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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    5-22-14 The Langley Merchants Survey – Who comes to Langley businesses?

    The City of Langley is an iconic little town.  There are nearly 100 business in Downtown Langley, all of them small independently-owned ones.  There are no chain stores.  Like all business communities, Langley wants to thrive economically.

    In previous blogs I’ve written a lot about knowing your target market, catering to that market and keeping track of who comes to your business and how they learned about you.

    I recently conducted the Langley Merchants Survey as a pilot project for the City of Langley to see if an inexpensive self-administered survey could get useful information for the business community as a whole, as well as for individual merchants.

    In my opinion, a lot was learned.  At a meeting at Ott & Murphy on May 22, 19 members of the business community attended a presentation I did describing the survey process and the results.  Those attending were overwhelmingly positive that the survey generated a lot of useful information and provided good ideas for ways the business community can promote itself.

    In future blogs I’ll share my observations about what was learned.  For now, I’ll just say you’ve heard a lot of it from me before: collaboration and customer service benefits all businesses.

    If you would like to have a copy of the survey report, contact Marc Esterly at the Langley Chamber of Commerce:


    5-15-14 It's important to ask, "How did you learn about my business?"

    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 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, 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.



    5-8-14 What is special or unique about your business?

    In my experience, before you can do a good job marketing your business, you have to know what is special or unique about what you sell and/or the way you do business.

    Some businesses are unique because there may be no one in the area selling what you have.  In that case, you have to be able to do a good job explaining what you have and why someone needs it.  And, you still have to offer good customer service so that people will come back and/or spread the word to others.

    Most businesses are selling a product or service that others are selling.  Are you a massage therapist?  Lots of people provide massages.  Are you selling clothing?  Lots of people sell clothing.  Are you a restaurant or café?  Lots of people have a food service business.

    So, the first thing I ask a business owner is: “What is special or unique about what you offer?”  It’s best to laundry-list as much as you can and really think about what is different about what you provide. Sometimes, the product may not be special, but the service certainly can be.

    It also helps to sit down with some of your staff to do the laundry-listing.  I’m a great believer that it’s easier for people participating in a group discussion to come up with creative ideas, than it is for an individual.

    Once you have defined all of the things that make your product or service special, you’ll have a much better concept of how to market yourself.


    5-1-14 Will someone notice your business if they’re just walking by? 

    We are just beginning to do data entry for completed Langley Merchants Survey questionnaires.

    As I was inputting responses yesterday, I noticed how often someone visiting Langley – whether a local person or from off-Island – marked “Just saw it walking by” in response to how they learned about a particular business.

    As I thought about it, I realized that what these visitors are saying is that something about the front of the business, or the window display, or sandwich boards outside drew them inside. 

    Having an appealing entrance and window displays that attract attention can play a significant role in bringing new people to your business.

    If you found something that helps draw new people to come into your store, I’ll appreciate hearing from you.



    4-24-14 The joy of telling a good story

    I usually talk about marketing in this Blog, but today I’m sharing the delight I am having pursuing my passion about sharing the passions of others.

    I have a wonderful Late-in-Life Love story that I tell about my husband, Rich, and me.  We’re happily celebrating 11-1/2 years of marriage at an age when many married people are celebrating 40 or 50 years of marriage.

    In telling my own story, I learned that meeting and marrying the love of your life in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and higher is really quite common today.  And, as I began to hear the stories and write them, I recognized the common themes – knew intuitively this was the person very quickly, best friends, don’t sweat the small stuff, lots of trust and support in the relationship.

    I just posted a new story today about Mike and Christine:

    I hope you will read this story, and the other ones I have posted, including my own:

    They are all delightful stories….enjoy!