In Kansas City – Be remarkable to be successful

purplecow photo by Yodel Anecdotal

Seth Godin makes me nervous – but for all the right reasons.

Godin published ‘Purple Cow – Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable’ in 2002 and he explains the title in the first chapter by talking about a trip his family made to France where they were amazed at the pastoral countryside with lots of cows:

“Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring.  They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personalities, cows lit by beautiful light, but they’re still boring.

A Purple Cow, though.  Now that would be interesting!” – Seth Godin Purple Cow

I love the idea of being successful by being remarkable…worth talking about, standing out – but it can be a challenge to figure out how to do that.

Here’s Mr. Godin’s definition of being remarkable:

“…a lot of people appear confused about just what “remarkable” means. It’s not elitist. It’s not weird. It’s not cheap or expensive or big or small. It’s any or all of these things… it’s just something worth talking about.”

It’s the essence of word of mouth – generating business and interest from referrals and getting people to talk about you (in a positive way).  The opposite of being remarkable isn’t low quality – the opposite of remarkable is…boring, middle of the road, average…by definition not something that someone would talk about.

Think about the last ‘average’ movie you saw – it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great or particularly noteworthy in any way.  Did you tell anyone about it?  Probably not.

Now think about your business.  You do a good job when it comes to delivering your product or service – you might even do a great job, but is it remarkable?  Does anything stand out?  Do you create a ‘wow’ moment that people will talk about?

Let’s look at few examples here in Kansas City:

Shatto Milk

Most people in Kansas City have heard of Shatto Milk by now (if not, you might want to check out this article I wrote almost 2 years ago about winning the Missouri Business of the Year).

Shatto milk is the ultimate story in remarkable.  They took a total commodity (dairy products) and turned into a premium specialty that people love to talk about.

How did they do it?  Quality is part of it – as an example their chocolate milk was recently picked in the top 3…in the world!  But there are several other keys that really make them stand out:

  • Their story (they almost went out of business and reinvented themselves),
  • Their commitment to different ideas (using glass bottles, focus on freshness, using the farm as a tourist destination) and
  • Their willingness to try out new and interesting products and flavors (my son loves the root beer flavored milk)!

Successful? – you bet, they’re stocked in almost every grocery store in town and sell (well) at a premium price.  Remarkable? – try their chocolate milk and see if you don’t find yourself telling someone about it!

Square One Interiors

There’s a pretty good chance that you haven’t heard of Square One Interiors yet – it was only started last summer by Courtnay Bradley.  Square One specializes in creating productive and practical commercial and office spaces.  If you’re moving into a new business space – Courtnay can get it built out for you.  If you’ve got an existing space that just doesn’t work very well, she can help you make it work…increasing productivity for you and for your employees.

There are a lot of companies in town who sell office furniture and a lot of them are similar – but there are a couple of things that set Square One apart:

  1. They’re easy to do business with – Courtnay’s approach (and a big reason she decided to go out on her own) is to make it all about the customer and to focus on being easy to work with.
  2. Courtnay is all about relationships…with her vendors, her partners and most importantly with her customers.  She did a great job describing her approach in a blog post a couple of months ago – It’s not business it’s personal!

Is she successful?  She’s still in start-up mode but she’s growing faster than she expected and all of her business so far has been from referrals and relationships – which also answers whether she’s remarkable!


Grinders is a pizza joint in the Crossroads district – at first glance you might not pick up on anything different.  But this isn’t just any pizza place – it’s a dive…a dive featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!

What sets them apart?  Why are people talking about them?

It could be the food – they feature some unusual things like the Chili Bomb – Tater Tot Chili Pizza, the Bengal Tiger Pizza (really interesting India inspired pizza) and they are famous for their insanely hot ‘Death Wings’!

They have a great beer list and they go out of their way to find interesting craft beers to feature on the menu.

They also do a great job supporting the local music and arts scene and they’ve inspired a loyal following.

Successful?  They’ve been up and running for 5 years and they continue to grow.  Remarkable?  Let’s put it this way – my brother from St. Louis came into town and it was the one place he wanted to go check out since they had heard about Grinders from different people (and on TV)!

Being remarkable isn’t easy, but it is something that any business can do.  Come up with whatever is authentically different about how you do business and get people to start talking!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on other remarkable businesses in Kansas City – share them below in the comments!

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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