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A big hello from Raleigh, North Carolina. Welcome to another SOLO episode where I answer a common B2B marketing question people always ask during my sessions and workshops.

That question is: what is the difference between ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and Buyer Persona?

Right after that one, the next question is: When and where to use an ICP and Buyer Persona?

In this episode:

  • Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona definitions
  • The differences between the two
  • What are the meanings of firmographics and technographics
  • How are ICP and buyer personas connected to marketing and sales
  • Specific examples of when to use ICP and buyer personas

Quotes from the episode:

“With digital integration, ICP and buyer personas are equally important for sales and marketing today.”

“If your company doesn’t have ICP, look at the top 25 or 50 accounts. Chances are that there are some similarities across these accounts, so you can create a version of ICP by comparing. ”

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To expand your knowledge on ICP vs Buyer Persona, check out some of my previous podcast episodes, blog posts, and video.

Podcast episodes

The Myth of the Empowered Buyer

Marketers Can Make An Impact on Buyer Research and Sales Engagements

With Buyers in Control Sales and Marketing Must Align

Blog post

How The Best Sales Reps Set Themselves Apart From Competition

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

Video

Two Ways to Get a Clear Vision Statement From Your Management

TRANSCRIPT

A big hello from Raleigh, North Carolina. Welcome to another SOLO episode where I answer a common B2B marketing question people always ask during my sessions and workshops. And that question is: what is the difference between ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and Buyer Persona? Then, the next question is When and Where to Use an ICP and Buyer Persona?

In today’s episode, I will:

  1. Cover the differences between the two
  2. Give specific examples of when to use ICP and buyer personas

So, what are the differences between ICP and Buyer Personas?

Here is the short and sweet definition:

  • ICP (Ideal Customer Profile): A description of the type of company (in your sales people’s mind, it’s an account) you want to sell to.
  • Buyer persona: A description of potential buyers or people who may influence the buyers you want to market to.

ICP is more about the company. Buyer Persona is more about your customers. ICP is more about accounts, the company’s firmographics and technographics. What do we mean by “firmographics?” It refers to company attributes such as company size, annual revenue, headcount, industry segment, etc.

Firmographics = company size, annual revenue, headcount, industry segments etc.

“Technographics” refers to the types of technologies companies use. Technographics = the types of technologies that companies use.

For example, your product can only be integrated with Salesforce.com. If you know a company’s technographics, you can quickly decide whether you want to engage or not. Technographic intelligence can also help marketing qualify leads before they pass them to the sales team. So, ICP hones in on firmographics and technographics to gather company intelligence. A buyer persona is about understanding a specific segment of people who will buy from you or want to sell to you.

OK, we now understand the main differences between ICP and buyer personas. But When should we use ICP and Buyer Persona? Well, that depends. Here is the general rule of thumb.

ICP is more about companies and accounts. Guess who tends to talk about those things? Salespeople! You will need to know ICP well if you work closely with sales. If your company doesn’t have ICP, look at the top 25 or 50 accounts. Chances are that there are some similarities across these accounts, so you can create a version of ICP by comparing. On the marketing front, you can use ICP to further qualify leads before you pass them to the sales team. For example, you may receive 200 leads a month. As we discussed, you can filter out leads based on technographics or firmographics. You can also use ICP to identify accounts for account-based marketing (ABM).

The buyer persona is critical for messaging development, content development, and marketing campaigns. The buyer persona is critical for messaging development and content creation. When you create messaging, you think you are communicating with a specific individual, not a company. When you create content or select a creative concept, you are in the mindset that it will resonate with a specific individual, not a company. See, this is where buyer personas come in handy.

In the past, ICP was more commonly used on the sales side, while buyer personas were more common on the marketing front. With digital integration, ICP and buyer personas are equally important for sales and marketing today.

When you engage with your sales team, you need to know account-specific information (ICP) and the decision-makers they engage with (buyer personas). When you develop your media plan, you are likely to add company attributes in addition to buyer demographics so that algorithms can search for look-alike company targets for your media buy. In a way, you need both ICP and buyer personas to optimize your media plan.

A quick recap of key differences:

  • ICP is more about company intelligence, firmographics, and technographics
  • Buyer persona focuses on a set of customers that will buy from you or that you will market to. It’s about buyer demographics, this person’s challenges and goals.

When should you use what?

It depends on what you do.

If you create content and messaging, buyer personas may be more important than ICP. For media buy and working closely with sales scenarios, you will need both ICP and buyer persona.

So, how do you define ICP and buyer personas? Or what attributes would you add to ICP or buyer persona descriptions that I may have missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my podcast on your favorite listening platforms.

Take care, bye!


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