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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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    6-22-17 The marketing power of having someone focus on you when you enter a store

    (Note: I published this story exactly a year ago.  I thought it was worth publishing it again.)

    We just came back from a lovely visit to Victoria, BC. We were only there for a day, but it was long enough to walk around the Downtown area and visit some of the shops. Granted, we were in a heavy tourist area and most of the businesses were going after tourist dollars.

    Still, I was impressed with at least two stores we wandered into where I really had no plan to purchase anything and did buy something. In each case, as soon as I walked into the store, I was greeted with a smile and an offer of help, and I was made to feel that I was the most important person to walk in the store that day. The person greeting me described some of the special products they offered and seemed very sincere in providing information and answering questions.

    I ended up purchasing some tea and some English biscuits (cookies, in case you’re not familiar with the term). And, I had no intention of buying either as I was walking down the street.

    Never forget how important it is to make a potential customer feel important.


    6-15-17 A great example of filling a niche: Moonraker Books, the wonderful real bookstore, in Langley  

    I have done several blogs about how filling a niche is a great contributor to a successful business. There is a business that has been in Langley for 45 years and is still thriving...for many reasons.

    Moonraker Books is a real bookstore, with great displays of real books arranged in a very appealing and educational way. Despite all of the emphasis on modern technology which is focused on virtual books, old-fashioned bookstores are having a resurgence.

    I admit that I love the feel of a real book in my hands; a Kindle just doesn’t do it for me. And, I’m not alone.

    A story was just published on Whidbey Local, where I write the weekly “Business Spotlight,” that gives some of the background and story to how Josh Hauser, and her husband, Glen, (who passed away a few years ago) created Moonraker Books.

    I invite you to read the story….and then pay a visit to Moonraker Books on 1st Street in Downtown Langley.

    Moonraker Books in Langley: In this digital age, there has been a resurgence of interest in books you can hold


    6-8-17 Ask people how they learned about your business: Another Simple Way to Learn More About Your Customers

    When someone comes into your store, or contacts you to purchase your product or service, be sure to ask how they found out about your business---and, keep track of what you learn.

    If you are already doing this…..that’s great! 

    Are you keeping a record of what you learn?

    Asking this question and keeping a record of the responses is important, so that you can see where to place your energy and marketing dollars to promote your business. 

    On South Whidbey, word-of-mouth seems to be one of the most important sources of business, but we also have newspapers, emails, Drew’s List, (and let’s not forget the “Business Spotlight”), bulletin boards, brochures, and promotions for non-profits (hopefully, you’ve heard me mention businesses that support the Whidbey Children’s Theater, for example).

    When you have a sale or any kind of special promotion, it is especially important to keep track of what brings potential customers to you.

    Be aware also, that advertising and promotion that works well may vary.  It is not uncommon for something to work great for a while, and then suddenly not be as effective in generating business for you. 

    That’s why it’s so important to continue to check on what works, and if something isn’t working as well as it used to, try something new.


    6-1-17 Obtaining zip codes: A simple tool to learn about your customers

    One of the most basic pieces of information you need when you have a store front business or a business out of your home is knowing where your customers live.

    A simple method to answer this question is to create a system where you get the zip code of every person who comes into your business or contacts you to make a purchase.  This can be done on a computer or by doing listings and hatch marks on a piece of paper near your register (OK, I know this doesn’t sound very high-tech, but it works).

    You can keep track of these zip code tabulations by the month or season, or after you have done a new advertisement or special promotion.

    On Whidbey, I believe it’s especially important to know what proportion of your customers are local (and which are nearby vs. coming some distance to your business), and what proportion of visitors are from off-island.

    Once you see the patterns, it can provide you with valuable information about where, geographically, to focus your advertising dollars. To build your local customer base, remember that you need to do everything you can to make each person who comes to your business feel welcome.



    5-25-17 An email that was misunderstood and created a whirlwind of confusion

    I am on the Board of a local non-profit. Recently, a staff person in the organization sent around an email saying that her husband would be helping with a volunteer job (a very helpful job, by the way). I, without thinking, immediately sent back a little note – seen by everyone on the group list – joking (I thought) about nepotism. I even included an imoji.

    A flurry of group emails followed, where she explained that her husband was volunteering and in no way would be benefiting from this. I sent apologies (and I phoned a personal apology to her). Someone even sent a snarly comment about my humor to the group.

    The biggest joke of all is that I need to read my own Blogs. I have actually written about the subject of misunderstood emails and texts on more than one occasion. Here was a Blog I posted last year. The only thing missing is “Don’t use imoji’s to communicate”:

    2-25-16 Emails and texts can create lots of misunderstandings

    Have you received an email with several misspellings or grammatical errors?

    Have you had numerous text exchanges with someone and finally gave up and made a phone call to resolve something?

    Have you received a group email that got sent around several times to several people, including you?

    Do you find yourself sometimes struggling to get through a long email, only to reach the end and realize you’re still not sure what it was all about?

    Have you sent an email or a text assuming the other person would understand your words and your tone, only to get a response back that didn’t really relate to your intentions?

    I’m sure you can come up with several other items to put on this list. In our high speed communication age, we rapidly email and text and tweet several times a day….but are we really communicating?  There are some disagreements about how much human communication is non-verbal, but I think that we all can agree that lacking voice intonation, facial expression, body language and simply feeling another person’s energy, words alone will not necessarily convey thoughts accurately.

    I have a bit of a silly streak in me (those who know me might say it is more than a bit). I learned a long time ago never to use my silliness in an email unless I was absolutely sure that the person knew me well enough to understand the communication (and I’m not sure it’s wise to send anyone a silly email). Of course, I can add an imogi, but……

    So, here are a few suggestions to avoid misunderstandings when emailing or texting:

    • Keep it short and simple
    • If at all possible, save your sincere, serious communications for in-person or by phone
    • Read every email over before you press “Send”
    • If you are sending out a longer email or something with important information, make sure you have someone else read it before you send it
    • If you are feeling angry or frustrated with someone, DO NOT send them an email or text and let them know this; cool down first, and then make a phone call
    • If you are sending an email to a group of people, use the bcc, even if everyone knows each other; it will seem more personal and it will be impossible for someone else to press the “Reply all” and send out swirling emails that can drive us crazy.

    I know I sound very old-fashioned, but I like to reserve serious communication for when I’m talking directly to someone.