Several years ago, I was in a local Subway restaurant, and was offered a small bite of their new brownie to try.  I hate brownies – one must have milk with them.

But it was a small piece.

Lo and behold, the free sample resulted in me purchasing  four brownies to share with people who were coming to the house.  They were that good.

Similarly, I used to do lots of work on the computer at the local Panera coffee shop.  I usually ordered coffee, but every now and then it’s a great lunch escape.  At the time, their free samples of bread at the door lets me consider something new instead of simply resorting to “the usual.”

The latest brain research shows that once your mind formulates a “yes or no” decision regarding a choice, it will formulate reasons (whether valid or not) as to why that choice is the right one (whether it is or not).

Fifteen years ago, research showed that there are up to nine reasons on the average that are created in support of the position taken.  Ten years ago, that number had increased to thirteen, and today one’s brain can think of ALL kinds of reasons why one’s current decisions are the “right” ones – whether or not they are associated with proven truths or facts.

Why is this important?  It takes that same number of exposures simply to begin to be open to a new idea, or a change in ideas.

Think of it this way – each exposure shoots down one of those “sentient” ideas created by our subconscious mind.

The bottom line to this is that if you really want to be open to all possibilities, say to yourself, “That’s interesting,” rather than choosing a positive or negative stance.  A positive or negative response to a stimulus triggers the brain to seek out and evaluate supporting positions for one’s current mindset.  Once an opinion is formulated, it takes constant exposures to different information to simply begin to break through the decision that the brain has reached for you.

It makes sense from a biblical perspective, too. “Say ‘Yes’ when you mean yes and ‘No’ when you mean no” really means that when you take either position, your brain is automatically generating reasons why your stance is a valid one – regardless of whether your position is based on truth, rumor, conjecture or blatantly false information.

Now you know why people who want to believe “fake news” do so, even when refuted with scientific evidence to the contrary.

Such findings certainly puts political rhetoric and viewpoints into perspective, doesn’t it.

Indeed, THAT’s why there are so many commercials out there, offering a rationale as to why the ads for ANYTHING just seem to keep multiplying, as well as impacting you from all different directions.

It’s also why marketing messages about your school have to be consistent and constant.

But what’s this got to do with free samples?

The only other way the mind will change is when is it jarred into a personally  uncomfortable position.  We see this when people have nothing to say about their school until someone says that their school is closing.

On a greater scale,  it’s one thing for people to say they’re concerned about the unemployed, the  struggling, or people adversely affected by the economy or, as we’ve seen, acts of violence and hatred carried out in our local communities and our world – until they suddenly find THEY are one of the unemployed, the struggling, a person adversely affected by the economy or a family member or friend of someone injured or killed by violence.

On a smaller scale, let’s take a look at your school.  Just as walking into a Panera and having a different style of bread offered to me when I walk through the door forces me our of my comfort zone immediately, what would happen if you as a school administrator, teachers, parents and children were standing outside the door after Mass or Sunday services, and offered parents with young children a month of free tuition at your school?

Want to try it?

Print up coupons and have a table and a big sign that says “One Month for FREE.”  Advent wreathes are sold there; hoagies from the cheerleading squads are sold there; even the Boy Scouts sell popcorn there.  So, why not a “Try it  for 30 days on us” opportunity?  Granted, this might not work with children in grades 3 through 12 when the social aspects of school start to kick in, but for those in Kindergarten and First Grade, it might be worth a shot.  Aggressive?  Yes – however, you have  a product that you know is THE place for the whole child to be formed!

But you have to bring sound marketing principles into it.   Don’t just do it for one week, and then say it didn’t work.  Just like the “never-ending political campaign,” try it for at least 9 weeks – perhaps now through the end of the year to prepare you for the second semester.  Those 9 exposures, especially around the holidays and the mid-year break might be just what’s needed to overcome those 9 reasons parents’  brains have created telling them it’s the right choice for their child not to be in your school.

More on brain research next week – including an experiment with the sense of smell.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2023 (Original Publication Date:  20081027)