Remember, content marketing is NOT about sales!

If you cruise around the Internet, you’ll find a lot of HR and marketing content. Business websites, company blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds—all of that (and more!) is out there, clamoring for your attention. You’ll also find that much of that content is devoted to connecting with current or potential customers. That makes sense: many companies use online content as one driver of sales.

Interestingly, though, when HR and marketing content focuses on sales, it loses its effectiveness. At first glance, this seems like a paradox. After all, you should talk about sales in order to increase sales, right? Wrong.

The thing is, readers already know that those businesses are selling something. So they don’t necessarily want to get hit with an overt sales pitch. You need to show them why you deserve their business.

By “show” I don’t mean you should tell them about your pricing schemes or provide a detailed list of your services. Nor should you go on and on about why you’re better than your competition. Instead, you need to provide content that is valuable to your readers. It should focus on what your readers would value learning from you—and not on what you think is important for them to know.

Good content shows why you are a better choice than your competitors. It positions you as a subject-matter expert in your field (and in many cases doesn’t even focus directly on the services you provide) so that your readers can see for themselves why you should be their top choice.

Consider the staffing industry. Although its core services are temporary staffing and direct-hire staffing, its potential audience includes anyone who is concerned with general workforce management. So instead of providing useful content only about managing contingent workforces, for example, staffing firms can reach out to an even larger audience by broadening the scope of their content to address topics that may be of interest to any business. For example, incentive programs for hourly employees, how to connect benefits and employee retention, and changes in employment law are topics that can attract the attention of any HR department and manager.

A staffing firm that goes beyond the sales pitch and produces content with industry-specific information useful to its clients is already ahead of many of its competitors. But an organization that produces content that appeals to an even wider target audience demonstrates its expertise and flexibility. Not only does it strengthen its connection to targets who are already inclined to seek its services, but it also has the potential to connect with targets who might not have realized what a staffing firm could do for them.

Want to stand out from the crowd? Then you need to offer your readers something different. Start by taking a look at what value-added content you provide. If you don’t have any (that is, if your content is nothing more than a sales pitch), then it’s time to make a big change. If you have some but it’s not enough to convince a reader that you’re an expert in your field, consider what you can offer that your competitors don’t—and then provide it.