Four Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from Casinos

In order to market any enterprise successfully, you sometimes need to think outside the box. Using the same stale old tactics over and over soon stops delivering any tangible gain.

This becomes a problem even more with the rise of the concept of “Best Practices”. Pushed by eager consultants, businesses around the world started to analyze their peers and to adopt what they considered to be their winning practices.

Evidence for this is not only found in the physical world, with airlines, retailers, banks and the like looking more and more interchangeable. Even in the online-world, websites and landing pages have been optimized to a degree that they all use the same look and feel and phrases.

So in order to truly set yourself apart from competition, you have to look elsewhere for inspiration.

This has been addressed by Ramon Vullings and Marc Heleven in their book Not Invented Here: Cross-industry Innovation (read our book review here). They write

“Cross-industry innovation is a clever way to jump-start your innovation efforts by drawing analogies and transferring approaches between contexts, beyond the borders of your own industry, sector, area or domain.”

Hence, we’re not just talking about emulating industry rivals either, but about looking far beyond the normal scope of your horizon to find new and effective ways to promote your business. One type of organisation that’s very good at this is casinos, because of the intense competition in the sector – especially online.

This should come as little surprise when you think about it, for although gambling can deliver fantastic rewards, there always remains an element of risk – one that consumers need suitable enticement to accept.

Hence, players in the highly competitive industry of online casinos was forced to adapt some practices from completely different sectors in order to keep their business models viable and profitable.

Let’s take a look at how they do it, and how you can apply the lessons learned to your own efforts…

Offer cash alternatives

offer cash alternatives for customers

Source: Max Pixel

Few among us really want to part with our money, and this is something the gambling industry not only recognises but manages to work around. How? By substituting cash for chips. Although it’s an incredibly simple tactic, it helps people to dissociate themselves from the physical notes and coins they’re putting on the line, so they’re not as loathe to spend.

Other companies can emulate this method through credit or point systems, with currency earned through spending and then used to pay for additional products or services in the future.

An Online-version of such cash alternatives is to have website visitors pay with their attention. In order to receive a valuable piece of content (e.g. a short ebook or checklist) they  have to sign up for a mailing list or pay with a tweet.

Implement incentives

Giving individuals a little nudge in the right direction has always been a great way to get them buying, and one way casinos do this is through offering joining bonuses. These represent easy money and give people a chance to get a feel for the product before dipping into their own pockets. In fact, so widespread is this tactic that there are also sites like, which review and compare free spins and other offers available across casinos online.

Casinos allow you to keep what you win when using money and free spins from such offers, so that the consumer gets a positive taste for the service provided, has the opportunity to sample the games on offer and is encouraged to return at a later date.

In the physical world, a similar strategy is adopted by many gyms, which offer free tryout trainings. Many local businesses offer useful add-ons or discounts for new customers.

An example for a respective online-strategy is the freemium model. Service providers allow their customers to use a basic version of their service with limited functions for free. Thus, the customer gets used to the service and ideally connects it with other services he uses. This way, businesses can even achieve a strong customer lock-in with these free packages. Once the customer needs extended functionality, she is more likely to stay with the service she already uses and switch to the paid packages.

Shape the experience

Gambling is more than just an action; it’s an experience. This is something casinos do really well, with most of them seeking to positively shape the way their customers feel whilst they’re with them.

You can apply the same concept to a gym, for example, by offering your clients everything they need in one place: personal training, facilities for freshening up, and even healthy meals and supplements to help them stay on top of their fitness regime. The less opportunity there is for them to grow bored and/or look elsewhere for entertainment, the more likely they are to stick around and shop.

Make it easy to buy

Make it easy to buy

Source: Max Pixel

One final and fantastically simple lesson to learn from casinos is the importance of making it easy to buy. There’s a reason these enterprises have an ATM in every corner, and plenty of places to exchange foreign cash for a currency they can play.

So many businesses fail to realise this, and then limit themselves by relying on old technology or refusing to take card payments – don’t let yourself be one of them. Make it as simple and straightforward for your clients to purchase as you can and they’ll find it much harder to resist when a product you’re selling catches their eye.

So look around in your own business. How many steps has a potential customer to complete until she can finally make a purchase. Do you force a blog reader to register or to log into a comment system before she can leave a comment?  Is your contact information easily accessible von every single page of your website?


As these examples have shown, some industries do an exceptionally good job to gain, convert and retain customers at all stages of the customer journey. These practices are well worth a closer look. Often enough it’s not that difficult to transfer some of these practices to your business. It is not so much about the actual business process – it is more about the customer experience.