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.”
VP, account management to president, Roska Healthcare Advertising
Account director, account VP, Robertson Raymond