Free Samples – Part II

I was in a local Subway restaurant recently, and was offered a small morsel of their new  brownie to try.  I hate brownies – you 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 get coffee, but every now and then it’s a great lunch  escape.  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).  Five years ago, research showed that there are up to nine reasons on the average that are created in support  of the position taken; today in 2013, it’s more like 13.

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.

Such findings certainly put political rhetorical into perspective,  doesn’t it.

Indeed, THAT’s why there are so many commercials out  there, and offers a rationale as to why there 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 – until they suddenly  find THEY are one of the unemployed, the struggling, and a person adversely  affected by the economy.

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?  Print up vouchers 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 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, 2008-2013 (Original Publication Date:  20081027)