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One-Minute MarketerPandemic, Innovation and the Opera

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Pandemic, Innovation and the Opera

I hope when we all break from this pandemic and return to normal that we don’t forget the innovation we have all experienced. There are many meetings that should stay on Zoom. Speed to market should be constantly improving. We should be willing to try more ideas and experiment with new techniques and concepts, and we constantly need to rethink our paradigms of service.

We need to remember from this pandemic that you need to hyper-focus on the needs, wants and goals of your customer/donor/patient/stakeholder first. It should be the No. 1 node on your chart for determining new innovation. I read an article in the Washington Post about how an opera decided not to remain silent during the pandemic. They decided to forgo the closed concert hall and brought the opera home in a box.

Opera may have needed to reinvent itself anyway in this new digital world, but one found a way to offer an idea that was music to the ears of fans. On Site Opera in New York was already experimenting with taking the opera to the people. The pandemic forced its hand even more.

Each person who signed up received a new diary in the mail with different songs that you could listen to via QR codes. As writer Michael Andor Brodeur put it, the secret is “if you can treat the exile from the stage as a form of liberation, experimenting with ways to bring audiences and music together again in real spaces,” you can have an experience that will grow the market.

Brodeur told of an LA Opera production that typically would bring in 1,100 people in a two-night, sold-out theater. Once it moved online, more than 22,000 watched. Others who estimated 30,000 people a year attending live productions have more than 200,000 people attending online and outdoor programming. And that is just for opera.

The organizations that are learning from the pandemic, not waiting to get back to normal, are the organizations of the future — fueled by revolution from chaos. The times have changed, accelerated by the pandemic. There is no normal, only innovation.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

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Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.