B2B content writing that stops the scroll: The art of the unexpected

Back when I was a B2B property journalist, I started a bog-standard, state-of-the-market feature by drawing comparisons with famous pieces of art.

I wrote that if the market were a painting, it would be less like Monet’s Water Lilies and more like Dali’s The Putrefied Donkey.

Writing something unexpected can be a good way of grabbing attention. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The point was to grab attention with my opening line by throwing in something unexpected yet illustrative of the point I wanted to make.

I chose words and created an image that readers flicking through the magazine wouldn’t usually read.

Whether you are writing an article or a LinkedIn post, if you are following the usual tropes with all your content, you risk being lost in the crowd.

It’s not necessarily about saying something different to everyone else; you can have a similar idea just present it in a different way.

Getting creative

I could have said the property market was challenging or leasing conditions were difficult. But that’s what everyone else would say, so I got creative.

And I returned to the art theme running, concluding how the market might be a different painting in 6 months.

Let’s look at it another way. Which quote would make you want to read the piece more:

❓The one which said getting deals signed off was tough?

❓ Or the one which said securing deals was like trying to kick a mattress up a hill?

Saying something a bit differently, maybe adding some colour or imagery can help grab attention, and in a sea of content, when competition for people’s time is tough, it is increasingly important.

A few things to try:

💡 Say what isn’t going to happen rather than what is:

Will there be a record number of deals this year? Probably not.

💡 Challenge or disagree with a common view:

The working from home trend is great for the office market.

💡 Highlight a different number than usual to tell a story

This is a stat I pulled out to use in an intro for a client’s podcast on sustainable data centres:

“Do you think about the environmental cost when you send an email, search the internet or stream a TV series?

To put it into context, binge-watching Bridgerton on Netflix is equivalent to boiling the kettle four times, according to Uswitch research.  Data centres are critical to our day-to-day digital lives, but they require energy to function…”

(You can listen to the episode on Concert’s website here.)

💡 Be tongue in cheek:

Working in an office is best – says an office agent.

💡 Play with a widely recognised phrase or saying

You’re gonna need a bigger office if you want to offer flexible working.

(I Googled famous film quotes for inspiration for this.)

💡 Draw an unusual parallel or comparison:

“If the West End market over the past year were to be represented by a painting, it would not be Monet’s Water lilies but probably Dali’s The Putrefied Donkey. But could it be time for a new painting?” EG 2003

💡 Be relatable in a different way, e.g. use an anecdote

This quote was used as an intro to a piece about the drivers for sustainable finance:

I was walking down the street with my young daughter, and her friend and her friend started talking about how shocking it was to see the cherry blossom blooming in February. She’s 7-years old,” says Edmund Costello, Partner at Trinova Real Estate.

You can read the full piece on Trowers & Hamlins website here.

💡 Surprise your audience

Why hybrid working isn’t the future

This was the headline on this LinkedIn article by Daniel Paulusma but you could easily turn it into a stop-the-scroll intro.

A caveat

The one caveat I would add is if you are using an image or phrase, make sure it is instantly recognisable and easily understood.

You don’t need to have seen the Putrefied Donkey, the title is enough to make the comparison with Water Lilies work.

It’s easy to lose your audience with a slightly obscure reference.

What opening gambit has made you stop and pay attention to a piece of content recently?

Latest posts

Leave a Reply