What is an ideal client profile, and how do you define yours?

Your ideal client profile describes the type of businesses you want to serve, and excludes those that you don’t. It’s not so much a list of your segments, but the characteristics that need to be true of all of your segments.

Let me explain what this really means and how to define your ideal client profile.

Your target market is those businesses who most feel the pain

In any go-to-market plan, your target market is those businesses who are most affected by the problem that you can solve better than anybody else. So we need to start with a clear definition of the problem.

Consider all of the problems that you can solve. Then consider those problems which are really attractive to focus on, and those problems that you’re really good at solving.

Then choose one that has the right balance of attractiveness and strength.

I’ve blogged on that topic quite often including “Trouble your market ab the right problem” and “How to get your team to buy into your problem choice“.

Your segments are defined as the role within each business type who is most affected by the problem that you choose

Having chosen the problem that you’re most going to focus on, think about all the types of businesses that have that problem and who within those businesses is most worried about that problem. Here are some examples.

What is true about all of those segments?

Now, think about what’s true for every one of those segments. Think about:

  • Size:
  • Geography;
  • Maturity of the business;
  • How it’s funded; and

Anything that is universally true, that’s going to be part of your ideal client profile.

 And who is most profitable?

But think also about profitability. What kind of businesses are really profitable to serve for you? And, what is true about the businesses that just have turned out not to be so profitable for you? You need to think about that as well in your ideal client profile.

How to define your ideal client profile

Let’s tie all that together. What does it really mean? What is your ideal client profile and how do you come up with it?

  • Start with a list of all the target segments that you’re going to serve.
  • On a separate list, then, write down all of the universal truths, the characteristics that are true of all those segments so you don’t have to write them out a hundred times.
  • Then add the characteristics of what is a really profitable company for you. How they run, how they’re managed, how they’re governed.
  • Then think about the characteristics that would help you avoid the unprofitable companies – the ones that you really don’t want to serve anymore, but you might have in the past.
  • Take all of that, cull it aggressively and carve it in stone, then communicate it widely.

How to detail your ideal client profile in Funnel Plan

In Funnel Plan, navigate to the problem section to identify all of the problems, and then rate them. Go to the target market section to identify firstly the segments that you’re going to serve. That is, the businesses who most have the problem and the roles who are most affected by that problem. Then the ideal client profile, and the universal truths. Once that has been added, your Funnel Plan will display all of the problems that you considered, the one that you chose and the segments you identified, including the role and the type of business and how much emphasis you’re going to give each.

Then describe the universal truths: the ideal client profile of the most profitable companies that you want to serve.

Share and Subscribe

If you don’t have a Funnel Plan, go get one. You can get a free one here at funnelplan.com. The paid versions have a lot more functionality, but the free one’s a great place to start. Go to funnelplan.com, get yourself a Funnel Plan. Identify the problem that you solve better than anybody else, the ideal client profile and then the target markets that you’re going to serve.


Lots more lined up for next week. Until then, may your funnel be full, and always flowing.

Our thanks to:

  • Rhianna Busler for production;
  • Hugh Macfarlane for scripting and presenting this week’s show