Recently I was reading The Mom Test about customer discovery and there was a section on the ideal customer profile. Generally, entrepreneurs approach the market with an ideal customer profile that is much too broad (find a niche to get rich!). Instead, start with a narrow slice of the market, go deep, and then expand or shift the focus as new information is learned.
At Pardot, our ideal customer evolved over time and was as follows at time of exit:
- 20 – 200 total employees in the company or division of a larger company (typically a small-to-medium sized business)
- 5 – 50 employees in sales and marketing (shows a dedicated team for acquiring new customers)
- At least one full-time marketing manager (shows they have a person to run a marketing automation system)
- Sales people listed in LinkedIn (shows they have a complex sale involving consultative sales reps)
- Email newsletter signup on website (shows they are doing traditional email marketing)
- Ads on Google (shows they are spending money on direct response lead generation)
Now, finding companies that meet this profile required effort through a combination of buying data, developing scripts to crawl sites, and manual labor. In the end, the results were tremendous.
Entrepreneurs should develop a specific ideal customer profile and continually refine it.