Carolyn Browne Tamler

has helped hundreds of businesses and organizations with her thoughtful facilitation and research services. She also writes colorful and compelling articles about new business initiatives! Would this help you? Call Carolyn today!

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    p:| 360.222.6820
    c:| 425.351.7531

    f:| 360.222.6820

    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    8-17-17 How is a statistically valid survey done?

    We are hearing a lot of reports on surveys of public opinion right now, especially with all that is surrounding President Trump and the recent White Supremacist (that word is now being used instead of simply "racism") actions in Charlottesville. How do you know if the survey results are valid?

    How a sample is chosen and how a question is asked determine if a survey result will truly be providing projectable statistically valid data.

    A random sample means that everyone in a given population has an equal chance of being selected. Anything that alters this concept biases the results.

    If you sample everyone who is registered to vote—this will include a lot of people who will not vote.

    If you sample likely voters in a way that excludes certain elements of the population (such as neighborhoods with a lot of low-income or minority populations, or that will exclude many people who may be likely to vote, but were not included in the sample.

    If you sample using a self-select method (such as a Survey Monkey) it will exclude people who simply have no interest in responding.

    As part of the survey methodology, the survey company will want to have a screening question, (assuming they are using a list of registered voters) such as: “Are you planning to vote in the next election in your community?”

    And, surveys are a snapshot of the moment. If a major event happens that is widely reported in the news a few days before the polling is done, that will definitely affect the results.



    8-10-17 Blue Sound Music has a great marketing strategy: Fill a much-needed niche

    Many of the successful business on Whidbey are one-of-a-kind, selling products or services that are unique in the community.

    When a business that filled a niche leaves and a new business comes in to fill that void, there is often a customer base eager to respond.

    When Joe’s Music in Langley closed, many professional and amateur musicians were forced to travel off-island or up to Oak Harbor for their instruments and supplies.

    In May, Keegan Harshman opened Blue Sound Music on First Street in Langley, and if his first months in business are any indication, word has gotten around quickly to those who want to purchase instruments or supplies. He reports that people are coming by frequently to thank him for what he has done.

    Go to Whidbey Local to read the full story: Keegan Harshman brings a full service music store back to South Whidbey.



    8-3-17 On Whidbey Island, Word-of-Mouth is the Most Effective Advertising 

    If the source of most of your business is coming from the Whidbey community, providing good, friendly customer service is likely to grow your business better than any paid advertising.

    That’s why it is so important to do what you can to be sure that every customer, and potential customer, feels they have are noticed and have their questions and concerns addressed.

    I remember reading that if someone has a good experience they will tell a few friends; if they have a bad experience, they will tell everyone they cross paths with for days after that experience.

    The best form of promotion for your business is to be sure each customer will be singing your praises. Those songs will bring more people to you. Maybe even people from off-island.


    7-27-17 Would you like me to tell your business story?

    I am a story teller at heart. 

    A few years ago I got into writing stories about Whidbey businesses.  My professional background was as a marketing research and public involvement consultant.  Then I moved to Whidbey and was asked to write a couple of stories about marketing research for a local business magazine (Northwest Business Monthly, which no longer exists).  I don’t even remember now what first created my connection with the magazine. Then, I was asked to write stories about local businesses for that publication.  

    Somehow, the publisher of Whidbey Local, JoAnna Weeks, learned about my writing, and she asked me to do business stories for her on-line publication.  She encouraged me to write what I wanted, in my own style.  She has now branded me as the “Business Spotlight.”  Each week, she trusts me to choose a business, tell their story, and it is published without any editing (my husband is my “official” editor).

    I feel very privileged because I am having the delight of making my own choices and telling stories in my own way.

    I believe that what makes a business story appealing is knowing about the person or people who started the business.  I ask three basic questions: Why did they come to live on Whidbey? Why did they decide to create their business? What is special or unique about the product and/or services they provide?

    For me, a business story is really about the people behind the business.  If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact me:

    And, I invite you to check out a new story each week on The Business Spotlight on Whidbey Local:




    7-20-17 Creativity is often easier within a group

    I understand that many artists find their creative expression on their own. They have a creative concept for a piece of artwork or music, and they execute the idea on their own.

    However, it has been my experience that if you ask a single person to come up with a creative idea for a plan or a marketing concept, or simply a way to solve a problem, often there is a deer-in-the-headlights moment.

    That’s why I love bringing people together and facilitating a discussion that will generate creative ideas and solutions to problems. The most productive group number is 10; not sure why (in Jewish tradition 10 is a “minion” or the amount needed to have a formal meeting process), but this does seem to be the magic number where everyone feels comfortable about speaking up and sharing opinions and ideas. Less than 10, and sometimes the discussion isn’t quite as lively; more than 10, and it becomes a bit more difficult to control.  This is the basic concept behind doing a "focus group discussion."

    I do want to stress the need to have a good facilitator for a group process. It’s important that time is controlled, that the discussion stays focused and that everyone in the discussion feels comfortable speaking up.

    It’s also interesting to me that some of the most creative ideas coming out of someone in a group have been preceded by the phrase, “I really don’t know much about this, but……”

    To summarize: Bring people together in the group that have some kind of common interest (community, interests, knowledge, etc.); have an agenda that is followed as much as possible; create an atmosphere where everyone in the group feels comfortable speaking up; and make sure that no one individual dominates the conversation (I usually say something like, “I can see you feel strongly about this, now I’d like to hear what someone else has to say.”)