Ideal customer profile: what it is and how to create one (+ template)

Learn about customer profiling and use our template to get you started on your profiling journey.

It’s no longer enough to simply get more customers: you want better customers. The ones who stick by you, who are loyal and buy more than once, and recommend you to their friends, family and anyone else who wants to hear it. You are not just looking for a customer: you’re looking for the one.

And while we have to be realistic and say that you’ll get a lot of customers who seem perfect, but aren’t quite, it is clever to have an idea of what your ideal customer looks like. Not to daydream with. But to give your marketing and sales teams a powerful tool to attract the best customers, increase customer lifetime value and make current customers stick around.

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is an invaluable tool for businesses of all types, sizes, and age, allowing them to identify the characteristics of their best customers and focus on attracting more people like them.

Here we’ll explore what exactly an ICP is and how you can create one for your business.

What is an ideal customer profile?

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a depiction of your company’s dream customer, often created with information straight from those dream customers. An ideal customer profile defines details about the customers’ likes, pain points, personality traits, behaviors, purchasing habits and more. 

Get reliable insights for your customer profile

Running consumer profiling will help you build a true picture of your ideal customers: learn how they think, act and—most importantly—buy!

Start your consumer profiling

Customer profiling will help you understand how and why people buy products

Why do you need an ideal customer profile?

By creating an ideal customer profile you can give your business a consistent understand of who you’re targeting. You’ll then provide your target consumers with the most optimized product or service for their needs.

Here are some ways an ideal customer profile helps your business (and customers!):

Set up a successful sales strategy

If your sales teams aren’t really hitting the spot when talking to or identifying high value customers, get to know those customers better first, before ingraining your ideal customer profile into your sales strategy. If you want to target accounts or consumers that bring in more value, do the work and get to know what makes them tick first.

Make customer acquisition easier and more accurate

Your marketing efforts will also benefit from having accurate data on who they are supposed to target. If you give your marketing team a detailed explanation of who should be seeing their content and ads, they can figure out the where and what a lot easier.

Delight existing customers over and over

A lot of your ideal customers might already be buying from you. You want to keep them on board and increase their customer lifetime value. You can do this by digging deeper into their wants and needs, and showing up with solutions to these before they have to go look for them elsewhere (from a competitor…).

Help product teams create best-selling products

The better you get to know your target market, the better your product team will be at creating products that fit their needs. They product will almost sell itself!

Ideal customer profile vs buyer personas

You might be confused: how are ideal customer profiles that different from buyer personas? There are some nuances, if you look close enough. Let’s look at what both of them are, and how they are used.

Ideal customer profile

A company’s ideal customer profile (ICP) is an in-depth analysis of the attributes that make up their perfect client. It includes demographic information such as age, gender, income level, geographic location and educational attainment—all the way to behavioral insights like buying patterns and interests or areas of difficulty.

The ICP serves as a strategic guide to ensure that businesses can optimize their product, sales and marketing approach towards their most desirable prospects and customize their services or products to better suit their needs and wishes.

Buyer personas

Buyer personas are detailed and imaginative depictions of the perfect consumer.

By combining insights about their behavior, interests, and motivations with real data on demographics, you can create an accurate representation of your ideal target audience. They’re more like a fictional customer that you turn to to check whether your decisions are in line with what suits them.

With a buyer persona, businesses can gain insight into how their products or services fill the needs of their target customers and recognize the unique problems they face. This knowledge helps them to form effective marketing strategies that address those challenges more accurately.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of overlap in how both these tools work, but they are somewhat of a different approach. Buyer personas can be used throughout the organization—not just for marketing and sales. You could give this fictional character to every employee to make sure they interact with them in the best way possible: think of customer service employees.

The ICP is more commonly used by those involved in creating products, finding leads, crafting marketing messages and anything else that needs to be done before selling products or services.

What are the questions my customer profile should answer?

Your consumer profiling will likely need to answer some basic questions to help your marketing and sales team best understand who you’re targeting.

When you’re working on your ideal customer profile, these are some of the questions to bear in mind that might need to be answered by your data:

  • What are the characteristics of my target audience?
  • What motivates my audience?
  • Where does my target audience live?
  • What type of messaging does my ideal customer engage with?
  • How does my target audience interact with a business like mine?
  • What products and services does my target audience buy?
  • What kind of purchasing journey matters to my audience?
  • What types of advertising does my audience consume?
  • What type of content does my ideal customer want?

How to create an ideal customer profile in 6 steps

Whenever you’re looking to create a customer profile using data you’ve collected, there are some tried and tested steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your research. 

Follow these six steps to turn consumer data into useful customer profiles

And here they are for good measure…

Step 1: Define why you need an ideal customer profile

Ask yourself: what outcomes am I looking for from this ideal customer profile? Because customer data and profiling have so many uses, making sure you have a clear goal in mind for your customer profiling will really help you focus the scope and scripting of your research. It will also ensure you reap the full benefits of customer profiling

Step 2: Focus on two variables

These are two variables you should expect to polarize your sector. They could be based around price, brand recognition or something else. Your variables just need to encapsulate an idea that might split your consumers’ opinion.  

