Yesterday, I drove by a coffee shop I used to frequent and noted that it wasn’t open. It used to be a busy place, but a couple of years ago it changed owners and all that business dried up.

What changed?

Previously, it had a unique business design. They primarily focused on serving three different options of dark roast coffees that would rotate daily. When you entered the cafe, there was a little rack with tasting glasses and you would try each before deciding what you wanted to drink. There were several other touches that made the place different, but everything flowed from that little tasting station.

Even though it was a tiny space, in a lousy location, and only open a few days of the week, it was packed every minute it was open.

Last night, I drove across town to get a pizza. There are several pizza places closer to where I live and some of them are excellent, but I made the trip to get a Detroit style pizza. If you’re not familiar, Detroit style is similar to Little Caesars with a square pie that has a focaccia bread crust. The restaurant I went to is called “Ranch” because every pie comes with two sides of ranch.

I heard about both of these places from other people.

One of the qualities that impacts word-of-mouth is how remarkable a business is. Seth Godin wrote an entire book on this, Purple Cow. It’s a great read with lots of examples of how and why using anecdotes like these.

These anecdotes are the idea writ large, because that’s what makes it easy to understand. But the underlying engine is really how remarkable the business is. The qualities of the business don’t have to be arcane, fancy, or heavily designed. They just have to be worthy of comment.

For example, I buy free range eggs. I noticed an insert in one of the brands I buy to see the farm in action and I looked it up online. It was what I expected for an $8 carton of eggs with lots of happy chickens in a field.

I’m going to show my wife the website, not because of the happy chickens, but because of the guard dogs. The company doesn’t emphasize it in their marketing, but they raise Great Pyreneese dogs alongside the chickens. These are to guard against coyotes and other predators. A pack of huge white dogs roaming a field full of chickens to protect them is pretty remarkable.

Featured image is a Fresco from the house of the Prince of Montenegro, Pompeii, 25–35 CE. Hercules is drunk on the floor. The Pyrenean mountains are named for a princess, Pyrene, who Hercules raped while drunk. Taken by Stefano Bolognini Own work, Attribution,