For businesses and agencies that are seeking to grow, the most crucial step on the ladder is the ability to generate leads — which can be a sizable challenge in itself.
Often, though, companies make the mistake of focusing on lead generation at all costs, when actually, it can be far more efficient from a marketing and sales perspective to pursue only the most suitable clients.
To do this, you need to know how to create a client profile template, which is what we will talk about in this article. But first, let’s discuss what exactly an ideal client profile is, and how it can help your business or agency to target potential clients more effectively.
What Is a Client Profile — and Why Do You Need One?
A client profile is essentially a detailed description of your ideal customer and includes information on a number of things, such as size, industry, B2B purchasing habits, and more. It can help you to better understand which types of potential clients you should be paying attention to, and to specify how exactly your brand can help those clients.
They can also help you to optimize and maximize the returns on your marketing and sales activities. After all, if you target a broad audience, you are using up a large portion of your resources, and it may not result in a meaningful return.
With a client profile, you can:
- Optimize your marketing communications.
- Reduce your overall marketing spend and customer acquisition cost (CAC).
- Improve your sales processes and strategy (if your sales team knows your ideal client's pain points, then they can pitch far more effectively).
- Create relevant and targeted content that is more resonant.
- Engage in conversation on the right channels.
- Identify better personalization opportunities (for instance, on your website or via email marketing).
- Identify more effective segmentation opportunities.
- Enhance your keyword research.
- Run more successful marketing campaigns.
- Boost lead generation and save time on low-quality leads and tire-kickers.
- Make the product and/or service you are offering more relevant to the client.
To learn more about customer profiles, you can also check out our awesome video guide!
How To Create an Ideal Customer Profile
So, how can you go about creating your ideal customer profile? The best approach is to split it down into several steps, which we will discuss below.
1. Collect Client Data
As with anything in marketing, decisions should be based on information rather than assumptions. In your head, you may have an idea of the kinds of clients you’d love to target, but if there’s no hard evidence to support the reasoning behind your goals, then you’re unlikely to get the desired results.
This is why your first step should be to collect and utilize the data you have available about your existing clients.
Of course, if you have a lot of clients, this can be time-consuming. So start by narrowing your list down to five or ten of your “best” clients, each of whom should share the following characteristics:
- Are profitable. This can be in terms of the amount of money the client spends, the number of billable hours they generate, or both.
- Are loyal. Try to focus on clients who have been with your company for a significant period of time. To define this, calculate the average lifetime of all your clients, and ensure that your chosen client meets or exceeds that figure.
- Did not exceed the sales cycle range. Only include clients that signed on with your company within your normal sales cycle range. For example, if your given sales cycle range is 4-6 months, and a client took 9 months to acquire, then they should be excluded from this shortlist.
- Are organized and proactive. Try to focus on clients that are efficient. This means partners that do not delay projects, and who provide feedback to your activities promptly and clearly.
- Are easy to work with. It’s a lot easier to develop productive working relationships with clients when you actually enjoy collaborating with them, so you can also include likeability as a factor in this list.
- Provide fulfilling work. If you work with clients who require the completion of small, simple tasks here and there, that’s fine. But for the purpose of this list, concentrate on clients who provide you with challenging and interesting projects that bring the best out of your brand and help it to develop its skillset.
- Generate a high ROI. Your ideal client should be an organization that benefits massively from the services you provide, and the best way to measure this is to identify the ROI they get as a result of your work.
2. Interview Your Existing Clients
By collecting relevant data about your clients, you can start to identify the kinds of patterns and trends that will help to reveal your ideal client. Data alone cannot give you the full picture, though, so to fill in the gaps you should also interview these shortlisted clients.
This is an important step, as it gives you a direct opportunity to glean first-hand what it is that your clients want from you. When you receive such feedback from multiple customers, it can serve as an invaluable source of information when putting together your ideal client profile.
The most effective way to conduct this process is to adopt a time-effective approach known as the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework. This allows you to define, categorize, capture, and organize what your customers are telling you and allows you to fully understand their needs. The structure of the framework also ensures that the feedback you receive is robust and remains relevant and that it doesn’t quickly become obsolete.
Of course, in addition to client interviews, you can also consult the data you already have in your CRM software to generate additional insights. Take the time to research secondary sources, too, such as industry reports, сustomer discussions on online forums, industry communities, Q&A sites, job sites, and more.
Once you’ve collected the data and gathered enough testimonies, you can then start to compile this information into a functional report, which we will cover next.
Client Profile Information
For your client profile to be effective, it’s a good idea to split it down into five sections, covering both the professional background and motivations of your ideal clients’ decision-makers, as well as the needs and background of the companies themselves.
Each section should then be broken down into a series of client profile questions that your data and client testimonies can help you to answer. To illustrate, here are some target customer profile examples.
