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Lesson #26



In this lesson, we will explore the powerful strategy of placing links to individual products appropriately in the content of your Website. SFI's New Veriuni Store allows you to link directly to individual products. In this lesson, we discuss how to place such links effectively.


On a rainy afternoon a few weeks back, I was watching a rerun episode of the television show ER. In this episode, Dr. Mark Green had taken his dying father home to keep him comfortable and to visit with him for the final hours of his life. There were several touching scenes of the interaction between this doctor and his dying father. In one of those scenes, Dr. Green was sponge bathing his father's back. The father stated that it used to be his job to bathe Mark, when Mark was an infant. On its emotional level, this scene dramatically revealed two adult men becoming aware of their dependence upon the other at helpless times in their lives. Meanwhile, on the surface level, the conversation between them turned to the brand of soap that Mark's father had used on Mark when he was an infant.

For several moments this dramatic and tear-jerking scene brought the brand name of a soap to the viewing public's attention. It did so at a time when the viewers were drawn into tender feelings that are rarely acknowledged in everyday life. It did so at a time when the viewers were forced to acknowledge that we are all at times helpless and dependent on the love and care of others. In effect, this scene equated the brand name of a soap with the purest of kind of love and care. It equated this brand of soap as the instrument needed to express the love and care necessary at both the beginning and the end of life.

Powerful stuff!

I haven't done the research on this, but we have to assume that the promoter of that brand of soap paid a pretty penny for use of that brand name in that scene in that fashion.


From the use of Reese's Pieces in the Movie ET, to the discussion of Ivory soap in ER, through the multitude of products featured in the latest James Bond movie; products have been successfully promoted by "placement" in the scenes of movies and television shows for several years now. Any time a character enters a diner and orders a cola, whether they order a Coke or a Pepsi, that scene can impact sales of that product for the entire life of the movie (which winds up in many people's homes on VHS or DVD after its run in the movie theaters). Research confirms that sales of the featured products dramatically increase after a successful placement in a popular movie. We can expect to see more and more of this in the future as "product placement" has proven itself to be an extremely effective marketing technique.

Product placement is an aspect of the "branding" strategy. "Branding" refers to making a brand name and logo well-known and associated with positive feelings. When product placement occurs in movies, unless the product is popcorn, candy, or cola (which are sold in the movie theater lobby), the viewer has no immediate opportunity to buy the featured product. Movies lack the capacity to "close" a sale; they can only make a product seem more desirable when a later opportunity to purchase arises.

You may have also noticed that most television commercials are of the "branding" type. While there are a few commercials that give you hard information about a product, explaining factually why you should buy it; most commercials spend their 15 to 60 seconds just trying to make you feel good and associate that good feeling with their product. They are hoping you will remember that good feeling next time you are at the store and see their product.

You may be wondering what this has to do with Internet marketing. Only the top 50 or so Websites on the Internet would stand much of a chance of negotiating significant money for "placement" of products in their content. So, why discuss it here? We discuss it here because understanding product placement lays the foundation for understanding the most powerful aspect of Internet marketing: in-context product links.


Imagine a middle-class couple who have decided they want to take up canoeing. They enjoy and respect nature, like to be outdoors, and want to instill this enjoyment and respect of nature in their children. Wanting to learn as much about canoeing and water safety as they can before their first adventure, they turn to the Internet to find information.

Marketers like it when behavior can be predicted. It is very easy to predict the behavior of this couple on the Internet. They will most likely go to one of the popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo! and search for "canoeing." They will then peruse the sites that come up and look for ones that have lots of good information about canoeing and are easy to read and to navigate. If you have a good site on canoeing that is ranked well in the search engines, they will likely spend some time on your site.

Knowing what this couple is likely to do demonstrates the unprecedented marketing power of the Internet. Those desiring to sell canoes, canoe books, canoe magazines, canoe trailers, canoe carts, paddles, life preservers, ice boxes, dry boxes, and related camping gear want to find this couple--or more accurately, they want this couple to find their products. Since this couple's Internet behavior can be predicted, the Internet becomes the best place to present these products to them at the time when they are most interested.

Our earlier discussion above of product placement in movies and television gives us insight into HOW these products can best be presented to this couple and others like them on a Website. The obvious way would involve straightforward discussion of products needed, the features of the different brands, and a link to purchase the promoted brand. The better way, however, would be to mention the products (and include the links to purchase them) in context of other discussions and stories about canoeing. It would be powerful to have a story about turning your canoe over one day but your valuables, being safely stored in a BrandX drybox, were saved. It would be powerful to describe how you were able to reach that exotic launch area because you had the right canoe cart.

