Beth BrowningHi, I’m Beth.

I always like to put a face with a name and thought you may as well. After spending hours writing the content for discover-your-customers.com I decided to add a page and tell you about myself both professionally and personally.

I also wanted to share the story behind discover-your-customers.com.

discoveryourcustomers.com – Behind the Scenes

As with many things, inspiration often comes from an unexpected encounter. The inspiration for discover-your-customers.com was a conversation with a stranger on the train between Manhattan, NY and Trenton NJ. During the 90-minute train ride we talked about the restaurant she owned and her challenges as a local business owner when it comes to being on the internet. It’s not surprising that her biggest areas of concern and confusion were around what to do to get her website to show up in search results and find new customers.

We looked at her website on my iPad and I felt her pain when described her marketing as “lame.” It’s no wonder she feels like she’s wasting money on a service that sends one email a month to her existing customers.

She summed it up perfectly, “I own a restaurant…that’s what I do. And I know I don’t know much about marketing or the Internet, but it seems like you need to do more than send emails to people that are already customers if you want to grow a business.”

It struck me, that I have the knowledge and skill set to help her. I started thinking about all of the small and mid-size businesses that are in a similar position – they have a website, know it’s not enough, but don’t have the time or expertise to figure it out on their own. They don’t have big budgets or time for consulting engagements that can take months and may never become a reality.

Having worked with many consultants over the years I’ve always felt that the traditional model is flawed. And it seems that more often than not the nicely delivered proposal ends up gathering dust. In my experience that happens for a few different reasons.

  • The recommendations are impractical and too expensive to implement
  • There is no one within the business that has the expertise to carry out the plan
  • The unique business challenges and constraints weren’t taken into consideration

I’ve also had more than one experience in which the project was successfully implemented but fell apart as soon as the the engagement with the consultant ended. If no one has the skills needed to continue with the initiative, all of the time and money spent putting the program in place goes to waste.

After my conversation with the restaurant owner I realized that I had a perfect opportunity to combine my passion for helping people grow and learn with my business experience and skills and love of writing.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the woman from the train and I can’t for the life of me find her restaurant when I search for it so I won’t be able to help her. But I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help as many businesses as I can discover new customers and grow.

Professional Background

Although majority of my career has been spent at only three companies, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a unique and diverse set of skills.

After a few false starts and discovering the hard way that I wasn’t cut out selling insurance or retail, I landed a job at a printing company in Omaha, Nebraska. My first position was supervisor for a twelve person Call Center.

I moved from the Call Center to Accounts Receivable where I was introduced to technology. I still laugh about the fact that I didn’t hesitate to teach myself how to write Sequel queries and figure out how to build my own reports, but tried my best to refuse learning how to use a PC. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever use one and now here it is, more than twenty years have passed, and I just finished building my own website.

When the company was acquired by a holding company my boss asked me to hire my replacement and come help streamline processes for the Finance Department for “corporate.” I had no idea what I’d be doing or what a turning point it would be in my career. I knew nothing about Finance, but I understood how to organize people and processes and how to use technology to help people be more efficient and accurate. I worked with the guys in IT to develop a system that each of the printing plants could use for invoicing so they could take care of it themselves rather than sending it into corporate. I accumulated some great stories as in my travels from one plant to the next to train the front office staff on the new software.

One thing led to another and I found myself doing site assessments for nine printing plants scattered throughout the US. My job was to document, analyze, and recommend changes to improve and standardize all of the processes. Gathering and documenting requirements for an order entry and shop floor data collection application was my next role. Tired of travel, I jumped on the opportunity to manage the Order Entry and Prepress department for the Omaha Plant. My title was Director of Business Systems (aka Director of IT) when I decided to pursue an opportunity with Oriental Trading Company (OTC) also located in Omaha.

In spite of the fact that I had no formal technical education or training my boss, the Director of IT, offered me a position as a Software Development manager. OTC was in the beginning stages of a very large custom software development project; I was hired me to manage the existing system while the new one was being developed. As it turned out I was assigned as lead for the effort on the project to design and develop a new order entry system.

In the mid-’90s I passed the baton to a colleague and moved from leading the development of a traditional application to the brave new world of website development – and the rest is history. My responsibilities ranged from managing the software development and creative team, to site merchandising, to elevating the quality of the Customer Experience.

In February of 2008 I moved from Nebraska to Pennsylvania and from IT to Marketing as the Director of Internet Customer Experience for Lenox Corporation. My four years with Lenox included managing the creative and operations resources who kept the website updated as well as email marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Personal Highlights

I describe myself as a transplanted Midwesterner and a mid-life woman who is discovering the joy of living life to its fullest and under her own rules. When I’m not working, I chronicle my adventures from the ordinary to the unusual at It’s a Whole New World.

In addition to writing as a creative outlet, drawing, making hand made paper, and photography are among my favorite hobbies. I take pictures of everything (often to my children’s chagrin and embarrassment).

I love sunshine and summertime sports. I have a half dozen triathlons and as many half marathons under my belt. I do them for fun, fitness and the camaraderie that one finds as a member of BOP (back of the pack).

Enough about me

Let’s talk about you.