How PMF and ICP are Mostly Behavior and Belief Traits, Not Demographic Traits

Product-Market Fit and Ideal Customer Profile are usually 25% demographic traits and 75% behavioral and belief traits. Many founders don’t learn this until too late.

The first cut of PMF and ICP are demographic traits, of course. They are necessary but not sufficient to create a growing company.

Company size, industry, and region are the big demographic traits in B2B. Age, gender, and location are big in B2C.

But that’s not enough to grow a great SaaS business with efficient customer acquisition, profitable-ish growth, and low churn.

Your ideal customer with whom your product is a great fit is not just a demographic description like “small dental offices in the US.”

There are many of those offices, but there is only a small minority of those who will buy from you efficiently, get great value, and pay you for years.

That’s really what makes the ICP in your PMF that will create a great SaaS business.

You are almost always selling to the “insert your demographic criteria here” that believe or are doing most of these things:

  •  Know they have a problem
  •  Are looking for alternatives (reaching demand)
  •  Used something (or didn’t in the past)
  •  Can understand why your solution is different and better than competitors focused on the same demographic
  •  Want to solve the problem
  •  Agree with your philosophy or your brand
  •  Will do the work to implement the solution and get value
  •  Show up in the places where you are visible

In other words, they have specific BELIEFS and BEHAVIORS that don’t describe most of the businesses or consumers in your demographic target. What they have done and how they do it.

You may sell to small dentist offices in the US, but you really are selling to the ones that have a certain problem, align with your brand story, and have used other solutions in the past, for example.

It’s useful to aim at the 10% of your target demographic that actually has the specific beliefs and behaviors that will drive their success right now.

Geoffrey Moore‘s “Crossing the Chasm” version of the product-adoption curve showed us how to focus on the narrow slice of our market that is ready to buy from us and be successful right now.

That’s the 10% who might adopt a solution like yours this year. This means it changes over time, and you need to recalibrate continually.

Another way to slice it is to ignore the 50% of your demographically-defined market that would never consider your solution, won’t actually buy this year at a fair price, and won’t do the work to get the value.

Define and ignore your CCP–Crappiest Customer Profile.

These CCPs are easier to see, but they are often the hardest to ignore, especially when you are starting out and desperately learning what works.

What are the most important beliefs and behaviors of your ICP?

Who are the CCPs you are saying NO to right now?


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