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Top 10 B2B marketing challenges

Holger Schulze, Marketing Director at SafeNet, recently posted a great question to the 9,040 members of LinkedIn’s B2B Marketing group (

“Can you use ONE WORD to describe the biggest challenge facing B2B Marketing today?”

And what a lively response it received.  When I ran the analysis below, 162 people had replied and this has since risen to 190.  Most shared their thoughts on challenges, but some posted to comment on the triviality of the question.  Personally I love the question.  Sure, it’s not a scientific sample nor does it probe into the depths of our collective psyche.  However, it forces a focussed answer and acts as a good catalyst for further discussion.   

Given the volume of opinion I thought I’d help our digestion process by creating a word cloud of opinion.  Have a peek here -

The first thing that strikes me is the diversity of challenges that we, as an industry, are felt to face.  100 separate phrases were used from “risk” to “pyrite” to “boardroom”.  Amongst the chatter though, there are some clear themes with ten words accounting for one third of responses.  In descending order of popularity:


  1. Data
  2. Differentiation
  3. Relevance
  4. Content
  5. Budgets
  6. Focus
  7. Trust
  8. Segmentation
  9. Insight
  10. Innovation


Notably, many of these challenges relate either to the basic principles of marketing – using customer insights and a segmented view to stand out in a profitable manner – or a key executional tool – data.  For all the column inches given to new trends like social media and marketing technology, it’s still the fundamentals which seem to keep marketers awake at night.

“Trust”, “relevance” and “content” also jumped out at me.

“Trust” as it features alongside words such as “honesty”, “genuineness”, “sincerity” and “integrity”.  This is a concern.  Bearing in mind the question relates to B2B marketing as a profession, some seem to lack faith in the decency of their peers.

The word “relevance” is also interesting.  It could potentially mean one of two things – ensuring relevance to the customer (external) or ensuring marketing is seen as relevant by the rest of the organisation (internal).  Given the context and use of other words such as “boardroom” the latter seems most likely.  It appears one of the biggest challenges then is not related to the market, but to internal politics.

And finally, “content”.  This picked me up as it ties in with the idea that we’re entering a refreshing new era defined by collaboration and the sharing of ideas.  How nice.