1. Professional Profile
In this section, you want to identify the professional profile of your target clients’ decision-makers. As you will be communicating directly with these people, it’s important that you understand as much as possible about them, including:
- Their role and/or position within their company.
- The skills they need to do their job.
- The tools they are likely to use regularly in their job
- Their typical day-to-day responsibilities.
- The goals they are working towards and are expected to achieve.
- The KPIs that they are likely to be measured on.
- Who they report to, and who reports to them.
It’s unlikely – especially in larger companies — that the hiring decision will be taken alone, so aim to identify who else might be involved in the decision to hire you, too.
For example, our professional profile persona could be Julia, a digital marketing manager that has an in-depth knowledge of PPC, social media, and content marketing. She uses Semrush, Google Ads, and Salesforce heavily. Her responsibilities include the creation and management of ongoing digital campaigns in line with her company’s needs, and is expected to generate brand awareness. She is judged by the ROI she generates, as well as by a series of in-house KPIs. Julia has one or two multi-skilled digital marketing specialists working for her, and she reports directly to the company’s CEO, who has the final sign-off on any decisions.
2. How They Consume Content
To ensure that your B2B content marketing strategy is effective, you also need to lay out how these decision-makers consume content. In particular, consider:
- The kinds of sites and publications they visit to learn new information for their job.
- The professional associations or groups they belong to.
- The conferences they attend.
- The social networks they use — and how they use them.
- The influencers that they follow.
It’s especially important to consider how these decision-makers begin the search for a new agency. Do they conduct a search on Google? If so, what keywords do they use? Do they use an agency search firm or an online database?
For instance, perhaps Julia regularly visits Search Engine Journal (and other similar sites), and is a member of the Digital Marketing Institute. She attends LeadsCon and HubSpot’s INBOUND every year. She is highly active on LinkedIn and uses this platform to build her industry network and to engage with thought leadership posts, and follows influential marketing figures such as Brian Dean and Seth Godin. When searching for external agency partners, Julia’s starting point is to conduct a primitive Google search for relevant agencies using keywords such as “digital marketing agencies in new york”, and to also ask her trusted network connections for referrals.
3. Company Information
As well as identifying the background and behavior of decision-makers, you need to discuss the company itself. Focus on:
- Their industry. Are there one or more industries that you deliver your best work in?
- Their size. Again, do you tend to work better with smaller or larger clients?
- Their location.
- Their revenue level.
- Their estimated marketing budget.
- How much they outsource to vendors, and/or freelancers.
- How many in-house marketers they have.
Their typical sales process. This information can help you to design a campaign aligned with their buying process.
For example, let’s say your ideal client is in the hospitality sector, as this is where the majority of your best clients come from. The client is a small chain of around five to ten locations based within a single state. It generates between $6m to $12m in revenue per annum, of which it invests around $500k to $1m in marketing. The company has two or three dedicated marketers, but outsources the large majority of its content, design, and social media tasks to third parties. It utilizes offline marketing channels such as local radio and television, and operates a website.
4. Pain Points and Challenges
This section is where you can draw heavily on the interviews and secondary research you conducted, as these activities will have given you a lot of insight into the problems your ideal clients face. This is an important part of your client profile, as potential clients respond far more positively to vendors that not only understand their pain points, but can offer viable solutions to them, too.
For instance, maybe the biggest challenge your existing clients have faced is generating a presence in local search listings, which is something your company can address directly through your SEO expertise. Alternatively, maybe the client wants to increase their organic traffic, but does not have the resources or knowledge to create and execute a content strategy. Whatever they are, state the common pain points you have helped (or are able to help) organizations overcome.
5. Personal Characteristics
As previously mentioned, it’s a lot easier to collaborate with clients that you enjoy working with. In your client profile, state your ideal customer characteristics, such as:
- Their values, and how they align with yours.
- Their personal attributes. Maybe they are punctual and polite, or they are hands-off and trusting; whatever allows you to produce your best work.
- What makes you excited about working with them.
This section might sound trivial, but if you are able to attract clients with whom you can build positive working relationships, then they are far more likely to become repeat clients and continue to generate revenue in the long term.
Free Customer Profile Template
Once you’ve completed your research and generated answers for the questions above, the final step is to pull everything together into a central, easy-to-read document. This document will then be the reference point for all of your marketing materials and campaigns.
To make things easier, we’ve created a handy ideal client profile worksheet to ensure you don’t miss anything:
Once you have created a customer profile, it becomes far easier to qualify your leads. But you also need to ensure that you are organizing your data in such a way that it allows you to prioritize and focus on these promising, high-ticket leads.
Semrush’s Client Manager tool allows you to do this easily, and was designed to help agencies and freelancers organize and manage every element of the client landing, nurturing, onboarding, and management process.
To learn more about how Client Manager can help your business or agency, simply click the banner below.