PASBA : Exerting pressure

A pop-up employs press-gang tactics to recruit members.

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The feature

PASBA (Procurement and Supply Chain Benchmarking Association), a US-based association for company logistics operations, makes insistent and intrusive demands to sign-up for membership. PASBA presents visitors to its website with a delayed request to sign-up for free membership of the organisation. The invitation is made in a pop-up panel that appears about 20-25 seconds after the visitor enters any page on the site. Headed ‘Register for Free Membership’, the panel has a bulletpoint list of membership benefits and buttons to Register Now, Register Later or (for existing members) Log in. Before all these is a question and answer, ‘Want this popup to stop? Register now for FREE membership…. Other benefits include:”. The pop-up can be closed in two ways without registering: by clicking on Register Later or moving to another page on the site. However, in both cases it reappears after 20-25 seconds. Clicking Register Now replaces the current page with a three-stage registration form.

The takeaway

PASBA’s insistent distribution of its membership popup is so extraordinary the first thought is the site must have been taken over by cyber pranksters or has re-emerged through a time warp. The presence of social networking buttons (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo! Groups) dispels that idea – the organisation really is active in the present and prepared to harass people into submission of a membership registration. And in fact the tactic is adopted just as vigorously by other ‘process’ and ‘industry’ association sites in its parent group, Benchmarking Network, Inc. In any other context this kind of aggressive refusal to take no (or later) for an answer would be considered anti-social and the perpetrator asked to move on. It is even less tolerated on the web, where intrusive content has long been a major turn-off, but there it is visitors who will move on and away. That can hardly be PASBA’s intention even if it wants ultimately to attract serious supply chainers only. It should take the frighteners off and let its content do the persuading while leaving people plenty of opportunities to sign up of their own volition. It may attract fewer registrations that way, but their quality is likely to be a deal higher.
First published 27 September, 2011
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