Consider the following which might appear on a canoeing Website:

". . . When my wife and I first decided to take up canoeing, we were lost until we got our first issue of <a href= Item.vstore?id=170>Canoe and Kayak Magazine</a>. We would have overlooked many important preparations for our first trip had we not read a few issues of this great magazine first."

This example contains a direct product link to purchase this magazine subscription from my SFI Veriuni Store Gateway site. The link is very easy to set up. Just go to your Veriuni Store Gateway (your main SFI "home" gateway). Then find the product page for your chosen product. Just copy the URL of that page from the address line of your browser, and place this URL in your content within an HTML anchor tag as illustrated above. You can also link to a specific department within the Veriuni Store by using this same technique.

For linking to departments, the Veriuni Store uses a department template page and a CGI variable to identify the department to display. For linking to specific products, the Veriuni Store uses a product template page and a CGI variable to identify which product to display. In both cases, the CGi variable is in the form of a number. In both cases, the variable is named "id."

Thus, to link to a department:

1. Start typing in your Gateway address as usual, followed by your SFI-ID.
2. Then, after the forward slash, put "Department.vstore" followed by a question mark and "id=[the department id number]" (without the quotes). Department.vstore is the name of the department template page. The value of the CGI variable "id" tells the page which department to display.

CGI variables are always identified by a question mark. After the question mark comes the name of the variable (in this case "id"), followed by the equal (=) sign, followed by the value of the variable.

To link to a specific item:
1. Start typing your gateway address as usual, followed by your SFI-ID.
2. Then, after the forward-slash, put "Item.vstore" followed by a question mark and "id=[the item id number]" (without quotes). Item.vstore is the name of the item template page.

I see that the ID number for the Canoe and Kayak Magazine page is 170. Since I want to link to an item, I use "Item.vstore?id=170" at the end of my URL.

If you were not an SFI affiliate, it would still be possible to set up a multitude of specific affiliate agreements on your own, but as we discussed in Lesson 6 of this online course, it is way too much trouble to keep up with all of that. The Veriuni Store takes care of everything and keeps everything current for you.

Bringing products to life is the way to sell products. Demonstrating how the products integrate with and effect real-life situations in a positive way is the key to creating a need for the product in the mind of your customer. When you can do that and provide a link to a sales page for the product at the same time, you have something really powerful.

The Internet is such a powerful vehicle for selling products because it can do three important things at the same time. It can 1) isolate the target market (those interested in canoeing can easily find the Website); 2) create a need and desire to purchase the product (your story gives them a real-life example of the need for the product); and 3) provide an immediate means of closing the sale (you can have a link to purchase the magazine right in the story on your Website).

The Nutrition Blog we discussed in the last lesson is also an excellent example. The Veriuni Store sells great nutritional supplements. You could include in-context links to these products in the content of your Health and Nutrition Blog.


If nothing you have read to date has inspired you to jump into affiliate marketing on the Internet with both feet, this should. Just think about how powerful the Internet has made individuals working from home with only limited resources. Canoeing may not be your thing. Nutrition may not be your thing. BUT SOMETHING IS! We have all had experiences that would be valuable to other people. All you have to do is write about those experiences on your Website and appropriately place affiliate links to the products in your story. If you are not good at writing or know little about Website building, there are services available at Websites such as or to take your knowledge and convert it into Internet content for you.


An individual working from home with limited resources can do something very powerful that even movies and television shows cannot do. You can create the need for the product and close the sale all at the same place and the same time. Using the techniques you have learned in this course, you can acquire a Website on a subject known to you. Then, using the techniques you have learned in this course, you can acquire some ranking for that Website in the search engines. By placing direct product links to products in your Veriuni Store in a manner that brings those products to life, you can effectively sell products and build an income with the SFI affiliate program at the same time. These are very powerful tools you have at your disposal.


In our next lesson, we will revisit the subject of Spam and discuss the "Can-Spam Act of 2003," a new federal law in the United States designed to deal with spam.

by George Little
Copyright (year) Panhandle On-Line, Inc.
License granted to Carson Services, Inc. for distribution to SFI affiliates. No part of this work may be republished, redistributed, or sold without written permission of the author.

For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see

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