Our e-book, "Get Sales and Marketing Traction with Inbound", outlines key steps to building the best marketing strategy for your company’s unique goals. Now we’re kicking off a series right here on our blog to guide you through each step in greater detail—using the Whole Brain approach! With our Right Brain, we’ll tune you in to the freshest, most creative ideas in marketing. With our ever-practical Left Brain, we’ll whip out the bullet points and offer you some hands-on tools to build and refine your marketing strategies for a new year.
Read on for part one of the four-part series:
Start at the Source: Your Ideal Customer
Where to begin, you ask? With your customers, of course! Understanding them will ensure that your marketing strategy truly resonates with their needs. The start of a new year is a great time to gather your staff for some creative thinking about your favorite customers: who are they, and why do you want to work for them? What makes them a good fit for you, and how can you attract more of them? When you can answer key questions like these, you are on the path to creating a customer profile that will orient your staff in the same direction and provide laser focus for your company’s vision, strategy, and efforts.
The Power of Two (Two Proven Strategies, That Is)
So how do you create the most effective and accurate customer profile possible? If you’ve been reading as much of the recent buzz on marketing strategy and client profiling as we have, you may be asking yourself this question: what is the difference between the Ideal Customer Profile and the Buyer Persona—and which one does my company need? First, let’s sort out the terminology.
The Ideal Customer Profile = Companies
The Ideal Customer Profile is a tool that seeks to define the customer at a company level, rather than an individual level. Typically, the Ideal Customer Profile is used in business-to-business (B2B) marketing and encompasses such information as a company’s annual revenue, number of employees, and stage of maturity.
The Buyer Persona = People
By contrast, the Buyer Persona (BP) is a business-to-customer (B2C) tool that seeks to understand customers on an individual level. It is a user-centered approach that gathers information about people’s daily challenges and needs, and examines what motivates them and inspires their trust. (For more elaboration, check out Jeff Ogden’s succinct post, An Ideal Customer Profile vs. Buyer Persona.)
What Do I Need? A New Vision for Client Profiling
While definitions are all well and good, “well and good” never seems to be good enough for us Whole Brainiacs—we’re looking for something more progressive. We’re of the mind that the most effective B2B marketing acknowledges the powerful influence of individual personalities, challenges, and needs. In our repeated experience, the most effective approach synthesizes the ideal customer profile and the buyer persona, creating a profile that recognizes the importance of both the characteristics and needs of the client company while at the same time acknowledging the characteristics and needs of the individual team members making up that company. We’ve put this idea into practice with excellent results: customer relationships that fit like never before!
So now you’re scratching your head and asking, “Yes, but how?” Have no fear—we’ll walk you through it step-by-step, because we know that this task is just that important to your company’s success. In the coming weeks, you’ll see three more parts to this series that will explain:
• what questions and data you’ll need to create an Ideal Customer Profile
• what questions and data you’ll need to create a Buyer Persona
• how to merge them together into one easy-to-use document
We’ll be sure to include templates and tips to make it as simple as possible for you—so stay tuned!
Next Up: Creating the Ideal Customer Profile
• Download our eBook, Get Sales and Marketing Traction with Inbound