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The Importance and Value of Creating an ICP

Engagement Manager

An ‘Ideal Customer Profile’ (ICP) is a tool we often use at RIG - a set of narrowly defined hypotheses that pinpoints the type of customer most suited for utilising the technology that is being commercialised.

Creating the ICP can often be overwhelming at the start, as many broad terms are often used to describe a technology. For instance, a “sustainable technology” could be of interest to any company that has set an intention to improve its sustainability. Likewise, a “carbon reduction technology” could apply to any company that is trying to reduce its carbon emissions. In our experience, a broad outreach such as this is unlikely to be successful; if you can’t provide a specific reason for why you are reaching out to that person at that company, there is often no point in reaching out at all. By not identifying the ICP, a company can find itself wasting time in conversations where the ‘fit’ between their technology and a potential customer is uncertain.

In pinpointing the exact customer and narrowing down the ICP to a very specific individual, company and ‘beachhead market’ where the technology meets a defined need, a valuable fit is created. A narrow set of criteria, although hard to identify at first, creates a set of specifics to follow when identifying a company and person within the company to engage, leading to higher success rates during market outreach. For example, a highly specific criteria for a soil carbon measurement technology looking at potential customers would perhaps be ‘a F&B company that has already advocated for better soil health’. Once that fit has been researched, if this fit is then clearly articulated in a well-written, well-thought-out email, the time spent on researching and writing pays dividends later.

The secondary advantage of using an ICP comes from viewing the criteria within it not as a fixed list, but as a set of hypotheses that need to be proved. This is because clear articulation of beliefs in the type of market a product or service addresses can often help prove out or disprove hypotheses that over time have become gospel truths within a company. A useful analogy here is a science experiment, where the same method is used to systematically work towards a data-driven conclusion.

The ICP tool is used across all practices at RIG to ensure that throughout market outreach, the ‘fit’ between a technology and a potential customer is suited for successful engagement. Conducting value-inflective deals often stems from the creation of the ICP, highlighting the importance of creating a set of criteria to follow when engaging the market.