How the Tom Irwin brand makes the world a more beautiful place for their clients
Tom Irwin, Inc. sells and distributes seed, fertilizers, growth agents and other supplies needed by golf superintendents, groundskeepers and town Park and Recreation commissioners to maintain championship playing surfaces and beautify public spaces. But, as I came to discover, they do so much more.
The people of Tom Irwin believe they can create more rewarding lives and careers for their clients by sharing in their challenges and providing the support to succeed in all their endeavors.
I was skeptical at first
When I was contacted by Tom Irwin to give them an estimate to create their first web site, I was hesitant: Here was a company that had been around nearly 50 years, and didn't have an online presence. Would they understand what was required to make their web site a key component of their marketing program? I agreed to meet with them, not expecting the encounter to go very far.
But what I found was one of the smartest marketers I had ever met.
Tom Irwin has mastered the science of turf management as well as any supplier in their market. This is significant. But what makes the biggest difference to their clients is that Tom Irwin has deep insight into the challenges they face.
Beyond the detailed psychological profiling and market analysis they do, many Tom Irwin salesman have been in their client’s shoes, having performed the jobs of Turf Managers and Golf Superintendents earlier in their own careers. (Talk about knowing your audience!)
Getting to the heart of the Tom Irwin brand
While other supply salesmen take orders and deliver products, the people of Tom Irwin are on a mission to help their clients succeed on every level. Not just in their immediate goal of maintaining championship-quality fields and fairways, but in their careers and their lives.
The people of Tom Irwin view themselves as collaborative team players who deliver the assist, just when it’s needed on a personal or professional level. They’ve developed and nurtured an entire ecosystem of industry partners to provide leadership training, agronomic science and product innovation to their clients.
Not surprisingly, this approach produces the finest playing surfaces, ball fields, and public spaces in the New England region, as well as some of the most successful careers. It also produces intensely loyal clients.
Articulating their uniqueness
Our job was to convey what it means to the clients and employees of Tom Irwin on a brand level, and turn it into a communications system so they could attract more of their ideal clients.
Through a discovery process with the people at Tom Irwin and focused client interviews, we came to the realization that it’s not just about providing expertise and the right set of products at the right time, it’s also about being a comrade who’s present and shares responsibility for the results. This is a stark contrast to competitors' salespeople who show up mostly to take an order. From these discoveries a fitting brand mantra emerged…
“With Tom Irwin, you’re not alone.”
Through this lens, everything Tom Irwin does has a meaningful context to clients who have huge responsibilities and few allies—who may not be noticed when their job is done well, but fail publicly when things go wrong.
When it’s late August and you haven't seen rain in three weeks, you’re not alone.
When budgets have been cut, but expectations have not, you’re not alone.
When you want to take your leadership skills and your agronomic expertise to the next level, you’re not alone.
This expression of the Tom Irwin brand guides the company in everything they do for their clients, creating true believers who consistently spread the word to their colleagues in the business.
We worked with a number of branding and marketing companies in the past. We continually found these companies lacking because they never sought to know us, or what we stood for in our business community.
That changed when we met Jon Pietz at Brand X. He immersed himself in our culture in order to discover who we were and why we went into business. The result is a solid brand, defined and promoted in the most effective ways we could have imagined.
Paul Skafas, Vice President, Tom Irwin, Inc.