Conn-Selmer Launches ‘Smart Parents’ Promotion
Often a good idea is so simple it makes you wonder, “Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?”
The challenge has been well-documented in these pages for years: band directors take issue with some instruments — usually bought at a mass merchant and usually at one-half or even one-third the price of an instrument bought at a traditional music retailer — that can be difficult to deal with in the band room. Yet the few who have tried to send out flyers expressing the opinion that these instruments are below standards have been met swiftly with cease-and-desist letters (or worse), often on a law firm’s letterhead.
So what to do?
“Band directors are having issues with some instruments being brought into the classroom,” Rich Breske confirms. Not only can poor-quality new instruments pose difficulty, but Breske, the director of communications for Conn-Selmer, points out that used instruments aren’t always up to par. “Often parents will get an instrument even before the band director has had a chance to explain things on rental night,” he says.
So while it’s been established that you may be on shaky ground legally telling a parent to not buy a certain product, there’s nothing to keep someone from recommending what product to buy. And taking it to the next logical step, Conn-Selmer has figured out a way to not only make it easier for band directors to get the level of quality instruments they desire for their programs, but to be rewarded for doing something they want to happen anyway.
The reward is they can earn points that will get them free new instruments for their programs. It’s the “Smart Parents” program and it’s designed to help parents understand that some instruments have better value than others.
Communicating the Point – for Points
Launching right now, the program is designed to be win-win-win: good for parents, good for the schools and, not coincidently, good for Conn-Selmer and the many instrument lines they manufacture and distribute.
It’s simple: band directors register their school online at the instrument maker’s new Web site, www.firstinstrument.com. The director receives a code, and creates a flyer that tells parents if they rent an instrument from this list of Conn-Selmer brands, and register the model and serial number on the site, the school music program will earn points for the rental.
Points are earned no matter what the instruments, and if the student drops out halfway through the first year, the director still gets the points for the full year. When a student re-ups the next year, the director earns more points. A band director earning as few as 24 points can get a free percussion bell kit. “But you can combine points for not only a whole school, but an entire district,” Breske states. So if you have a large school with several directors, you can earn quite a bit and “a district with several high schools and middle schools can earn hundreds of points in an single sign-up.”
Those saving their points can redeem them for low brass, harmony woodwinds, double reeds that are often missing in orchestras, cellos and double basses that can few and far between in string orchestras, and those uncommon, expensive percussion instruments.
“We think the possibilities for schools with this program are tremendous,” Breske says. “All schools are comfortable with our brands. Because of our size, we can reach out to over 100,000 parents — we have experience in promotion and know what works and what doesn’t. Finally, the Web site itself, firstinstrument.com, has a wealth of knowledge for the new band parent.
The Web site contains information on the importance of music, knowing and working with the band director, how a parent can help his or her child succeed in music, do’s and don’ts of instrument care, choosing a music store, and even a glossary of instrumental music terms.
The program will work best if the director gets the word out early and often. “The first announcement about the program should go out early that year, then again at parent rental night,” Breske concludes. “Any time they communicate with parents they should stress it. The possibilities are really wide open.”