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

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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    9-20-12 Why do a survey?

    It seems like I get a Survey Monkey, or some similar kind of email survey, at least a couple of times a month.  As someone who has written hundreds of marketing research surveys in my professional life, I am often bemused at the lack of focus and the inhibiting types of possible responses I see.  The maverick in me often wants to provide an answer that’s different than what I’m offered.

    The major question I always ask myself is “What is the purpose of this survey?”  In other words, what will be done with the information that is gathered, and how accurate will the material be that is collected?

    The most common purpose for doing a survey is a need to gather information about a group of people – often customers or potential customers – that will impact how you market your product.  If the responses to a question do not fit this purpose, they should not be included. 

    And, if you do not have a clear purpose for doing a survey in the first place, why waste the time and energy?



    9-13-12 Neil’s Clover Patch Café in Bayview is a great example of how selling local products builds a strong, loyal customer base

    Since I moved to Whidbey Island seven years ago, I have seen an increasing emphasis on selling local products and promoting “buy local.”  In this small community, I believe that offering local products is one of the smartest business practices. It helps local businesses to thrive and sends a message that any business that promotes “buy local” really has an investment in the community.

    A great example of this concept is Neil’s Clover Patch Café just off Highway 525 in Bayview.  Neil’s has been an institution on Whidbey since 1983.  Owner Neil Colburn makes a practice of buying as much produce, eggs and beef as he can from people he knows on Whidbey.

    He promotes his ethic with the statement: “Our goal is local, healthy, delicious and affordable food!”

    Currently, his restaurant is featuring beef from Long’s and Three Sisters, eggs and produce from Camille’s Raven & Spade, greens from Molly’s Island Garden, Screaming Banshee Bread, cheese from Little Brown Farm, and produce and products from other local farmers.  Neil says, “I love knowing which cow is the source of the beef I am serving.”  And, he adds:  “We love our farmers and look forward to continuing to expand our local and affordable focus.” 

    In his more than 30 years in business, Neil has made a strong commitment to buy products from local people, but in the last year, he has ramped up his efforts.  He is a strong believer in the slow food movement (a commitment to the community and the environment), and he notes that “People are impressed with the high quality of the food I serve.” 

    He began buying local because “It is the right thing to do.”  Much of the customer feedback he receives reinforces the value of buying local.  Neil Colburn appreciates that the right thing to do also is building his customer base. 


    Neil's Clover Patch Cafe is also featured in on the Whidbey Island Life Examiner.


    9-6-12 Creating a safe space for constructive ideas

    Several years ago, I was asked to do a planning workshop with two naturopathic doctors and a receptionist to assess how things were working in their office.  With only three people I didn’t understand why they didn’t just talk with each other.

    During our workshop, the receptionist timidly mentioned that she didn’t know what to do when one of the doctors was running late for the next appointment.  The doctors were surprised that she had never brought this up to them.  The result was that a specific policy was developed to deal with the situation.  There were several other small policy and operational items that were also discussed and most problems were resolved.

    What I have learned in my years of facilitating workshops, discussions and public meetings is that, when asked, everyone wants to contribute and share and know others are hearing them.  Often, the smaller the group, the more difficult it is to express a concern because there is a fear of saying something that will be hurtful or expressing an opinion that might be seen as “dumb.”  We humans seem to come packaged with an extreme need to be right and an extreme fear of being humiliated.

    The main criterion for any group process is to create an environment that is safe and fun.  Safety comes from establishing simple rules that require participants to honor the opinions and ideas of others that are expressed and to encourage sharing in a way that is light and maybe even a bit silly.  Have you ever had someone “order” you to come up with a creative idea or a solution….and then found your mind had gone completely blank?

    I believe we are most creative and energized when our thoughts are encouraged to come freely, with no time limits or imperatives.   And, creativity is supported when we know that we can present an idea or opinion without fear that someone may criticize us for what we say.

    Other Blog posts relating to encouraging collaborative ideas:

    7-26-12 Creativity is sometimes easier within a group

    5-17-12 Another great example of collaboration

    4-5-12 Collaboration is a great tool for building business


    8-30-12 Carolyn’s Marketing 101 Class is being offered in Coupeville

    If you want to get a better overall understanding of what you are selling and how to market what you offer, this will provide you with some simple tools to help you establish and accomplish your goals.

    Marketing 101: How to Better Understand What You’re Selling, by Carolyn Tamler

    Class 1: I will lead you through a process where you will describe your future business goal, what you have going right now to get there, and what you need to change or accomplish to get to that goal.  There will be a break, and then I will lead a discussion about marketing that helps you have a clear understanding of what you are selling and what is special or unique about the product and/or service you provide, who your target market is, what the key messages are and how they relate to what you’re selling, and other basic elements about marketing a business.

    Class 2: I will facilitate a group discussion; then break into smaller groups where you can share what you did as a result of session 1; what worked and what didn’t work. I will respond to additional questions you have about your business and marketing your business.

    Sept 20 & Oct 4, Thursdays, 5-7pm

    Class is offered through Coupeville Community Education.

    Coupeville MS/HS Library                                    Cost: $75 for both classes

    Please pre-register for programs by mail at least one week prior to start date. Find forms at 




    8-23-12 What business are you in?

    When I sit down with a business person to talk about marketing, my first question always is, “What business are you in?”

    Often, I’ll get a very simple answer: “Well, we’re a drug store;” or “I sell plants;” or “We are a bank.”

    To which I respond to the examples above: “There are lots of drug stores around;”  “Lots of people sell plants; or “There are several banks here.”

    In other words, when you want to market your business, you first have to define yourself in a way that is special, that shows off your unique qualities. 

    It is my opinion that what really provides the marketing language for your business is to look at what you want people to experience when they visit your store or buy your product or service.

    For more information about this, check out my Blog: 5-31-12 What is special or unique about your business?