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CASE STUDY: John Tom’s Barbecue

Using redMAP gave the company an actionable marketing roadmap with clear objectives and next steps to take to reach their goals.


John Tom’s Barbeque was created from the inspiration of John Tom Branson. Born in the Deep South, he relocated his family to Indiana, where he continued to define his barbecue passion. It was his secret sauce that made him a BBQ legend. 

John Tom’s eldest grandson—Lathay Pegues—was usually right by his side, helping prepare each batch. And while he was too young to remember the exact recipe, Lathay tried to replicate the secret formula years after John Tom passed away. After nearly five years of trial and error, he still hadn’t duplicated his grandpa’s recipe. Instead, he created his own which he rightfully called… John Tom’s Barbecue Sauce. Lathay, along with another grandson, Terrell Cooper, and a good friend, Rodney Robinson, started the business in 2006. The business really took off in 2014 when Lathay started focusing full-time on JohnTom’s.

  • John Tom’s Barbecue had a great family story, but was challenged when it came to brand storytelling. 
  • Initially, only one of the three owners was able to focus on the company full-time. The other two had additional full-time jobs.
  • They were doing a lot of grassroots marketing (farmer’s markets, local Muncie events, etc) but weren’t able to get awareness like they had hoped.
  • B2B sales and marketing was done organically with no way to track the sales process.
  • The partners had very little ability to forecast sales or track inventory.

Our goal for this project was to help John Tom’s Barbecue create a successful strategy that would allow the company to grow and get beyond their plateau.


To begin the process, we had the three founders complete our redMAP assessment. We felt they needed to discover their strengths and weaknesses, as well as find out where the company had gaps within their marketing foundation.

Once the redMAP was completed, we were able to suggest some key steps to get the company started on executing their plan. With the data, we were able to present a 12-month marketing roadmap with easy, actionable items to move John Tom’s Barbecue closer to their goals.

To assist them in executing this plan, we helped them get onboarded to Hubspot Marketing Hub and Sales Hub for customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing. Our other team partners assisted with SEO, Facebook advertising, and overall marketing/PR.


  1. With the redMAP,  John Tom’s got a custom marketing foundation assessment that paved the marketing path and enabled our team to assist in executing the plan. Setting up a CRM (Hubspot) allowed the team to track prospects in the entire sales process, as well as do data forecasting and deal tracking.
  2. Also through Hubspot, we helped brand a newsletter campaign that gave the team the ability to tell the story of John Tom’s Barbecue to a segmented and engaged audience.
“Tomato Fish is a very supportive and overall knowledgeable team. They are trusted partners that are well informed with proactive solutions.”

– Terrell Cooper, John Tom’s Barbecue

John Tom's Barbecue logo