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Company works for unique marketing solutions

Imagin harnesses high-tech

From the first glimpse of the corrugated cardboard and twine-tied package in which their marketing information is wrapped, it’s apparent that Imagin is not a typical business.

Imagin, a technology-based company, uses an array of the latest technological devices to create unique marketing tools.

“Every business has a story to tell, and storytelling is an art form in the South,” said Lane Holmes, founder, president and CEO of Imagin. “We draw upon these traditions and use the latest technologies to communicate effectively for businesses. Using multimedia, Web sites, kiosks and the latest tools, we take your story from the front porch to the customer. Imagin is a Mississippi-based company, independently-owned and staffed with original thinkers. This means you’ll benefit from solutions without agendas, performance without boundaries and effective communications.”

After 18 years of practicing real estate and corporate law, Holmes, 50, saw an opportunity for a creative outlet and potential success in an untapped market. The concept passed muster with Scott Doucet, a 20th Century Fox TV production coordinator that he met through work, and the two established Jackson-based Imagin in 1994. Since then, gross revenue has doubled every year, he said.

“Scott and I had a lot in common with technology, and we saw where the market was heading,” Holmes said. “We also noticed a trend in outsourcing. Imagin started out small with three people. Now we have eight on staff.”

All work, including programming, graphic design, audio editing, video editing, CD-ROM duplications, copy writing and copy editing, is done in-house, Holmes said.

“Like similar companies, our biggest challenge has been to maintain a cutting-edge approach and to understand what is coming next,” Doucet said. “We made a commitment early on to be involved with user groups and organizations that keep us on the cutting edge. With the Internet, we’ve been able to do so. We get several hundred e-mails every day that deal with software and better ways to use tools. We’ve partnered with companies such as Macromedia, and we are a Microsoft Solution Provider. That keeps us ahead of the curve.”

Imagin’s technology base is what distinguishes their company from others, Holmes said.

“A technology base is very important because it keeps us focused,” he said. “We have the capability to do the graphic design and creative work, but we also have the programming capabilities and understanding of technology and how it all integrates.”

About half of Imagin’s business is Web site development, Holmes said.

“In the last three or four years, many companies have popped up with Web sites,” said Holmes. “But people have realized that just having a Web site is not the answer to marketing and business. They have to have a Web site that is intuitive, easy to navigate and that people can find. There’s a way to promote a site so that when people type in a particular subject matter or name of company, yours will come up in the first five or 10. If your Web site is not promoted properly, it will never be found.”

Interactive business cards (e-CDs), the hottest marketing and communication tool for companies, are in high demand, he said.

“CD-ROM business cards are fairly new to this area,” Holmes said. “CD-ROM business cards are burned with a presentation on them and dye cut to any shape. It’s a very neat concept that is most often used at trade shows or in promotional pieces or presentations. The beauty of it is that you can get a standardized card, which looks like a business card, or you can have your own design or logo stamped. It’s flexible the way it’s manufactured. There are a lot of resellers, but only two or three manufacturers.”

One of the company’s first major accounts, Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co., contracted Imagin to develop interactive CD-ROMs to recruit new agents.

“We integrate technology as part of a company’s marketing plan,” Holmes said. “People are starting to become accustomed to the Internet. It’s almost an expectation now to provide customers with a strong Internet approach or a strong kiosk for their tradeshows or CD-ROMs that business reps can hand to prospective clients to help sell products and services.”

By the time companies contact Imagin, their marketing plan is usually in place, said Nola Nicholas, marketing director.

“The multimedia and Internet design comes from overall marketing strategies already established by the company and maybe even their advertising agency,” she said. “All we’re doing is taking it to a different level of technology.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.

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