There’s a legendary Parisian baker who won’t recruit peers across the industry to his incredibly successful business.

The only route to being hired is by being raw. This guy would rather have a bin man come sign up as his apprentice than a fully fledged bread-crafting genius.

To him the rites of passage to becoming part of the fabric is all about starting from scratch, learning with no preconceptions to create the perfect product. It’s that you don’t have to undo all the nuances and quirks that have built up in that baker through years of habit-forming in pursuit of artisan excellence elsewhere.

Learning the ropes through an intense and long-lasting training programme, these fresh-faced incumbents fast understand that baking is part-passion, part-devotion, all-nature. The way he makes bread isn’t about baking – it’s poetry.

It’s not the bread… Kudos for the photo to wolfgangfoto, via Compfight cc.

To a sceptical outsider, it’s simply a loaf. To the devotees who cram inside his shops, day after day, it’s the meaning of life.

Who do you think the baker cares for most?

Agencies don’t understand

A couple of months ago I had a chat with an inbound marketing agency. The boss was gracious in his honesty that it was impossibly challenging to truly get under the skin of his clients with what little time they could commit in return for the financial resources allocated.

To me, that made perfect sense. As a journalist, I would skirt and skate around and a story would prevail. Then the next one. And another. The bursts were all to which we could aspire. Graduating to becoming a feature writer would mean instead of having half an hour to write a piece, you’d have two hours. They fleshed out the detail, added some colour and gravitas.

And then they, too, moved on.

As the outsider, you have little chance to truly uncover the subtleties of a product, a service, a brand, that ultimately generate profitable, long-lasting, connected customer communities.

Inbound marketing is by its very nature subtle itself. You gently prod and tease the questions and pulse from the customer, and you answer and massage them. And you keep doing that, using all your rich media might.

It takes four years to be that baker. It takes a lifetime to be you.

Can you imagine pitching for the job of representing that baker, or you, to intimately act as the conduit with those you hold dearest?

Agencies stand no chance of being your inbound marketing maven.

If you think they can, you value your business like you do a tin of beans. While many think inbound marketing is unquantifiable, I believe done right, with the passion of that artisan craftsman, it is priceless as a smile.

A smile is a sale

Keep the smile, keep selling.

To the tribe, having that backstage access through your revealing blog, photos and videos, radio shows, physical invitations and live Hangouts, is Christmas.

Many people curious about inbound marketing don’t see what’s at the end of the rainbow. They see the rain of competition, the sunshine of opportunity, but they don’t understand what happens when you see in stereo and the two concoct to produce a journey worth making.

With patience, persistence and passion, you’ll reach that pot of gold. An unswerving, unflappable commitment to your product, to exposing its manifest benefits that matter to your customers of today and tomorrow, is inbound marketing.

Tough love

You have to do the work. But you have staff. And they being your heartbeat, can make it work.

Hiring should no longer be simply about matching candidate to criteria. Every single recruit I’ve made has had to sing their way into the job. Figuratively. If I don’t see the light in their eyes, they’re not coming back.

You can teach skills. Negative, passion. The right peer will never shirk the chance to market your business, any way that works. And that’s magic dust.

Sadly, the agency can never replicate that enthusiasm or potency. But you can.

And your customers will love you for it.

Enjoyed this lesson for content strategy success? Get in touch on Twitter @davethackeray and let me know your thoughts.