Media companies can take a page from Cirque du Soleil. Its underlying “secret sauce” – surprise and delight your audience.

Through both the editorial and the advertising, media companies have an opportunity to excite their readers every day (and make some money).

Let’s consider how.

The show itself presents the weird, the mad-cap, the unexpected, and the talented. Do we do this enough in our editorial? On the revenue side, we need to continue to offer our advertisers creative offers that will help their messages break through and create positive word of mouth (for them and for us).

In print, more advertisements with scent/scratch-n-sniff features, Augmented Reality, messages over multiple pages, fold-outs, inventive placements, and charming ads that use the day or section of the newspaper to make the ad sing.

More. More. More.

Digitally, have fun with the ads – quizzes, puzzles, and games. Make the ads something you can share with a friend.

Throw a snowball digitally to highlight the upcoming winter festival, for example. Let the reader earn a prize, points, or a discount with the newspaper or the advertiser for participating or sharing. Make them want to participate.

Cirque du Soleil is a revenue power house. It sources money from every possible corner. First, in terms of seating, it offers affordable seats and ridiculously expensive ones – and the place is full.

What can media companies charge more for?

Do we have special content that we can provide early, or can we offer more insight to a select group, or can we provide special access to our experts? There are those who will pay more as they love sports, finance, or local real estate, to name a few.

Potentially a reader could write a movie review, provide comment on personal finance, draw a comic, etc. and have it appear in our newspapers. How much would they pay for this privilege? Participants would undoubtedly share their contribution with family and friends – and this helps build our brands.

Some readers will pay for access to our advertisers – special deals, early entry, later hours, a members-only day, etc.

When you are at a Cirque show, there is always an intermission. They offer exclusive clothing and accessories as well as expensive snacks and drinks.

What do we offer our readers and advertisers in the in-between moments when they are not engaging with us in print or digitally? And we need to make it revenue generating.

Provide something they each want. Something exclusive. Offer (for a price) a “how to buy a house” seminar, a wine tasting course, or cooking lessons, and have your exceptional editorial staff teach. Consider providing a discount card (hard copy or electronic with deals sent via e-mail weekly) that provides offers from all of your advertisers – earn from advertisers based on redemption.

Do the same digitally. Offer an “ask an expert” e-mail service and get a response within 24 hours. Editorial staff or advertisers can be the respondents (e.g. local doctors, hair salons, etc.) with, of course, full transparency. Or they can sign up for daily text: horoscopes, positive affirmations, exercise tips, etc.

This can be monetised through consumer micro-payments or ads in the communications.

For more inspiration, consider taking in a Cirque du Soleil show. Its recent Kurios is clearly a thought starter.