In age big data and analytics, business success is now measured in the data you have that your competitors does not. For a startup in the B2B market, that means there’s a reasonably steep hill to climb right from first. Here is just a startup guide to creating an ideal customer profile.
There’s no way a startup can acquire the same volume of data that well-versed competitors have collected.
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Instead, they need to prioritize which kinds of data will be the best to them as they begin operating, for them to take the most important advantage of what they do initially collect.
In almost every case, the data that’s most useful to a startup in its early days could be the information needed to build complete customer profiles. Building the data collection methodologies to do that requires some careful forethought and planning, though, and isn’t a job to be taken lightly. As helpful tips for early-stage startups, here’s an summary of how to create an ideal customer profile to use as a data collection roadmap, and how to collect the needed information to do it by utilizing your earliest customers as a guide.
What is just a Customer Profile?
To begin the method of building an ideal customer profile for the startup, it’s first necessary to know very well what the term means.
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This is critical since the concept of an ideal customer profile is usually confused with that of a customer persona. In reality, the two things are quite different.
An ideal customer profile is just a thorough outline of who your startup plans to sell its products to, and not the way you intend to do so. A customer persona, by contrast, offers the rich marketing data that’s used to craft messages that members of your marketplace will be receptive to. A customer persona is used to direct customer relationship efforts, like the kind that you might use for deepening patient connections in healthcare practice. In that example, an ideal customer profile instead defines who you would like to come through the doorway in the first place.
While the difference seems subtle at first, it’s easiest to comprehend it thusly: an ideal customer profile represents who you want your visitors to be, while an individual persona is just a representation of who they truly are.
The reason that’s important to understand is that it’s critical to know what data you need to collect on new customers to help you standardize that process through your organization. Without doing this, your sales, marketing, and product development teams might wind up directing their efforts toward serving different constituencies – and in the act, they’ll satisfy none of them.
Setting the Right Standards
When you begin the discussions together with your team to develop an ideal customer profile, you have to first recognize that the different areas of your organization might have competing visions of who you should be targeting. What’s most significant is to reach common ground and arrive at an individual definition every one can agree with. To that end, the best customer profile you end up with should meet with the following conditions:
- Clarity and Specificity – Your ideal customer profile must certanly be precise and easy for anybody to comprehend with no room for deviation.
- Data Connected – Since defining an ideal customer is an exercise in the hypothetical, it’s necessary to be sure that the profile you create can be connected to actual customer data you are with the capacity of collecting.
- Universal Application – When your ideal customer profile is put to use, it’ll need to involve data points that are common to all parts of your organization. That means it should be broadly compatible will all relevant business systems, from your CRM platform to your marketing automation systems and every thing in between.
Gathering Initial Data
To create an ideal customer profile, it’s of use to use whatever clients you have to show you.
Begin by pinpointing which existing customers are spending probably the most money on your own products, and refine the list by selecting the ones that you’ve had positive feedback from. That should provide you with some clarity about who’s getting the most value from your own products and leave you with a summary of customers which will be willing to help you with the next steps in the process.
With your initial list prepared, the next thing is to document some meaningful information about them. For each customer, jot down:
- Company size.
- Number of individual contacts within the company.
- Annual operating budget.
If you’re having any difficulty finding out the info you need, contact your customer and explain to them that you’re using them as an exemplory instance of your ideal customer. If they’re pleased with your services and products, they should be glad to allow you to, knowing that any information they share can help you to serve their needs even better later on.
In the conversations that you have, it’s also wise to try to find out whenever you can about why each customer is doing business with your firm. Find out:
- Who brought your company to their attention?
- What comments they’ve, if any, about their dealings together with your company?
- Who inside their company has got the final say on purchases?
- What they’re making use of your products for?
- How well your products meet their needs?
- What related business needs they’ve that your company doesn’t satisfy?
With all the relevant questions answered, the next thing is to compile all of the data and look for commonalities between your most useful customers. In almost every case, you should find some overlap in the info, but what you’re really looking for could be the least common denominator for every single data point. Once you’ve worked that out, you’re ready to create a picture of your ideal customer.
Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile
When you reach this point, creating an ideal customer profile is a simple matter of listing your conclusions on a single, easy-to-understand document.
In general, it will spell out in very specific terms:
- The industry your startup is targeting
- The geographic region where they’re located
- Their average budget
- The average business size
- The top three reasons customers use your product
- What specific needs your products meet
- The most frequent way prospective customers find your firm
- The average size of the decision-making chain (how lots of people are involved in each purchase)
- Why your ideal customer would choose you over the competition
How to Use Your Ideal Customer Profile
From this aspect on, your startup should orient its sales, marketing, and product development efforts to fulfill the ideal customer you have defined. From a data collection viewpoint, it should also be used as a template as to what information to collect from every potential consumer as you make contact with them. It also can guide your marketing research as you try to identify new leads.
Doing this will help you to target the actual types of clients that are likely to establish long-term relationships with your company. It also needs to set you on the road toward collecting usable customer data that may then grow into a powerful customer analytics operation. That can, consequently, help you to build these customer personas and feed your efforts at personalization.
It’s essential to remember, however, your ideal customer profile isn’t a static document. In fact, as your business grows, the profile of your ideal customer can change with it. That means you’re going to have to revisit this process at regular intervals to be sure that you’re still serving your most valuable customers’ needs. If it turns out that you’re perhaps not – make the changes that the info suggests, and it’s sure to pay back.