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!

RSS Feed
Subscribe by Email
This form does not yet contain any fields.

    p:| 360.222.6820
    c:| 425.351.7531

    f:| 360.222.6820

    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

    Make Good Use of Your Sidebar

    Use this space for anything from simple blocks of text to powerful widgets, like our Twitter and Flickr widgets. Learn more.

    To access Website Management, hit the 'esc' key or use this Login link.




    5-23-13 Actively participating in your community is great marketing

    One of the most noticeable aspects of living on Whidbey is how much we are a true community.

    I have lots of ideas for marketing a business, but perhaps the simplest and most rewarding way to build a business here on the island is to become fully engaged in what needs to be done to help out.

    Recently, my husband and I participated in Hearts & Hammers, where 500 people come together for one day to help more than 40 homeowners do repairs and maintenance.  The day couldn’t happen without the many businesses that offer discounted prices for materials or simply donate time and labor for the projects.  I certainly take note of all of the business names I hear and promise myself that I’ll send business their way whenever I can.

    Lynn and Blake Willeford, owners of The Clyde Theater, feature a Magic Change Jar, where they collect and match donations for different charities.  People love to go to their local, single-screen movie theater, and it’s also great to know that you can have an evening of entertainment and contribute to a worthy local charity at the same time..

    I recently had a conversation with Angela Vosburg, co-owner with husband Jack Ng of the China City Restaurants in Oak Harbor and Freeland.  In the past, they have held events to benefit individuals needing help; they sponsor the Golf Tournaments and other Chamber activities, host garage sales that benefit local organizations, encourage employees to volunteer, and have made a commitment to being a significant contributor to numerous local non-profits.

    Playing a visible role in helping others in your community not only spreads the word about the many valuable organizations that support the life of the community, but it also lets people know you care.  It also happens to be a smart way to market your business name and what you provide.

    (Please note: I used these three instances as examples, but Whidbey is full of businesses that make significant contributions to our community.)



    5-16-13 A Focus group is more than just bringing people together to talk

    I hear the term “Focus group” used a lot, but often it just describes having some kind of discussion about a topic.  A focus group is a valuable subjective marketing research tool….when it follows the proper methodology.

    A focus group brings together 10 to 12 people to participate in a 90-minute discussion about a specific topic. The participants should be representative of the total population from which they are drawn. 

    A professional moderator leads the conversation, following a prepared outline (“Discussion Guide”).  All opinions and responses are valid, and only one person speaks at a time.  The moderator keeps everyone focused on the topic and directs the conversation in a productive way.  A good moderator encourages all participants to share and will discretely steer the discussion away from someone who begins to dominate.  The goal is to empower people to feel safe about contributing their own opinions and ideas.

    The discussion is recorded, and the moderator reviews the comments and prepares a report that describes the opinions and awareness of people about the subject area and draws some conclusions about the ideas where there was a consensus.

    I nearly always use at least one focus group discussion to develop an effective survey questionnaire for a random sample survey.

    The result of a good focus group discussion is a surprising wealth of information that can be utilized for gaining new ideas and fresh perspectives and making planning decisions.



    5-9-13 How do you decide what questions to ask in a survey?

    The basic purpose for conducting a survey is to gain information to help with planning and marketing decisions.  Whether your business involves a product or a service, having reliable information about what your customers want is essential.   A survey is an objective tool for obtaining this information through asking questions to a sample of your current or potential customers.

    Unless you have a clear goal in mind for using the results of your survey it’s difficult to create questions to get the information you need.  Ask yourself, and others who will be using the information you’re gathering, what you want to know to make future decisions.

    I often do a planning workshop at the beginning of a survey process to be sure there is consensus about what information is truly needed.

    A focus group* is an excellent tool for identifying what questions you will want to ask and what kinds of answers you are likely to receive.  This is especially important if you are having closed-end questions – i.e. questions that have three or four possible responses.  I think it also helps to provide an “Other” response, with a space to include something, just in case there is a significant topic that was overlooked.

    Creating productive questions requires knowing where you really want input and where you are willing to make changes or do something different to better serve the needs of your customers.

    And, there’s no point in asking any question unless you can use the information you’ll gain from the results.

    If you’re thinking about doing a survey, give me a call, and we can talk about your goals.

    *Note: I'll talk about focus group discussions in my next Blog.



    5-2-13 What creates a valid survey?

    First, let’s be clear: If a survey is valid, that means the results apply to the entire population from which the sample is drawn, within a stated margin of error.

    The word “survey” is used a lot, but pay attention to whether the term “Statistically valid” is attached.

    A lot of non-reliable information gets passed off as a “survey.”  With Survey Monkey and other simple ways of sending out questionnaires available on line, it’s easy to believe that if you just send out a survey on the internet, it will produce reliable information.

    If someone chooses to respond to an on-line survey, which by definition is a “self-select” survey,  this is not a statistically valid process.

    Telephone interview surveys are still considered to be the most cost-effective way of getting statistically valid information.  There is a margin of error, based upon the size of the sample (generally, a minimum sample of 200 is the industry standard for reliable data about any population segment).  Even with the advent of cell phones, there are companies that create accurate phone lists that marketing research companies purchase.  Overall, random sample telephone interview surveys provide reasonably accurate information about the population from which the sample is drawn.

    Then, there’s the matter of how questions are asked… week’s Blog.


    4-25-13 I am now doing stories for the Whidbey Weekly 

    I have written about businesses that are filling a niche.  On Whidbey, where there seems to be a force that leads you and you learn to follow it, I am creating a niche as a writer about businesses and entrepreneurs on Whidbey.

    My first place for publishing these stories was the on-line Examiner.Com site where I am the Whidbey Island Life Examiner; then I was asked to write stories for the on-line Whidbey Local and have been officially designated The Business Buzz .

    Now, in addition to these two on-line sites, I am in print doing the Business Spotlight for the Whidbey Weekly (formerly the Whidbey Marketplace).  The stories appear every two weeks; the most recent story was about Midway Florist, published on Wednesday, April 18.  On May 1, there will be a story about Bayview Blinds.

    I’m enjoying filling this niche.  Others do write about businesses on Whidbey, but I believe that I tell the stories with a different slant because I enjoy the human interest elements and personal stories behind the business stories.

    If you are a business person who feels you have a special story to tell, I’d enjoy hearing from you.