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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    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?



    8-16-12 Giving customers what they want

    Anytime someone is courageous enough to start a new business, the hope is that something special is being offered that will create a growing set of satisfied customers who will spread the word.

    Once the business is open, the next step is to stay tuned in to what people are buying and what they are requesting.

    I've written before about Anchor Books & Coffee in Clinton (4-12-12 Building a community while you build a business).

    This week, they are featured in my Blog and in the Whidbey Island Life Examiner.

    Bruce and Trish Didier saw the need for a community meeting place, as well as an opportunity for a quality used bookstore, in Clinton.

    Through paying attention to their customer’s interests, they have created a balance of espresso drinks, simple food choices – many from local Island businesses - quality used books, new books by local authors, consignment items from locals, and a comfortable, welcoming, friendly space where people can meet or simply enjoy a few moments to themselves.

    Their business model has created a growing number of loyal book customers (“This is the nicest bookstore I’ve been in,” is a frequent comment), and coffee shop regulars, some from as far away as Coupeville.

    Recently, Anchor Books & Coffee expanded from its original 2,000 square foot space, to 3,000 square feet, including a small conference room that is already in high demand.

    Customer traffic into this space that is just a short distance up the road from the Clinton Ferry Terminal keeps growing, thanks to a strong commitment to great customer service and response to customer desires (and it doesn’t hurt that Trish makes terrific cinnamon pull-aparts).


    8-9-12 Why do a survey?

    The essential 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 who your customers are and 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.

    There are two basic types of surveys: self-selected and statistically valid random sample. 

    A self-selected survey is a written questionnaire distributed through the mail, a newspaper or magazine, or on the web (Survey Monkey) or simply left at a counter for someone to complete.  In each case, the respondent chooses to participate (i.e. selects himself or herself).  This is not a survey that can generally be used to project what your entire population wants, but it does tell you what people want who care enough to respond to your questions.

    A statistically valid, random sample survey is based on scientific principals that make it possible to predict the responses of a total population, within a given error range, based upon a random sample of that population.  The key here is that proper random sampling techniques must be used to assure that everyone in the population has an equal chance of being selected for the survey. 

    If you're not planning to make use of the information you are getting from the survey, there is no point in doing it.