2C. They help to address customers more specifically and offer them more relevant content and products optimized for them.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal customer. Is it a man or a woman? What is your customer’s name? What profession does he or she have? Does the person live in the city or in the countryside? How old is your customer, and what interests does he or she have? Why might he or she be interested in your product? What problem could the customer have that your product could solve for him?

Do you now have a customer in mind? Congratulations, because this customer is one of several possible Buyer Personas for your product or company.

Two different Buyer Personas in B2B

Buyer Personas are not only a helpful tool in B2C. In B2B, you should also consider who you want to target with your marketing and sales strategy.

The term Buyer Persona describes a typical representative of your target audience. It is a fictional person meant to provide a detailed description of a potential buyer. Typically, the Buyer Persona is based on data from real customers or market research results. However, even new companies that do not yet have access to such data can create Buyer Personas.

Why do you need Buyer Personas?

With the help of Buyer Personas, you can target your customers more effectively than with just a generic target audience. For example, if your target audience is “Women aged 20-50 in Germany,” this category includes both 20-year-old students and 40-year-old mothers. It’s obvious that both have very different interests and daily routines and may not respond to the same advertisements. Buyer Personas help you create additional customer segmentations and buyer groups.

Other reasons for creating Buyer Personas include:

  • Content Strategy: Thanks to Buyer Personas, you can identify the right content along the customer journey and develop appropriate content.
  • Product Management: You can use Buyer Personas to tailor your product to the wishes and needs of your customers.
  • Identifying barriers to purchase: Thanks to Buyer Personas, you can better understand the potential obstacles your customers may face when purchasing the product. For example, if your ideal customer only shops online, but you only sell your products in physical stores, consider opening an online store. Or if you sell only online but your customer prefers in-person advice, add options like chats or explanatory videos.
  • SEO and SEA: What search terms or combinations would your Buyer Persona use to search for your product? Align your website, online shop, and ads accordingly.
  • Building customer relationships: The more personally you address your customers and the more relevant the content you share with them, the better you can build a relationship with your customers and keep them loyal to your company in the long term.
  • Email Marketing: If you have divided your customers into different buyer groups thanks to Buyer Personas, you can tailor your email marketing to them. For example, if you have a company that sells household electronics and know that one group of customers only wants traditional vacuum cleaners and the other group wants robot vacuum cleaners or smart home-connected products, you can send each group newsletters, offers and the like that are relevant to them.

How to Create Buyer Personas

Although Buyer Personas are largely based on your considerations, you should typically not just invent them. The perfect Buyer Personas are always based on data. These data can be derived from sales statistics, market and target audience analyses, interviews, and surveys. In the B2B sector, networks like Xing and LinkedIn are very helpful for learning more about your business customers.

Key questions for creating your Buyer Personas in B2B and B2C are:

  • Demographic data: How old is the Buyer Persona? What is their gender? What level of education do they have? What is their profession? What is their income level? What is their marital status?
  • Interests: What hobbies and interests does your ideal customer have? What does their typical daily routine look like? Do they have favorite brands and products? What is important to them?
  • Character, behavior, and values: What motivations does your Buyer Persona have? What values and beliefs do they stand for? What is their buying behavior (e.g., do they buy only organic products? Do they value certifications and positive reviews? Are they prone to impulse buying? etc.)? What media does your Buyer Persona use?
  • Challenges and problems: What challenges does your ideal customer face? What troubles them? What hinders them in their daily life?
  • Desires and goals: Does your Buyer Persona have wishes or specific life goals? What can they get excited about? What do they want to achieve with the purchase of your product or service? What does the Buyer Persona wish for from your product as a solution to their problem?

For B2B Buyer Personas, additional questions come into play, such as:

  • What position does the Buyer Persona hold in the company?
  • How do the decision-making processes of the Buyer Persona and the company work?
  • How can the Buyer Persona be reached effectively?
  • What company values does the Buyer Persona represent?

It’s important in both B2B and B2C that once you have created your Buyer Personas, you regularly update them. Are the personas still relevant to you? Have events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or current wars, changed the person’s attitudes? How do new market players influence the buying behavior of the Buyer Persona?

How many Buyer Personas are necessary?

