Headliner: HCMA's Jay Bolling

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Jay Bolling has a salesman's upbeat mien and smooth delivery, befitting the head of a new national trade group for medical marketers, a business getting squeezed from all sides.

Bolling, president of Roska Healthcare Advertising, took the reins of the Healthcare Communication and Marketing Association (HCMA) on Jan. 1. The organization brings together three regional trade groups—the HMCC in the Northeast, the Medical Marketing Association in the West and the Midwest Healthcare Marketing Association—in an effort to modernize their offering to members who serve an increasingly global industry.

“The goal is to build off this foundation but create a new organization to meet the needs of today's healthcare marketing, communications and education professionals,” says Bolling. “So we look to provide consistent high-quality training and development across all levels of one's career. The idea of a national organization just having a big annual meeting in New Jersey and expecting everybody to take time out and travel to it is history.”

Instead, HCMA will offer customized onsite training programs around marketing, regulatory topics and professional development. “We can't expect people to come to us, so we're going to come to them, and the customization is critical,” Bolling says.

In addition to on-site training tailored to the needs of pharmas and biotechs both large and small, as well as agency partners, HCMA will offer distance learning courses online. And HCMA has partnered with four very prominent business schools—Dartmouth, Northwestern's Kellogg School, UCLA and now Wharton—to extend its offerings. With Wharton, Bolling says, “We're really looking at providing financial ROI-based dashboard training and education specific to the healthcare community.”

The group's annual conference, happening in Dallas this year, from June 4-6, will take a more educational tact as well, with the theme “Interacting in an interactive world.” It will carry on the MMA's InAwe and Delta Awards programs.

With the tumult in the industry, a key objective is to help members get up to speed quickly when they shift jobs between functions and sectors. Bolling says he sees marketers struggle as they shift from companies to the agency world. “They come from this process-focused large company environment to a service environment, where it's a free-for-all,” he says.

Bolling remains bullish about the industry's prospects. “The truly amazing thing about this industry is that many of us are in it to help save lives,” he says. “We're not selling toilet paper.” The challenge now, he says, is refining marketing practices and taking advantage of the technology to make sure the right people have the right information. “We've got to get out of this trap of just raising awareness,” says Bolling.

After a brief post-collegiate career in commercial charter fishing, Bolling started out in medical marketing at FCB predecessor Lewis Gilman and Kynett, working on relationship marketing programs for Merck vaccines and cardiovascular brands like Mevacor and Vasotec. He then spent several years at Robertson Raymond, where he worked on Wyeth cough/cold and Novo Nordisk brands. There, he met Roska Direct founder Jon Roska. He joined Roska's agency in 1993 to build the healthcare practice and became president of the healthcare business in 2007.

He and his wife live in suburban Philadelphia with their three daughters, ages 10, 11 and 14. When they can get away, he still enjoys fishing in Nantucket, along with skiing and golf.

His proudest professional achievement, he says, is having helped lead the movement from a mass-market, one-size-fits-all approach to a more targeted marketing model that looks beyond awareness to engage patients and professionals. “In '93, we were out there talking about persistency,” says Bolling. “Now we're talking about hybrid marketing.”


 

HEADLINER STATS

Jay Bolling

President, HCMA

 

1993-present

VP, account management to president, Roska Healthcare Advertising

 

1989-1993

Account director, account VP, Robertson Raymond

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