In a world where the cost of information is reaching zero, doing the unconventional is often the only way to stand out in a crowded field.

Consider the fact that companies like Pricewater Cooperhouse can receive hundreds of thousands of job applications per year alone. The standard advice: get good grades, have a resume, and apply for multiple positions. But that just won’t cut it.

You’re going to need to do something outside of the box if you want to have a chance.

Businesses have known that the unconventional pays for a while now. Read anything about the fastest-growing startups today, and the one thing they have in common is that they do something unique in their sales and marketing efforts.

Airbnb highjacked Craigslist apartment listings. Mint targeted bloggers with a sales letter they couldn’t ignore. Harry’s created a brilliant referral program that reached hundreds of thousands of people.

By the time these strategies are well known, they’re no longer as effective. Massive success comes to the first few movers.

I’ve become fascinated by what a young professional seeking a job could learn from what top sales and marketing teams do to get new customers.

Job seeking is, for the most part, a sales and marketing process after all.

Here are four things I’ve seen companies do to help them reach their target audience and sign new customers.

1) Send an Amazon package to pitch the company

I once spoke with a sales rep at a medical technology company in Austin, TX. He told me one of the things his team does during prospecting is send out Amazon packages to the offices of their potential customers. Why? Because no one will ignore an Amazon package like they might ignore a cold email or cold calls. Then they include their pitch material in the package.

Imagine doing this to pitch a company you want to work for. Purchase a gift from Amazon—maybe a good business book—and send it to the HR team, the CEO, or even the entire office. Include a personal note about why you want to work with them and a link to a tailored pitch video you made just for them so they can learn more about you.

Now you’re not just one of hundreds of applicants on a stack or in a filing cabinet. You’re a real person who’s so excited about them you went out of your way to send them something personal—and different.

2) Launch a branded microsite

I worked at a marketing company when I first left college. When we pitched companies, we’d often be up against much larger firms. My manager was a brilliant guy though, and he had a way of all but guaranteeing we’d get the client.

Let’s say we were pitching a website job. Rather than sending the prospect an outline of the costs and our scope of work, we’d buy a branded domain and build a branded microsite outlining our proposal, the cost, and some of our past work. We did this every time for a new client.

Nina Mufleh took this same idea when she wanted to get a job at Airbnb. She created a microsite: Nina4AirBnB. It included what was essentially her work proposal for Airbnb. It’s highly specific to the company, which shows a much more specific interest than putting up a generic site that has your resume and qualifications in the abstract.

3) Publish an article on a third-party site about improving their business

A couple of months ago, I read about a guy named Andrew Medal, a marketer and web designer. He has just about the most interesting client acquisition strategy I’ve ever heard of—he writes an article about the company and what it needs to do to grow.

He’ll publish these articles in popular publications like Huffington Post and almost always has the company knocking at his door.

Here’s an example: 7 Growth Hacking Strategies Nekter Must Execute to See Accelerated Growth

You might not have the reach Andrew does or the access to top blogs, but you could easily replicate this on the job search. For each company you want to work for, publish an in-depth article on Medium or LinkedIn, tag the company, and if you don’t hear back, reach out on Twitter.

4) Offer to provide a live demo to them and a free trial

When I worked at Praxis and we switched our marketing platform over to Hubspot, we went through many demos to make sure it was the right platform for us. The salesperson was helpful at showing us all the ways we could use the software to accomplish our goals and did much of it over live and prerecorded video.

I started thinking, What if you could do roughly the same thing during the hiring process?

Maybe you offer to do a small project for the company and document the entire process on video for them as a “demo” of what you can do. Or maybe you just do the project yourself, document it, then send it to them along with a video pitch.

You could take it a step further by offering a free trial as many software companies do. For a 30-day window, let’s say, they get to test what it’s like to work with you and the kind of value you can create. If it doesn’t work out, no harm, no foul.

Before taking the next step in your job search or professional development, I’d strongly suggest studying the sales tactics of some of the companies you buy from. What do they do? What can you learn from them?

And if you’re reading this and considering taking any of these ideas or trying one of your own, we’d love to hear about it and feature it. Email our editor at morgan [at] crash [dot] co!

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