Paid texting for the national vice-commander
During a visit to the Oklahoma department earlier this year, American Legion Vice National Commander Michael Mitrione said he spoke with another Legionnaire about engaging current members. , old and potential. The Legionnaire told Mitrione that if anyone wants to reach another person today, “you have to reach them in media that they are comfortable with,” Mitrione said.
Later, when Mitrione was visiting the Department of Georgia and participating in a revitalization effort where attempts to reach expired legionnaires were made by telephone, “(Department of Georgia Commander) Mark Shreve, in response to one of his calls phone calls, got a response saying, ‘Hey, can you text me this information,” Mitrione said. “So we started texting. We came up with a (uniform) message…and the response we received in the three days we were there (was) over 400 renewals.
Each text message included the expired member’s membership number, as well as a link to renew online. After the initial success in Georgia, Mitrione—a member of American Legion Post 55 in Fredericksburg, Virginia—carried it back on visits to Tennessee and North Carolina. In the first instance, Mitrione said: “It was kind of the same results: around 150 (renewals) on the first day, and I think it was well over 300 on the second day when we left. (Tennessee Warrant Officer) Dean Tuttle later told me he personally had 75.”
When North Carolina Legion leadership contacted Mitrione to come there for a similar effort in late March, again using text messaging for expired members while performing Buddy Checks, Mitrione and his team were able to renew 40 lapsed members of the department headquarters position, as well as six other members from other positions.
Mitrione said some of the people they contacted thought they had already renewed, while others had forgotten. And others had complaints, which “gave us an opportunity to go back and say, ‘Let’s talk about it. What’s the problem ? “said Mitrione.
Mitrione also has a list of members in his area and says he regularly texts them birthday wishes, while thanking them for joining and asking if they have any concerns or issues, directing them to their local position in the process.
“I got (a response) that said, ‘I’ve been paying my dues for three years and no one has ever contacted me,'” Mitrione said. “I said, ‘Well, let me contact the commander from the department, because he is really interested and we try to sort out this kind of situation. We try to reach out to the members… even if it is not more than once a year, we wish them a happy birthday .
There were times when Mitrione had to reach out via a traditional phone call if an SMS was sent to a landline and an email went unanswered, but he said using SMS provided much better results at a faster pace.
“If you call me on my home phone… you won’t get me because you’re not in my phone book,” he said. “But people look at their text messages. That’s why they say don’t text and drive. You send a text message to someone, they will look at it. So the response was really amazing to me. It is reaching out and touching our members.