Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The FDA Release Social Media Guidelines for Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Firms

 Some of you who have been following the Road Scholars Marketing blog since it started several years ago may remember that one of the first posts involved the important issue of what rules and guidelines would be placed on the pharmaceutical manufacturing firms by the FDA in terms of how they could and couldn't promote their medications to the market.

New FDA Release

I'm now pleased to report back to you all that after five years last week the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now formally released two key guidelines that will control how both pharmaceutical and medical device companies will need engage with the market utilising social media.

The Two New Areas

1. Instructions on how companies go about correcting any erroneous product information on any digital platform controlled by third parties.
2. The way in which both the positive and negative aspects of a product are to be presented whereby the key risk or potential hazard along with the key benefit are presented in an open digital forum which can be any form of website, networking platform, blog or discussion forum as possible examples.

The FDA has spoken directly about the fact that these guidelines were developed whilst working in conjunction with pharmaceutical industry representation as well as that from other key stakeholders.

In the case of prominent third-party websites such as Wikipedia, companies when correcting errors that have been made in ddesribing a device or medication must be done so in a balanced way and always validated with a source from which the information is given such as the official product information for the product or a reference from a key clinical study.

Specifically the revised text would be placed along side the flawed text and would be included purely as a means of correcting a previous mistake and in no way to promote the brand in question.

The FDA guidelines go on to say that when any proprietary firm finds any mistake in content, they should immediately contact the website, blog or form to  provide the correct information so that the misinformation can be quickly and completely addressed to provide accurate information.

In the absence of these formal guidelines before now, many companies have understandably been somewhat reserved and have been less than fully engaged within the digital space, however with this much needed and somewhat overdue arrival of rules, would be now in a much better position to proactively leverage this powerful promotional tool to above all else, provide more accurate and meaningful information to the market and by extension better customer service.

Currently this release is being used by the FDA as a starting point for on going discussion and as needed the basis for further discussion, review and change. Naturally as any new information is released, the Road Scholars Marketing Blog will present a full evaluation and review.

So until next time, good luck, (good health) and good marketing.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Need For SSL Certificates

As I have mentioned in a previous post, there are an amazing number of businesses nationally still don't have a website. Specifically forty four percent. Yet as incredible a statistic as that is, perhaps a more stunning and concerning one is that of the businesses that do have a website and are actively involved in transacting eCommerce on line and / or taking non financial, personal information through their site, still do so without having an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on their site.

The SSL certificate is the necessary layer of security that needs to be set up to provide communication security over the internet and ensure that no unauthorised party is able to illegally listen into a discussion that they have no right to hear.

The technology works through the use of a symmetric key between the server and the user. This session key is then used to encrypt data flowing between these parties. This ensures that the message or information being transmitted is encrypted and thus unable to be understood by anyone eavesdropping on the conversation. 

There are various versions of the SSL protocols that are widely used in different applications such as web browsing, email, faxing, SMS messages and VOIP communication.  One of the key elements to ongoing security is forward secrecy which protects against a session key can not be generated from the long term asymmetric secret key.

 From a functional point of view having the SSL Certificate in place adds key steps to the communication process as described in the picture below. If there is no SSL security layer in place you simply have the blue and green steps performed. 

However by protecting your internet portal with an SSL or TLS (Transport Layer Security) Certificate, your system adds the additional layers of Sessional Key Exchange and Cipher Suite Negotiation that establishes the authenticity of the parties and ensures that they alone access messages that are not encrypted and therefore unusable.

The cost of not having an SSL if you’re routinely take personal or financial data online can be very high but thankfully the cost of having it is fairly modest and can be easily afforded by most businesses including SME's.
A business need only approach their Internet Service Provider (ISP) to have this installed at around $120 for an extended validation SSL that is a premium level protection as used by major businesses.

To learn more about SSL certificates, e-commerce, data privacy and all key aspects of digital media please feel free to go to the Digital Enterprise Program website on:

You will be eligible to attend any of the seven, free, two hour workshops, after which you will also be offered a free 4 hour one on one coaching session specifically on how to plan, position and promote your business with both digital and traditional marketing tolls.

So I hope to see you all there and until next time, good luck and good marketing.

Daniele Lima.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yet Another Wonderful Example of Exemplary Customer Service and Selling Skills

It’s fair to say that few of us these days expect exemplary customer service and salesmanship from any particular business because frankly despite the fact that everyone certainly deserves it, it simply so often so far from that level that we just get used to the bar being set so much lower.

With this in mind I’m delighted to be able to pass on and discuss with you an example of a young man who has truly understood what selling should be and how every sales person should approach the role each day.
To set the scene like many others I was looking to upgrade my car last week as we came to the end of the financial year and after much analysis decided the new VF Calais was the ideal car for me in Prussian Steel. With this I went into a local dealership and am grateful to have met an honest and genuine broker in the form of Sam Innes at Booran Holden, in Nepean Highway Cheltenham.

Sam basically makes a mockery of the long standing stereotypical behaviours many people attribute to car salespeople. Quite the opposite he understood from the outset that the greatest attribute of any salesperson is the ability to actively listen to what I was saying to him. Hear it, understand it and ultimately act on it in a way that supported my needs and desires and accounted also for any concerns or issues that I was facing in the decision of buying my new car whilst concurrently selling the old one.
As an interesting footnote to this story the word selling itself is a word from the Scandinavian region which means ‘To Serve’ and when I look back at Sam’s approach it is not surprising that every element of my time with him did just that.
His openness, transparency, fairness and desire to want to help me get what I wanted stood out strongly and coupled with his professionalism and attitude, made it a very simple choice for me in the end.
AS a little icing on the cake after buying the car and awaiting delivery I realised that one item that had always come standard with this make of car was now an optional extra. Sensing my disappointment at this, Sam negotiated to get it for me at no cost despite the fact the deal had already been done, ensuring that as well as my overall level of satisfaction, there was also a little Wow factor thrown in for good measure.
I suspect Sam Innes will go a long way in both his current role at Booran Holden and where ever the trail leads him because he has as his central focus the customers and their needs not just those of the business, and so any success based on this approach will be well earned.  As a final question how much does your approach to dealing with customers mirror Sam’s. A little or a lot?
So until next time, good luck and good marketing.