Denise Essman


Denise Essman is President and CEO of the Essman/Associates, an integrated marketing communications company located in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Essman has more than 40 years of marketing research, planning, branding and communications experience. She develops and implements tremendously successful marketing research and integrated marketing communications programs. She directs company operations, oversees client services and leads strategic marketing planning for clients. She works with local, regional, national and international clients from startups to Fortune 500 Companies in diverse industries including financial services, healthcare, education, telecommunications, B2B, agriculture, associations, and not-for-profit.

Essman also owned Essman/Research, founded in 1984, which was acquired by the State Public Policy Group (SPPG) in May 2017. Essman Research conducts value-added research to gather important insights for strategic decision-making. Research services include qualitative research (focus groups, mystery shopping, one-on-one interviews and usability testing) and quantitative research (online, mail and telephone surveys). For 18 consecutive years, Essman/ Research has been recognized as a "top-rated focus facility" by moderators and researchers around the world who participated in the Impulse Survey of Focus Facilities conducted by the Impulse Research Corporation in Los Angeles, CA. The ratings are based on the following factors: recruiting, personnel, physical facility, location, food and overall value.

Essman’s marketing skills have been instrumental in defining and structuring successful integrated marketing programs that achieve or exceed client goals and maximize return on their marketing investments.

Essman/Associates has won numerous international, national and local awards for outstanding marketing campaigns, branding, public relations, advertising, graphic design and multimedia programs over the past several years as well as the "Celebrate Business" Community Champion Award sponsored by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Business Publications and RSM McGladrey, for contributions to the Greater Des Moines Community. Most importantly, client marketing programs get results!

Essman was Woman Business Owner of the Year in 2010, sponsored by Business Publications. She is an ISU Governor, serves on the Iowa State University Research Park Board, Primary Health Care Board, John Stoddard Cancer Center Board, Rotary Club of Des Moines Board, National Advisory Board for the Drake University College of Business and the Advisory Council for the ISU Greenlee Journalism School. Essman has also served on the Association of Business & Industry and Leadership Iowa Boards, the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center Board, Goodwill Industries, United Way of Central Iowa, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Iowa Environmental Council Board and the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Board, the Communications Advisory Committee, Leadership Council for Choose Des Moines Communities, Project Destiny and Buy into the Circle as well as numerous other civic and community organizations. She is a Rotarian and ISU Extension Master Gardener.

Essman was elected and served six years on the national Board of the American Marketing Association AMA) representing a 17-state region and was President of the Iowa Chapter, AMA. Essman was appointed to the Small Business Advisory Council by Governor Vilsack. She was selected to participate in both Leadership Iowa, sponsored by the Association of Business and Industry (ABI), and the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who in the Midwest. The Des Moines Register also selected Essman as an “Up-and-Comer” Business Leader of Iowa in 1987.

In addition to her involvement at Essman/Associates since its beginning in 1977, Essman was a manager at Bankers Life (The Principal Financial Group) and was the Vice President of Marketing Communications at the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Federation (Greater Des Moines Partnership). She was a marketing instructor at both Iowa State and Drake Universities, and was a consultant for the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).

Essman received a B.S. in Marketing from Iowa State University, where Essman serves on the Board of Governors. She received an ISU Alumni Citation of Achievement Award and the John DeVries Service Award. Essman also received an Honorary Chairman of Beta Gamma Sigma Honorary Fraternity from the ISU College of Business. Essman has an M.B.A. from Drake University and received the 2016 Woman of Impact Award from Drake.