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What’s an ICP and why do I need it?

An ICP is an Ideal Customer Profile. In marketing and sales strategy, we use this to describ a hypothetical representation of the perfect customer for a business's product or service.


Developing an ICP involves thorough analysis and understanding of the target market to identify key characteristics, demographics, behaviours, and needs of your ideal customer.


Pro content marketers will suggest focusing on the needs, emotions, hopes, and hates, over demographics, however.


For example, does Write Wiser speak to:

Executives in Anglo-speaking managers in marketing roles who have 2.5 children, a dog, canary, and a back garden?

Or does Write Wiser speak to:

People who want to build authority and brand with gentle marketing, without selling their soul, and nurture lasting client relationships?


Below is the logic of marketing to emotions, needs, hopes, and hates, over demographics, but click here if you want to skip to how to develop your ICP.


A marketing writer wearing a white jumper types on a wooden finish keyboard, at a standing desk.

Why ICPs should focus on needs, emotions, hopes, and hates, over demographics:

Here are 4 focuses that are more impactful when levered in content marketing, than demographics data:

  1. Needs: Identify the core needs and desires your customers have, whether it's convenience, self-improvement, or innovation and show how your product caters to them specifically

  2. Emotional drivers: Understanding the emotions that motivate your customers' actions, such as the desire for status, security, or belonging, will let you talk to them like a friend. Familiarity is a boon for sales targets!

  3. Hopes and aspirations: Explore the hopes, dreams, and aspirations your customers harbor, in order to position your product or service as a means to fulfil them.

  4. Hates or pain points: Address the pain points and dislikes your customers' experience, by offering solutions that alleviate their frustrations and improve their lives.

By centring the ICP around needs, emotions, hopes, and hates, you can create more engaging content and more compelling marketing strategies that truly connect with your target prospects.


Now, let’s look at the logistics of how you can develop an ICP for your business.


Four marketing writers sit at a wooden table with their laptops in front of them, talking about strategy.

How to develop your ICP in 7 steps:


Step-by-step, define your Ideal Customer Profile so you can speak to them in your marketing and sales materials, as well as after closing to keep them close.

  1. Map out current customers: Start by examining your existing customer base to identify patterns among your most satisfied and profitable clients.

  2. List the needs and pain points of current clients: Conduct surveys, interviews, or social media listening to understand the needs, challenges, and pain points of your customers.

  3. Assess their behavior: Client behavior including contracting habits, preferred communication channels, and interactions with your brand should guide your marketing efforts.

  4. Create customer personas: Based on the information gathered, create fictional representations of your ideal customers, including details such as job title, goals, challenges, and interests. You can even name them for memorability.

  5. Prioritise their characteristics: Determine which of the above characteristics are most important for you to serve clients well. Add those to your ICP's description.

  6. Refine and iterate: Continuously refine your ICP based on new data, feedback, and market changes.

  7. Align all your strategy: Use your ICP to inform decisions across your business like product development, marketing messaging, sales tactics, and customer service initiatives.

To that last point — the purpose of creating an ICP is to guide marketing and sales efforts more effectively. There’s no point defining the characteristics of the ideal customer, if you don’t tailor your messaging, product development, and sales strategies to resonate with this specific audience. This targeted approach will maximise marketing ROI by focusing you on the most promising leads and opportunities.


Now that you know how to carry out your own analysis, who is your ICP?

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