The SELWAB formula is a self-check for writing leads for letters, but it applies to writing leads for articles, headlines, and emails, too.
It’s short for “Start Every Letter With A Benefit.”
And handy it is!
The reason I use SELWAB is simple: I want my reader to keep reading.
It’s an easy guideline formula: as I begin to write any lead (for a letter, an article, a headline, email subject line, a blog post), I frame my opening sentence or paragraph with my reader’s needs in mind.
“Start every letter with a benefit” – a benefit for the reader (not you.)
That’s what makes the SELWAB formula so pivotal.
As you write and re-write the lead, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. What will be of interest or advantage to her and compel her to keep reading? Ask yourself questions like these.
Tech4Friends needs your used cell phones and tablets for missionaries in southeast Asia.
“<SNOOZE>. They’re only interested in what they can get from me. Throw this letter in the trash.”
You can recycle that obsolete phone or tablet gathering dust in your desk drawer and net a $50 tax deduction when you donate your device to Tech4Friends. We’ll refurbish it and give it people like Aron, a missionary in Cambodia, who right now can only check his email once a month. And we’ll even provide you with the shipping label to send your device to us.
“I’m a bit intrigued by this version. I can save money (I’ll get a tax deduction); solve a problem (I’ll get rid of unused devices); be useful (I never realized they don’t have devices); it’s convenient (I’ll get a shipping label); and (yes) – I’ll alleviate a bit of guilt by helping those in need. This writer doesn’t mention what he gets out of the deal, other than working as a transparent interface between me and the beneficiary. I think I’ll keep reading.”
Same letter. Two different openings.
SELWAB: start each letter with a benefit.
Just make sure it’s a benefit for the reader – not you.
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