Get on the good side of prospective customers. Be seen where they are in a good mood. They’re more likely to buy your product, research shows. It’s the Halo Effect of being associated with people, products or situations that make them happy.

My friend, for example, gets excited about her upcoming vacation after she finds a fellow dog lover at peer-to-peer pet sitting service. Your company could provide tips and a special offer to members on that site, along with other non-competing companies that serve dog owners. Rather than advertising, you are demonstrating your expertise, offering tips and answering questions in the forum and chat rooms.

You are seen in the company of reputable non-profits. That’s a credibility and visibility-building template that can be adapted to serve other niche markets, including yours perhaps.

How could people in your niche market help each other if they had a place to swap help or information? Online peer-to-peer communities are popping up all over to serve people in a specific situation, including college students, cyclists, and those with food allergies.

Be seen at an online community that serves of your kind of customers
Here’s another example. To reach young, frugal and adventuresome travelers, Lonely Planet and Nike, Yelp and other companies might suggest that the peer-to-peer site CouchSurfing add a for-profit Gear Shop that sells their products at special prices for members. Yelp could propose a Helpful Links feature that includes them and other for –profit and not-for-profit services that cost-conscious travelers might like.

Become More Well-Known in Your Local Niche Market

Could your kind of customers benefit from a peer-to-peer site where they could trade services or products? If so, and one exists you could:
• Pay for the right to make a special offer on the web site.
• Suggest the site include a blog with tips from experts, including businesses such as yours.
• Help the site owners attract new members by providing your product to:
Leverage Your Knowledge of Your Niche to Create a New Business

If such a peer community does not yet exist you could start one. Then you’d get to choose the non-profit services and the non-competing other reputable businesses to feature on your site. The costs of operating the site could be covered by the other businesses that pay to play. As the founder of this online community you can be seen as an industry expert for your key media to interview.

For example, if you sell to local parents of young kids, you could launch a peer-to-peer baby-sitting community, an update of a baby-sitting coop. Partner with a web designer with social media expertise to create this new business. You have knowledge of the niche market and the designer knows how to build and maintain the site.

Grow Your Web Design Business

Alternatively, if you are a web designer, consider specializing in designing and maintaining online peer-to-peer communities. You have two lucrative choices. You either:

1. Design and own the site, recruiting local businesses to pay to play.

2. Offer to design and maintain a site for a local business – thus creating a new profit center for that owner. Then that entrepreneur would recruit non-competing business to participate.

Either way you provide your clients with the peace of mind that comes from your maintaining the site.

And your peer-to-peer community expertise enables you to stand out from other web designers. Plus you’ll get recurring revenue for the maintenance and community manager role you play. Next, take our template to serve the same niche elsewhere. Since many of these online communities serve a local market – say parents of young children in one city – you could cookie-cutter your community and offer the same niche-serving template to small business owners in other towns.

Author's Bio: 

Speaker Bio: Kare Anderson’s TED talk on The Web of Humanity: Be an Opportunity Maker has attracted over 2.5 million views. She is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal journalist, now a speaker on connective behavior and quotability. Her TEDx talk on Redefine Your Life Around a Mutuality Mindset is now a standard session for employees and invited clients at 14 national and global corporations. Her ideas have been cited in 16 books. Her clients are as diverse as Salesforce, Novartis, and The Skoll Foundation. She was a founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown and co-founder of nine women’s political PACs. For Obama's first presidential campaign she created over 208 issues formation teams. She was Pacific Telesis' first Cable TV and Wideband Division Director and a founding board member of Annie's Homegrown. Kare is the author of How We Can Be Greater Together, Opportunity Makers, Mutuality Matters, Moving From Me to We, Beauty Inside Out, Walk Your Talk, Getting What You Want, and Resolving Conflict Sooner. She serves on the boards of The Business Innovation Factory, TEDxMarin, and World Affairs Council Marin.