Conversing with the Gods

It appears that Melbourne has been swept away with Les Misérables fever. Last night, the State Library of Victory highlighted its partnership with Cameron Mackintosh and Les Mis by holding ‘A Conversation with Claude-Michel Schöenberg’.

Claude-MichelSchonberg2011_0Over the last year I have become slightly obsessed with these ‘In conversation with . . .’ events. And it is probably because Melbourne has been lucky enough to score Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz and now Claude-Michel Schöenberg, all of whom have been interviewed on stage during their Australian trips.

While these events are great for celebrity junkies, like myself, they also provide a fantastic opportunity for marketing. I don’t mean marketing in the selling-you-pointless-stuff-you-don’t-need sense, but marketing through the provision of extra value.

Everybody who attended the State Library event yesterday (which sold out in a couple of days), is already going to Les Mis. This isn’t the kind of event that attracts people who want to try out a musical – this is for the die-hard fans! As such, pointless promotion is unnecessary because chances are they have already bought tickets.

But this event is still important for marketing by adding extra value to these loyal consumers’ experiences.

One thing that stuck with me after the presentation was an admission by Claude-Michel Schöenberg that he didn’t read music. Being a musician, reading music seems like second nature and it is hard to understand how someone who writes such beautiful works as Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and The Pirate Queen is able to compose without actually being able to read music.

While this doesn’t directly relate to marketing, it provided me with a catalyst to discuss the event with many musicians and find insights into the importance of improvising and breaking the boundaries of notated music which all related to the Les Mis brand. And while this has its benefits in spreading word of mouth, what it does exceptionally well is encourage me to interact with the product.

After hearing this confession, I had to go back and listen to the soundtrack to marvel over the fact that he wrote this beautiful work without reading music. An action which makes me further appreciate the product and develop a unique relationship with the musical due to this background insight.

And ultimately this unique relationship and extra information I have learnt makes me want to come back again, and again, and again, and again and convince friend after friend after friend after friend to go and see the show because I now have a greater appreciation for the product!