I met the smartest entrepreneur on the Mexican Riviera. The Purple Cow of Puerto Vallarta. A true marketing genius.

After spending two weeks in Puerto Vallarta, “No gracias” rolled off my tongue faster than “Donde esta el baño?” or “Una margarita por favor”. The beach, Old Town and the Malecón swarm with locals peddling everything from jewelry, to pottery, to blankets, dresses and temporary tattoos. Some beautiful items, but fifteen minutes of bartering will most likely get you a more expensive deal on a product made in China (defeating the purpose of truly supporting the local economy) than you’d pay at your home-based import store. More than ten vendors per hour will greet you under your favorite thatched roof beach palapa, all pitching the same “unique” souvenirs, the same way…

“Jewelry señorita?” — “How many you want?” — “Almost free!”

So you can only imagine my surprise, and delight, the day I met the Muffin Man. Dressed in white, 30-something, sun-kissed, unusually shiny white smile, nicely groomed ponytail, rectangular pan of freshly baked, and still warm, muffins balanced atop his head, secured by the grip of one arm.

“Muffin Maaaan! Come and get your muffins!”

Chocolate. Banana. Coconut. Orange.

No bartering. 15 pesos each (about $1.25).

Sold.

Not only does the Muffin Man sell out of muffins each morning, tourists wait on the beach for him from 10am until noon (guilty) for the chance to soak their teeth into one of his delicious delights. And it isn’t unusual for hotel patrons to order light on their breakfast at the beachside café in order to save room for the Muffin Man’s deliveries.

I doubt we’ll ever find the Muffin Man speaking at any business or marketing conferences (although that’s not a bad idea — watch out Seth Godin). But, as entrepreneurs, marketers, creators and innovators, we can learn some important lessons from his success:

  • Find an opportunity/need, and create your product or service to fill that opportunity/need
  • Be different. What “everyone’s doing” isn’t necessarily what everyone else wants.
  • Be better.
  • Provide quality.
  • Know your market. Be where they are.
  • Value your product/service. If you do, your audience will too.
  • Make it simple. Avoid overdesigning, overadvertising, overdoing.
  • Show pride and passion in your business. Excitement is contagious.
  • Rely on, and don’t be afraid of, social marketing. Fans will talk. Let them.

Whether you’re in the muffin, music or magic business…the concepts outlined above are the same. If it works for the Muffin Man, it can work for you.