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Marketing Strategy: When Busy is Bad

Category: Marketing Strategy

Telling those who ask that you’re very busy is a bad marketing strategy and may backfire, leaving them thinking that you’re too busy to take on new work.

Martha Spelman: Marketing Strategy: Busy is Bad Streaking Lights in Busy Cityscape

by Martha Spelman


You know the type. Ask “How are you doing?” and you get:


“I’m slammed.” “Buried.” “Too busy to eat.” “I was at work last night until midnight.” “It’s crazy here.” “I’ve got deadlines coming out of my ears.” “I’m as busy as a one-armed paper hanger.”


Newsflash: everybody’s busy.


I’m not saying it’s not good to be busy. I’m just saying, don’t tell anyone.


And why shouldn’t you tell them you’re busy? Otherwise, won’t they think you don’t have enough to do; that you’re starved for work?”


When you tell people you’re busy, it telegraphs meanings you might not anticipate. Like, “I’m so busy I can’t take on anything else.” Or, “I’m really too busy to talk to you.” Even, “I’m lousy at time management.”


If someone inquires after your well-being, they might certainly be put off by the “busy” response. Perhaps it’s a client getting ready to offer you a new project. A boss might be testing your ability (and inclination) to take on more work. A colleague that hears how busy you are may think twice before inviting you to a potentially profitable networking event, to participate in an audience-expanding speaking engagement or, worst-case, about introducing you to a new referral.


In other words, you’ve just taken yourself out of the running for potential business. Could it be you don’t want new, better work or new, better clients? Doubtful. I don’t know of very many companies that will turn away reasonable new business. But it’s possible that saying “I’m busy” accomplishes just that.


A better marketing strategy would be to answer the “How’re things going?” question like this:


“Our firm has added some new people; that’s really opened up opportunities for us.”


“I’ve got some nice projects on my desk…but I’m always open to new possibilities.”


“I’ve brought in some help to free me up a bit.”


This way, you sound “busy” but you don’t sound over-booked.


There’s a saying, “People who have more to do, get more done.” Let that be you. Leave the door open. When you respond with “I’m too busy,” you may have slammed the door in the face of your next big opportunity.


How often do you say, or hear, “I’m busy” in your work and personal life? Have any suggestions for a better response? Please share your ideas in the comments.



Would you like to get busy on a new marketing strategy for your business? Contact MarthaMartha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding, marketing and strategy expert. Using traditional and online marketing to start and grow businesses, she works with startups, entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size companies. Martha is the author of the content marketing book: The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog.


Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding and marketing expert and the co-founder of Packbands silicone storage and organization straps. Martha is the author of The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog. Click to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

To find out more about Packbands, visit the Packbands website. Martha can be reached directly at: 310.266.6992 or

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