Marketing Review: Subliminal Audio for Self Improvement

May 1, 2008 by

20080501_subliminal_thumb.jpgWhat do you think of improving yourself using subliminal tapes and CDs?

This post is a sponsored review on subliminal tapes. Denise Adams approached me personally for the review on her website, subliminal tapes.” The site is promoting the products it is selling, the subliminal tapes and CDs. You can also see the demo here. For clarity, I will refer to the site as STSI from this point.

What am I reviewing here?
I am reviewing the STSI website and not the products. I am coming from exactly the same point of view as anyone of you, a potential customer having no information on the product. What I am going to do here is reviewing the business STSI is in and its marketing, particularly through its website.

For those of you who do not understand subliminal message, here is a statement about the subliminal message from the Wikipedia

A subliminal message is a signal or message embedded in another medium, designed to pass below the normal limits of perception. These messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious or deeper mind and later actions or attitudes.
~Subliminal message @ Wikipedia

What’s the challenge to market subliminal message?

One of the big challenges that STSI has is gaining the trust from the market. I read The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey recently. From the book I managed to know the terms of trust tax and dividend. Those are the factors that influence your success within any relationship. Marketing, as a way of building a relationship with potential customers, certainly needs us to be aware of these factors.

STSI worked in subliminal message industry, and I do see the industry is suffering a kind of trust tax. Simply looking for information on audio subliminal message in Wikipedia, I have been given with the following facts about the message.

Backmasking, an audio technique in which sounds are recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forwards, produces messages that sound like gibberish to the conscious mind. GaryGreenwald , a fundamentalist Christian preacher, claims that these messages can be heard subliminally, and can induce listeners towards, in the case of rock music, sex and drug use. However, this is not generally accepted as fact.

Following the 1950s subliminal message panic, many businesses have sprung up purporting to offer helpful subliminal audio tapes that supposedly improve the health of the listener. However, there is no evidence for the therapeutic effectiveness of such tapes.
~Subliminal message @ Wikipedia

As you see in the above paragraph, subliminal messages can be used for bad and good. Even more, the effectiveness for both are not fully accepted. There are still opposing opinions on the usage. That is the reason why I say that the trust in the industry is still quite low.

The messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, so the customer have really no idea on what they are listening from, they have to really depend on their trust. They must really trust that the person selling the messages really want to help them, no side effects and effective enough to help them. That is why I choose to review of ways to help STSI improves their credibility in the market.

r4s-review.jpgHow can STI increase its industry and company trust?
In the Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey put across 4 cores of credibility, those are integrity, intent, capabilities, and results. The first two belong to Character and the last two belong to the Competence. I will be reviewing STSI based on these two, how they can market their products through building trust from the market, especially by showing their authentic character and competence.

How STSI can boost their character trust

1. Money-back guarantee

STSI does not seem to have any logo, what you will see everywhere is the 100% satisfaction guaranteed symbol. Yes, STSI provides satisfaction guarantee, even with money back guarantee.

Personally, I do not believe in overnight self-improvement. I believe that it takes process, time and patience. Finding that STSI gives the money-back guarantee for 1 year, I find it fair enough to test out the product whether it is really beneficial. As how STSI put it, money back guarantee is useful to make the customers feel secure and confident with their product. Another impact: that also shows that they are confident enough with their product.

People may ask, “can we believe in the guarantee itself in the first place?” STSI do write some limitations on the money-back guarantee they make, namely not valid for both their custom-made messages and MP3. They do provide contact page for the customers to ask if they have any doubt.

The company itself must have taken their guarantee seriously. Web 2.0 and social media era have opened up the possibility of anyone reviewing their product. Any smelly product or behaviors will be easily find out by many in this information era, and that will even hurt the company and industry credibility even more.

2. Serve

STSI is building their brand through specifying what they are fighting for. It is similar as what Maki has suggested in his article on Dosh Dosh on branding your website with right villain. STSI has done pretty well job on this, they have stated the various purpose on using their audios, namely: Breaking Bad Habits, Freedom From Fears, Stress Management, Weight Loss, Brain Power and Romance. However, it needs to put more efforts on providing more information that is helpful to their visitors, especially in working through the mentioned areas.

Start making products, services, and stories that appeal to the reachable. Then do your best to build that group ever larger. Not by yelling at them, but by serving them.
~Seth Godin (Meatball Sundae)

Serving is what STSI lacks of. The whole website is made with the focus on the product. Since the first page you come, you will be handed with all the steps that you need to see to make a purchase decision, from the product info, benefit, price, demo, testimonials, guarantee, catalog, and shopping cart. The whole website is built as if the whole purpose is getting their products sold. This might be the yelling that Seth Godin is trying to refer to.

The website lack of the information that is purposely written to benefit the readers. That is serving, and it is necessary to reach the unreachable. Finding that their industry is taxed from the market, STSI need extra effort to change the market perception on subliminal audio. One way is providing useful information, to let their web visitors to understand and believe fully on the effectiveness of the product. This way STSI is able to reach and influence a bigger market.

Case Study
Jens P. Berget from has a similar observation on Cheerios website. Here is his compliment on the website…

They are doing what Apple have been doing for years. They are turning the focus away from their product and over to the people who are using their product.
~Jens P. Berget (Cheerios can help your creativity)

If you look into the Cheerios website, you will find that they are providing valuable information. From the homepage you are given with options on the information that you may need, especially for new parents, kids, families, and adults. They are focused on helping people how to find and build healthy lifestyle. For kids, they even make the page fun and interesting, together with games and other downloads. It is really an act of serving, they turn the focus away from their product into the people using their product. Interestingly, this way they make people talk about their website, such as Jens and I. Their site gains exposure from the unreachable.

