As more people start new businesses each year, they look for the best ways to market themselves. Some adopt traditional marketing approaches while others try something a little creative. It’s usually the latter that offers the best return on investment, believe it or not.

People tend to notice a brand more if they do stuff out of the ordinary. When that happens, their exposure skyrockets! Here are some examples of how startups used creative marketing to build successful brands:

Creative Marketing

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Hotmail

Many people that use the free Outlook.com email service will remember the Hotmail days. Back in the 90s, Hotmail launched as the world’s first free Web-based email provider. It became so popular that it soon got bought by the mighty Microsoft for $400 million.

The reason for Hotmail’s success wasn’t down to it being the world’s first Web email provider. It was down to how it marketed itself. Believe it or not, its users were the ones that helped market the brand!

A signature at the end of each message sent through Hotmail invited people to sign up for the service. Since adding that signature, the service gained a million subscribers in only six months!

Uber

Here’s an example of how a company uses the offline world to market its brand in a creative way. Uber, as you know, is a leading personal transport service. They give people an easy way to book and pay for taxi services in many parts of the world.

Uber uses special events to its advantage in the offline world. For instance, on Valentine’s Day people can use taxis to get flowers delivered to lovers. And on hot summer days, they even deliver ice creams to customers!

The company also embraces an iconic offline branding campaign. It’s something that many other firms also follow. Take, for example, the Shofur company profile. Check it out to see how bright and poignant their bus advertising is! Even other transport brands like Greyhound have followed suit.

Spotify

A British startup, Spotify used a unique and creative way to reach out to its now prominent U.S. market. The streaming music provider offered heavy integration with Facebook. Doing so allowed the friends of Spotify users to see what music they were listening to.

Of course, curious friends wanted to try out the service for themselves. And so started the course of viral marketing through social media for the firm. Today, Spotify is still the leading music streaming service. Especially in the face of competitors like Apple Music and Deezer.

They still use Facebook as a form of creative advertising for their service. And it still works out well for them!

Dropbox

Almost everyone that uses a computer these days will use the Dropbox storage service. There are two keys to their success. The first is how they offer a free account that provides 2GB of space.

The second is offering those free users the chance to get more space for free. How? By doing things like sharing referral links with their friends. In essence, they use affiliate marketing to grow their audience. They know that it’s likely many of those new users will upgrade to “Pro” or Business accounts.