Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tips on getting mail responses

Often people ask me how to best get a response from their soldier(s). You probably think I'm an expert! Well, if you factor in that I have tried to send a letter to every soldier that is sent my way, my own "return rate" is very low. I have received a 100 responses, thank-yous, flags, certificates, Christmas cards, gifts, many many emails, but considering the number I have sent out....

Most of my time now is spent connecting others. In fact, since the Disney publicity in November, I have not been able to send letters of introduction to all the new troops that have come to me. I should have mentioned that to those of you who have sponsored a new soldier since October! Your troop might not know anything about "Aunt Nancy USA"! I hope to get back to doing that soon.

Meanwhile, I'd like to post here some suggestions from volunteers who HAVE had great response. If you have suggestions, send them my way (soldiers OR sponsors can send ideas in). I'll keep posting ideas on this Blog entry, so come back and check it again.

The first thing to remember is that these guys and gals are in a war zone and often working 7 days a week, 12 to 18 hours a day! They may have enough energy to READ your letter, but if they get time and energy to write, it's their families and friends they will respond to first. Many of the troops have desk jobs at base camp and if they do, then we get lucky and get email replies! The others may only get 30 minutes online every once in awhile.

  • My first suggestion is to write very neatly on your envelopes and packages. Some get tossed out if they can't be read, especially due to security. Make sure the soldier's address AND your return address are very clear.
  • Always include a return envelope with your address already on it. (no postage is required for their return mail). Maybe even send them some little address stickers.
  • Include your email address just in case they get to use a computer. (Most can, but only occasionally, and then they write to family and friends first.)
  • Buy a box of cards ("Michaels" sells them for $1.00!) Send often, at least once a week until you get a response. You don't have to write a lot in each notecard.
  • If you have sent a fews packages without hearing back (allow 2 months) you might write to say you won't send more until you get a response and are sure they are arriving.
  • Keep your letters upbeat, even funny. Send cheer! Tell them about everyday life back home, and what's going on in your world.
  • Send pictures! They like to know see who is writing them, just like we like to see their photo.
  • Talk local sports. Send memorabilia! Magazines, ball caps, shirts, whatever! Pro, college... One soldier wrote: "We'd much rather receive a sporting item that reminds us of home than a can of shaving cream any day!"
  • Look up your soldier on MySpace or Facebook! You may find his/her interests there.

Here's one from a woman who writes lots of soldiers, and she writes extremely often.

Yes, Jamey and I are becoming friends. I got e-mail right away. I might add that my soldiers get almost daily snail mail from me, so they don’t stand a chance if they are not talkative. Lol…. I don’t wait for responses and I threaten boredom for them if they don’t at least tell me something they want to hear about..lol Im always up for another soldier or 2 or 10 if somebody needs me. Thanks for Jamey….

I like her "threaten boredom" approach! :-)

I work VERY hard to keep in touch with my contacts to make sure the troop names and APO (Army Post Office) addresses are still valid. Of course, I can't be as perfect as I'd like, but I sure try. If you get a change, or an email address, please forward that info to me.

Send me your success suggestions! I'll be back adding more soon.