In creating Buyer Personas, you can easily become overwhelmed. There could be countless variations of ideal customers for your company and product. However, this does not mean that you need to create an infinite number of Buyer Personas. Typically, the rule is the fewer, the better.

For smaller businesses, three personas are entirely sufficient. If you have a broader product range or even different product lines, up to eight personas are recommended.

It’s better to target fewer personas specifically than to try to reach too many personas. Always consider that Buyer Personas not only need to be created but also maintained and updated, and addressing each one requires a significant amount of time and resources.

Ideal Customer Profile

As mentioned earlier, Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles have similarities but are not the same. The most significant difference is that while Buyer Personas are always individuals, Ideal Customer Profiles are always focused on companies. Ideal Customer Profiles are primarily of interest in the B2B sector.

How to create effective Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles
Acquiring New Customers: 10 Tips for the Success of Your Customer Acquisition in B2B

What is an Ideal Customer Profile?

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) describes the characteristics of a fictional company that would benefit the most from your offering and is highly likely to purchase, use, and recommend it.

Just like Buyer Personas, ICPs are idealized target customers. The closer a company aligns with the profile you have imagined, the more attention you should give to it within your marketing and sales strategy.

The basis for ICPs typically comes from existing customers.

Reasons for Creating Ideal Customer Profiles:

  • More effective lead generation: Once you’ve created an Ideal Customer Profile, you can focus your efforts on potential customers who match this profile. This results in higher-quality leads, leading to higher conversion rates and a greater Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Increased customer engagement: Thanks to ICPs, you have a better understanding of the needs, problems, and preferences of your ideal customers. This allows you to adapt your marketing strategy to better resonate with your target audience. Your marketing becomes more personalized and, most importantly, more relevant to your customers, leading to higher customer engagement.
  • Improved product development: By understanding your ideal customer, you can tailor your product development to their wishes, challenges, and problems. This allows you to develop offers and products that are precisely tailored to your customers’ needs.

How to create ideal customer profiles

When creating ICPs, it’s crucial to base them on data rather than assumptions.

The more detailed your ICP, the higher the quality of leads it will generate. To create a detailed ICP, you need to analyze your existing customers.

  1. Identify the most profitable customers: Determine which companies you’ve conducted the most business with and generated the highest revenue from. Create a list of your best customers and enrich it with data from your CRM system.
  2. Analyze customers: Analyze the customers on the created list for commonalities and patterns. Ask questions such as: What industries are the customers from? How many employees do the companies have? What region are they in? Are they private companies? Are they primarily startups or well-established businesses? Analyze why the companies became your customers and what keeps them with you. You can also directly survey your customers for this information.
  3. Create the basics of your ICP: Based on your analyses, you can now create a list of the most important information for your Ideal Customer Profile. You should definitely specify the following points for your ICP: industry, location, company size, structure and legal form, details about the company’s products or services, and financial metrics. Enhance this list with more detailed information, such as the company’s needs, problems, and desires.
  4. Your company’s Unique Selling Point (USP): Define the Unique Selling Point (USP) that your company offers to your ICP. This allows you to show your customers how your product solves their most pressing problems and meets their requirements.
  5. Customer feedback and updates: Incorporate customer feedback into your ICPs and keep them up-to-date. This is the only way to retain customers in the long term.
Ideal Customer Profile

For our recruitment automation tool jobfire, this company would be the ideal customer.

How many ICPs make sense?

If your company is a startup or relatively small, you should start with just one Ideal Customer Profile. Established companies can create multiple ICPs. However, be mindful that as the number of ICPs increases, the effort for your marketing and sales also grows.

For even more success: Combining Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles

Ideally, in the B2B sector, you should not only create Buyer Personas or ICPs but combine both. Start by creating the Ideal Customer Profile. Then, think about which employees within the fictional company you would target to promote your product to. Proceed in the same way as described in the “Buyer Persona” section, ensuring that the Buyer Personas of your ICP have the necessary positions in the company to make decisions about collaborating with you or at least be part of the decision-making process.

In the B2C sector, you may not need an ICP, but you should definitely not skip the creation of Buyer Personas. This is the only way to build an efficient marketing and suitable sales strategy.