Jesus Christ was a superb marketer, says Ernie Dimalanta, founder and CEO of the Dimalanta Design Group in Blue Ash.

“Look at Christ’s story: He didn’t have billboards or a big advertising budget. He kept it simple. He lived his message, kept it relevant, targeted and personal. And he grew a team that believed in what he was saying,” says the former minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.

Using that simple approach Dimalanta has built a successful marketing and branding firm focused on small- and medium-sized businesses. The firm, which started in Dimalanta’s basement in 2009, today has a staff of 12 and is averaging about 75 percent annual growth.

“What we provide is full-service marketing and communications services. From planning and consulting to execution and brand management all the way to public relations and social media.”

He says the firm tailors its services to what the client needs.

“Some of the larger companies we work with have a marketing director but they don’t have a marketing department. We provide the executable piece as opposed to them having to job shop every piece of a project,” he says. “Other clients use us for the whole thing. “

Among Dimalanta Design Group’s clients are Habitat for Humanity, SentriLock LLC, Flagel Huber Flagel & Co., the city of Sharonville and the Health Collaborative.

Dimalanta, 38, a Cleveland native who moved to Cincinnati in 2004 to establish new churches, says he quickly identified with the small business people he met.

“My passion has always been with small businesses since I started that way,” he says. “While we live in a big marketing town, there’s nobody that cares the way I do about small businesses.”

Dimalanta, who decided to pursue the ministry while in college, and worked at The Chapel, one of the largest churches in Akron, says, “I realized the importance of communications and the importance of communicating your message effectively.”

When he came to Cincinnati, he joined local chambers of commerce and met a lot of business people.

“I realized a lot of business owners don’t know how to communicate their message. They have the greatest idea and story to tell but don’t know who to tell or how to tell it.”

He launched his own firm to help them.

Dimalanta, who is also chief marketing officer for Columbus-based Aimpoint Research, has developed his own methodology he calls “Out-and-Out Marketing.”

He says the biggest mistake businesses make is throwing a lot of money at marketing without a clear idea of the message they’re trying to convey.

“You’ve got to have a plan and see it through,” he says.

“You need to be an ‘Out-and-Out Marketer,’ which means in everything you do you have to keep it simple. Don’t create a marketing plan or strategy that you can’t see through.”