I found this is very much applicable to STSI, they have the purpose at hand; they can make each of the individual benefit they have listed and provide more information with it. Let’s talk for Stress Management for example, STSI can provide much more information on stress, types of stress, how people handle stress, the food to reduce stress, and eventually the benefit of subliminal message to stress. This way, they are more focused on serving people with stress difficulty and turning their focus away from their product.

Cheerios branded the whole site with its logo and its product. That itself is a kind of subliminal message, an image that appears everywhere in the site; the cheerios is moving around making various shapes, and that certainly gain readers attention. Similarly, that will be great if STSI can build a logo, something that people will remember while browsing their site.

How STSI can boost their competence trust

1. Testimonial story

STSI has put a number of testimonials in their site. They have included some FAQ section and links to relevant articles as well. Unfortunately, many of the links to the relevant news are broken. Hope it will be fixed soon, broken link will not only prevent STSI to show its competence, it will tax their integrity and credibility as well. Subliminal message must have been popular right now, even more with many NLP and other techniques that emphasize on the power of subconscious mind. These must have been followed with many news. That will be great stories that can be put together to the website.

Seth Godin talks a lot about stories as well; in his words…

Stories spread, not facts. People just aren’t that good at remembering facts. When people do remember facts. It’s almost always in context.
~Seth Godin (Meatball Sundae)

Stories need to be added in STSI. Those stories does not even have to be testimonial stories related to the STSI product. Any good stories on the impact of subliminal audio on self improvement will be useful to increase the market trust. As STSI is the one providing the information, many people will link to their site, and eventually STSI presence as information provider in self-improvement subliminal audio will be known.

2. Authority figure

It is good if STSI can also include stories given by any well-respected public figures. Those that have been supporting subliminal message all along. What I have in mind right now is Eckhart Tolle with his book on subconsciousness and spiritual awakening, A New Earth. However, I’m not going to talk about him, I am going to talk about how he has benefited from Oprah to reach an unreachable market for his book. Those are the Christians.

Case Study:
I started listening to Oprah-Eckhart podcast out of curiosity, I wanted to know what the book is all about, why this person named Eckhart Tolle has become very popular and why many people and blogs talk about him. In the first episode, knowing that Eckhart call God unconsciousness has turned me off and made me on my guard. However, there is one interesting question came in, it was actually the very first question that was broadcasted. It was a question from a Catholic mother, asking about how she can reconcile the concept in the book to the Christian faith.

I do not remember very much of the answer, but I do observe Oprah herself takes a decision to reconcile the book and her faith. She makes use of the wisdom given in this book but she is not letting go of her faith. That I find it inspiring, and makes me looking forward to learn more from this book. After listening to many episodes after, I do find that my opinion is similar as what student99 (Alan) has posted here.

What I am trying to say here, Eckhart has boosted both his competence and character trust to reach Christian community, thanks to Oprah. Oprah is an authority figure by many people. As a Christian, she has become a role model to many Christians as well. The people who used to be unreachable to this kind of concept, is now listening to this concept, even open and willing to give it a try. That is an example of the impact of using an authority figure in marketing.

This is a way that STSI can benefit from, if they want to reach a bigger market. STSI has made a step, at least it is what STSI is trying to do when it is contacting bloggers like me to do some review.

3. The Sendaball effect
This is a concept that I know thanks to Seth Godin and his Meatball Sundae. The example is taken from Send-A-Ball, and Seth Godin call it the Sendaball effect. The concept is letting the product itself into the advertisement and marketing technique. Instead of sending the CD and tapes for their own usage, STSI can provide them as gifts, to be sent to customer’s friends and relatives. If it is really beneficial, they will spread the word about the product. Send-A-Ball has got a great result from this effect, every single order has a 40 percent chance of leading the recipient to log on and send another order to someone else. I believe STSI can try to experiment with this, and find out if it’s really a good type of marketing for them, if not now maybe in the future.

Now it’s easier than ever for organizations not to rely on external forces but to build the marketing right into the product itself.
~Seth Godin (Meatball Sundae)

A disclaimer note

What I am reviewing here is the website and the marketing potential in STSI. In this review, I am not approving in any way of their product.

My personal opinion on subliminal message is neutral. It is just a tool. You can think of a scissor as an example. It can be used to create a beautiful art, while on another person’s hand, it can be used to hurt people. The question is how effective this tool is for the self-improvement? This is what I believe STSI must prove and show to have a successful marketing.

I will leave STSI with the following two paragraphs taken from Maki’s article at Dosh Dosh, stating what a successful internet marketing really is…

When we talk about marketing on the web, we’re talking about selling a perceived benefit/value by communicating in a way which suits and modifies your target market’s interests/needs. Some theorists will also suggest that marketing (and advertising) is in the business of creating new needs or wants.

It’s not about fulfilling the existing needs of customers out there but the reinforcing of those needs by selling them ideals. Your aim is to associate your brand with a vision, one that integrates with and enhances each customer’s individual life goals. Buyer desires are transient and they can change but ideals do not shift as easily.

~Maki-Dosh Dosh (Ideals and Promises: Selling an Achieavable Dream to Your Target Market)

For your success,

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  1. Hi Robert

    What a great review! I think this must be one of the most detailed reviews I have ever read.

    I have been fairly interested in subliminal messages, especially during the years of Judas Priest and Twisted Sisters (sometime during the 80’s) 🙂

    I haven’t paid much attention to it recently, but now, I might actually start all over again 🙂

    Thanks for quoting me and linking to my blog.

  2. “Thank you for your informative post. Its interesting to know that subliminal cds can have this effect. This website at has a lot of subliminal products. How about giving it a try. “

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