Send better emails with SCRAP

Over the last few months I’ve been talking about writing quite often. One of the main takeaways I normally convey is this: you should (almost) never start from a blank page. Always, always have a clear structure first.

Templates usually help, and I have several of those for all the kinds of write-ups I regularly do. When it’s time to send a business email, whether I know the recipient or not, I usually try structuring the text using the SCRAP model.

What does SCRAP stand for?

A message that’s been put together according to the SCRAP formula has these ingredients, in this exact order:

Situation: where we’re at right now.
Complication: the problem that needs to be dealt with.
Resolution: your proposed way to fix the problem.
Action: the action you want the reader to take (a click, or even a simple answer).
Politeness: the end, on a friendly note.

Here’s a simple example. Alex and Sam are two random people who briefly met at a meetup. In this email, Sam is doing a classic networking follow-up and the SCRAP model fits perfectly:

Hey Alex,

Lovely to meet you yesterday at the Product meetup! Glad we were able to chat before the schedule got underway.  ➡️ SITUATION

I remember you mentioned [CHALLENGE], which is far too common in our industry. ➡️ COMPLICATION

Since that’s exactly what our team does, I’d be really happy to have a chat with you and explore ways to work together. ➡️ RESOLUTION

It would be great to schedule a Skype call earlier next week. Does Monday 10AM work for you? ➡️ ACTION

Looking forward to hearing from you. ➡️ POLITENESS

Cheers!

Sam

Why does it work?

As a template, it works by default—it gives you a framework with five content blocks to fill, so that you can create a first version quickly and painlessly. As a message, it’s short and to the point, and prompts the recipient to perform the intended action.

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