We have to listen to a lot of pitches. Be it a cold-call or a conversation at a job fair, a networking event or an off-duty get-together--everyone has something to sell. And that's fine, but when you get inundated with information, the elevator pitch loses its novelty.

At a certain point, potential customers and investors go relatively numb and traditional sales pitches lose their efficacy. In some cases, novelty is the only way to go. Here are a few personal examples of pitches and customer acquisition techniques that go the extra mile while also exhibiting a willingness to go the extra mile.

It really can be the cost that counts.

At my company Reedsy, online money transfers are an essential function of the website. Naturally when the time came to choose a money-transfer service, we were very selective. My co-founder and I looked over nearly a dozen pitch-decks and presentations, but one of the most convincing pitches was also one of the most unorthodox.

One day, I received a package in the mail from Payoneer, a payment processing company vying for our business. However, instead of a stuffy pamphlet or an envelope filled to the brim with branding materials, the package contained an iPad charger cable and an Alice's Adventures in Wonderland card filled with a handwritten note explaining that I could keep the iPad after completing the company's demo.

Spending hundreds of dollars on an iPad for a potential sale might sound risky from an investment standpoint, but from the startup's perspective, the pitch cut through the noise. People love receiving gifts, however small they may be -- an iPad feels like a serious freebie, regardless of the recipient's net worth.

More importantly, the note made the entire package feel more thought out: handwriting aside, Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite books of all time. I'm not sure if the company did that kind of research or if the choice was a happy accident on their part, but it made the gift feel targeted and, as per the old cliche: it's the thought that counts.

Another cliche that still holds up for investors is the idea that scared money won't make any money. While Payoneer's example of an iPad may be a tad pricey for some, I recently watched a presentation by Nicolas Cary, the co-Founder and president of Blockchain.com.

Pay the customer acquisition cost--to your customer.

Blockchain is the world's foremost software platform for digital assets, offering Bitcoin wallets and infrastructure to startups and other businesses. For many, however, crypto-currency's learning curve is a tad steep; people are often hesitant to take the plunge, or they're stymied by the technology. Nicolas decided to help ease potential clients into the process by offering $10 in Bitcoin to anyone who would download the Blockchain app -- a perfect amount of money to play with, but nothing that would affect the company's bottom line in a significant way.

The transfer would take just a few seconds, as anyone with the app can receive money via a QR code. Considering that $10 is probably Blockchain's customer acquisition cost, this more personal approach sounds like a no-brainer. The return on the investment, meanwhile, is massive: potential customers like myself quickly overcame their stage-fright and the company won our trust instantly.

These two examples show that when it comes to customer acquisition in the startup space, a little extra time, effort, and research can pay off exponentially. Understanding your target audience, their fears and anxieties, and alleviating them as best you can is a no-brainer; personalizing the approach and doing even the most rudimentary research will help cut through the noise.

Published on: May 30, 2017