Experts and Pink Rabbits

Popular wisdom is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Really? At that rate your business will be defunct before you become effective at marketing your business and increasing your sales. Not good!

The expert on experts is Dr. Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He is the author of Peak, Secrets from the New Science of Deliberate Practice.  This is a great book for anyone who wants to develop a plan to excel in any field. It is full of sound research and good ideas. But good ideas sometimes get a bit twisted when popularized. That’s how the misconception of “10,000 hours” was born.

Here’s what Dr. Ericsson’s research actually uncovered about becoming an expert: It takes deliberate practice based on well defined, specific goals to become an expert in any field. Sometimes that means 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Sometimes more, sometimes less. 

Can you be successful at marketing your business without a 10,000  hour investment? Of course, you can! It is done every day. Although you are likely to become better at it the more you work at it.

Deliberate practice is important.  My karate Sensei, Wayne Tyler, explained it this way, “The secret to punching is not repetition. The secret is repeating one perfect punch.” I admit it took a while for me to grasp the that concept. However, one day when my head jerked back from a perfectly delivered punch.  I suddenly became enlightened. 

Deliberate practice is important but it is not much good without a plan.  The road to expertise starts with designing “well defined, specific goals” and putting them into practice. Then, you learn from monitoring your results. 

Still a bit foggy about why this is so important when marketing your business? Ok, here is a real-life example of how failure to develop “well defined, specific goals” can put marketing efforts in the ditch.

I could not help but smile when I picked up the local paper of a wealthy enclave near Nashville, Tennessee. In the paper was a large attention getting advertisement. It featured a smiling young man in a pink rabbit costume. Was it Easter? He wasn’t selling Easter eggs. A new Victoria Secret ad campaign with a twist? Nope.

It turns out this young man was trying to build his brand and sales as a real estate agent. The idea was he could sell your home fast, like a rabbit.

“Well, I do tell business people to be different,” I said to myself. But different doesn’t always make you right. Yes, this salesman did get attention. He did understand that contrast gets attention. ( for more about Contrast, )If that was his only goal, he succeeded. Did his ad build trust? No. Did he appear professional?” No. Did the ad appeal to his target customer?  I doubt it.

He was attempting to make sales in a very wealthy community. Just a little thought, a bit of research and he might have developed a more specific and more appropriate marketing approach. People who can afford $1,000,000+ homes rarely buy their new home from young men in pink rabbit costumes!

What the pink rabbit salesman failed to grasp was that contrast means getting attention that helps you achieve a “well defined, specific goal” for your business. Attention is only useful if it moves you toward your goal. If it doesn’t, it is a waste of your time and your money. Determine your goal first and make it very specific. The more specific the better. Then determine the action to take to achieve it.  

Let’s assume you have decided how your business will be different from you competitors. You have carefully set “well defined, specific goals” for a marketing or sales campaign. You know what you want to accomplish. What strategies can use to accomplish your goal?  In other words, how do you sell it?

Next time we’ll talk about two classic methods you can use to effectively reach out and deliver your marketing messages to the right buyers in today’s very competitive market place.


Chester Butler is a retired national sales and marketing instructor for the American Insurance Sales and Marketing Society(AIMS). The Professional Insurance Agents, (PIA), an insurance trade organization, has recognized Chester with the National Insurance Communicator Award. His agencies have earned marketing awards from the National PIA organization and Rough Notes Magazine.  Currently retired, he spends his time as a volunteer for local organizations.



Posted by Chester Butler - Thursday, 06/15/17, 04:21 PM - Category: Education