We’ll get to content marketing in a second, but first let’s talk about human interaction. Think about the last cocktail party or networking event or kid’s birthday party you went to.

You probably engaged in several conversations and met some new people. You probably saw some people you knew that you couldn’t wait to speak with. You probably saw at least one person you knew that you wanted no part of.

When we go to events, we like talking to people we like. We enjoy having conversations with inquisitive people who seem genuinely interested in what we have to say. And we avoid the folks that can’t stop talking about themselves.

It’s human nature.

And it should be a blueprint for your content marketing. Because people go searching for information looking for the same type of give-and-take; we want to engage with brands that are offering help and that seem to have genuine interest in our success. We avoid loudmouth brands that can’t stop broadcasting how awesome they are.

READ MORE: Understanding the New Buyer’s Journey

And yet, that seems to be what most B2B firms are doing: Talking about themselves. Writing about their awesome services. Tweeting about their best-of-breed solutions. News Flash: Nobody gives a crap. In fact, it’s been reported that 86 percent of consulting professionals ignore thought leadership content that is sent to them. Oof.

What professionals want is help doing their job. They’re seeking information that will help them. And while a given brands pride in its work may make it think that its products and services are exactly what the audience needs, the audience doesn’t agree. At least not yet. Because if all you’ve done is talk about your own brand, you haven’t earned the trust of the audience yet.

Inward-looking, product-centric content is what marketing departments have traditionally churned out; just because you call it “content marketing” doesn’t make it something new. At Scribewise, we define content marketing as “The creation and distribution of journalistic, audience-focused content that helps people do their jobs or live their lives.”

READ MORE: What Is Content Marketing? 7 Definitions

It seems easy in theory to change the content your organization is producing to be customer-centric, but in practice it is very difficult. Sirius Decisions recently quoted an EMEA CMO as saying ““Often the natural DNA of an organization is to revert back to its common denominator – a product-out view.”

That is, when push comes to shove and the head of sales is pounding on marketing’s door, marketing folds and delivers product-oriented content. Which the prospect has virtually no interest in, at least not until late in the sales cycle.

Brands need to flip themselves around and face the other direction.

They need to drop the vanity content, and provide value into the marketplace. They need to stir the conversation and provide a gift to the audience – their thinking. By delivering thought leadership content into the market, helping people to do their jobs and making them smarter about how they do those jobs, B2B firms can win.

It’s a give and take, but first you have to give.

To paraphrase the Beatles, “… and in the end, the sales you take, is equal to the content you make.”