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Why do We buy ice?

Why would you buy ice cubes? And by ice, I don’t mean those fancy, clear ice cubes, just ordinary ice cubes. If we own a refrigerator with a freezer, making ice is practically free. Literally anyone can do it; it requires almost no skill whatsoever.

Well, it turns out that there’s a very good reason for it: time. Making ice means taking heat out of water over time (unless you own a super fancy industrial freezer or have lots of liquid nitrogen on hand). And the time part is critical – if we don’t plan ahead for our party or function, there’s simply no practical way to make ice faster.

So we need to plan ahead – something that a fair number of folks aren’t good at.

Let’s say we’re having a party and we need 10 pounds of ice. We need to plan far enough ahead to make ice in our ice cube trays, not to mention emptying and refilling them if we don’t have enough trays to make all the ice we need in one batch. If we don’t plan ahead and the party is in a few hours, we have to buy ice. There’s no way for us to hurry up the ice-making process.

By buying ice, we are buying time and planning from someone else who made the ice – and we pay far more than it costs us to make ice at home. So we’re not really buying ice, are we? We’re buying time.

Time is the ultimate premium product.

Now, consider your marketing. Suppose we have to generate demand for our products and services. Like ice, there are some things that can’t be hurried, like building reach and awareness in an audience. How does this play out?

Time and money grid

If we have ample time to work with and plan ahead well, we can launch a marketing campaign on limited funds using our email list, SEO, word of mouth, and social media. We may need months to build our audience, but we can do it reasonably well on a shoestring budget.

If we have to launch quickly, or our organization failed to plan ahead, we must pay. Like buying ice cubes, we’re buying someone else’s time and planning. We’re buying the time it took for publishers and ad networks to build their audience. Like buying ice cubes, we will also pay a very large premium for someone else’s time.

If we have neither time nor money, any marketing we do will be ineffective at best. Campaigns we launch will go nowhere.

If we have both time and money to spare, we will be able to do true omni-channel marketing, in which we use our paid media to acquire audience quickly, and organic marketing to deepen and strengthen our relationship with that audience. When we launch our campaigns, they’ll succeed wildly because we’ll have the best of both worlds.

If you want to save money, you need to spend time.

If you want to save time, you need to spend money.

The question of what strategy you pursue depends on where you are in the matrix above.


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