Here’s an example of two variables: If you were creating customer profiles for your gym, you might test ‘how often do you go to the gym?’ against ‘how do you like to feel when you go there?’.

That way you can see who goes every day but only likes to break into a little sweat, and who goes twice a week but likes to work so hard they can barely walk away afterwards.

Step 3: Make sure your variables are mutually exclusive

Using the gym example above, you don’t want respondents telling you they go to the gym once a month, and also tell you that they go every day. You can make sure your variables are mutually exclusive by avoiding multiple-choice questions.

Ensuring your variables are mutually exclusive will mean that you’ll get a good sense of the true differences between different customers 

Step 4: Bring your consumer profiles to life with demographic filters

Using demographic filters, such as those used on the Attest customer research platform, will add extra insight to your overall consumer research.

Coupled with your own behavioral and psychographic questions, demographics like age, gender or location will make the overall picture of your customer profile massively clearer. 

Step 5: Analyze your data compared with your original outcomes

Cross-tab the key polarizing questions in Attest’s interactive results dashboard, to see the groupings of answers within other variables. This will give you the basic makeup of each of the profiles.

Make sure to emphasize to your team all stand-out answers to the questions asked, especially focusing on the consumer responses that differed substantially from the average response of the population.

Step 6: Repeat

The beauty of customer profiling is that it’s an easily repeatable process. In fact, repeating your consumer profiling research is always a good thing, as it means you’ll always be on top of any emerging trends and changes in attitudes among your customers or potential customers. 

Once you’ve created your working customer profiles, repeat—budget and time allowing—every year or so. With new competitors, new influencers and brand-new customers all entering the market, the perceptions and status quos will shift with time.

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Knowing who your existing and future customers are helps drive company direction and unlock new sources of growth.

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Can startups do customer profiling?


Some marketers might think that customer profiling can only be done by big companies with a lot of cash to burn. But customer profiling is arguably just as important, maybe even more important, for startups than for established brands.

One of the key things startups need to do is find out who to target and how best to target them, and that’s where customer profiling and buyer personas can be a lifeline. Through customer profiling companies can create customer segmentation to help them paint a true picture of their different audiences, and to inform their overall decision-making process.

Find out more about why startups should care about consumer profiling.

Teams of all sizes can use customer profiling to define their ideal customers and inform their sales and marketing strategies

What do I do with a customer profile?

Having customer profiles helps you plan your business’s future strategy and product roadmap, driving business direction and unlocking new sources of growth. 

Having that full understanding of your customer base will help your product, sales and marketing teams to create products or services that will give customers just what they need.

Customer profile templates

Using a template of a customer profile survey can give you the introduction you need to start your customer profiling journey. It’ll give you some of the key data you need to create your ideal customer profile.

With the Attest platform, we offer our own customer profile templates and real-life consumer profiling survey examples.

Here are some of the key questions we ask: 

You’ll first need to make sure the people you’re surveying will be relevant to your research. You can do this by setting audience quotas (easily done on the Attest platform!), and with qualifying questions such as:

  • Which of these products have you purchased in the last 3 months?
  • Which of these brands are you aware of?
  • Which of these brands have you purchased in the last 3 months?
  • How much would you say you spend on >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY< per month?
  • What is stopping you from buying more of >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY<?
  • On which occasions do you purchase >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY<?
  • How important is each of these areas when you decide which >INSERT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORY< to buy?

Moving on, it’ll help to get an understanding of how your target customers shop, with a question such as: 

  • Which describes how you best like to shop?

And finally some questions about the customers media consumption habits themselves:

  • Thinking about the following, how often do you use/listen/watch any of these media?
  • From the following, which areas do you give most focus to at the moment?
  • What do you like to do when you have free time?

We’ve compiled 50 of the most powerful questions you can use for your customer profile template to make sure you get the most out of your audience profiling research.

The crux of customer research is asking your target audience questions about themselves and their habits

Start profiling your target customers with Attest

Ideal customer profiles and buyer personas are powerful tools that can help businesses to better understand the needs of their target customers.

By combining real data on demographics with insights about behavior, interests and motivations, you can create a detailed representation of who you should be targeting in order to optimize your marketing approach for maximum effectiveness.

With Attest’s profiling tool, businesses of any size and age now have access to an easy-to-use platform that will enable them to quickly build ideal customer profiles that will help you craft more effective messages, products and services.

Get reliable insights for your customer profile

Running consumer profiling will help you build a true picture of your ideal customers: learn how they think, act and—most importantly—buy!

Start your consumer profiling

Sam Killip

VP Customer Success 

Sam joined Attest in 2019 and leads the Customer Research Team. Sam and her team support brands through their market research journey, helping them carry out effective research and uncover insights to unlock new areas for growth.

See all articles by Sam