Corporate Eye

Brands and the Disease of Data Paralysis – The 3-Step Cure

marketing big dataIs your brand suffering from data paralysis disease?

Your brand might have data paralysis disease and your business results are already suffering. If you’re slow to take action and unwilling to take risks that can’t be supported by metrics, then your brand will suffer from data paralysis disease.

Don’t worry. It’s curable.

The first step to curing data paralysis disease is recognizing the symptoms listed above. Once you admit that your brand has a problem, you can make the necessary changes to cure it.

Step 1: Accept the existence of conflicting data.

In simplest terms, data paralysis happens when brand marketers have access to so much data that they become overwhelmed. They’re incapable of narrowing their focus and distilling real meaning from the data. If a piece of data doesn’t fit their expectations, decisions come to a grinding halt.

If there is so much information in your way that you can’t move forward, then you’re enabling conflicting data to paralyze your brand. To cure your brand of data paralysis, you need to learn how to avoid getting so caught up in the details that you can’t see the big picture.

Step 2: Accept that numbers can lie.

Data can be massaged to tell a wide variety of stories. Therefore, making decisions based on the data provided to you by other people should be done with consideration for the source.

In other words, don’t believe the first numbers provided to you and stop forward momentum on an initiative because that set of data didn’t support its viability. This is self-imposed data paralysis, and you need to be prepared to question the numbers from time to time.

Step 3: Accept that you can’t always wait for data.

Quick decision-making is what separates an agile business that can seize opportunities from the pack. Data takes time to compile and analyze, so it’s critical that you have a constant flow of data through marketing automation and an experienced and intelligent analyst team.

However, you can’t always wait for all of the data to come in. The best leaders know that part of business success often ties to risk-taking, and that might mean making decisions before you have access to all of the numbers.

To cure your brand of data paralysis disease, you need to recognize the limitations and opportunities that data provides, but don’t forget the human element required to effectively analyze that data and make decisions based on it (or without it).

Image: lustfish

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.