This article was updated in July 2022.
Event Marketing Hero: An interview with IronPath’s CEO, Ted Hulsy
Banzai’s Event Marketing Hero series profiles engagement marketing leaders who are changing the B2B marketing game through events and webinars.
Ted Hulsy understands the power of events in B2B marketing. He utilizes events to power his relationship marketing by engaging with his audience, advancing the technology and security industries, and driving valuable business for his clients. Check out our latest Event Marketing Hero profile to learn how Ted approaches event marketing as a catalyst for relationship building and growth.
Building Relationships Through Engagement Marketing
Can you tell us more about IronPath and what your company does?
IronPath does demand generation marketing services for managed service providers (MSPs) and the technology vendors that are targeting that space.
Most companies that have less than a hundred employees outsource IT. They usually have a third party company that looks after all the technology for that organization. The outsourced IT teams are managed service providers.
Then there are a host of technology vendors, like Cisco and Microsoft and hundreds of other software companies that go-to-market through the service providers because they’re really the ones who make the technology decisions for the small and medium business world.
IronPath helps MSPs achieve growth in their businesses and drive demand. We also partner with the vendor side because that's their go-to-market channel. We work with MSPs to help them grow. A lot of it comes down to demand generation marketing and event marketing.
Why do MSPs outsource their demand and event marketing?
Most of my clients have 15 to 20 employees with the majority of those employees in technical roles like help desk, field service engineers, and architects. People who are really good with technology.
There are not a lot of people who are doing marketing or even sales. It's usually the business owner who does a lot of the sales--or they have a small and growing sales team. In many cases, they don't have anyone dedicated full-time to marketing.
Marketing ends up being a challenge for a lot of my clients and that's why there is an opportunity to support them in this way.
What motivated you to branch out on your own and start IronPath?
The traditional market I serve, the MSPs, they're maturing. The industry is maturing. The companies are becoming larger and as they become larger, marketing becomes a bigger opportunity.
To drive the right amounts of revenue growth, these companies have to get to the next leg of growth and size with marketing. They've built a small sales team of two to four people. Now, the next question is, okay, are you delivering a steady stream of leads--qualified leads--to your sales team?
That’s where marketing comes in. There's a hole in the market and there are literally thousands of managed service providers in North America, Europe, and Asia. So the industry is in a state where it's very mature. There's a huge need for marketing assistance and marketing services to help these companies get to the next leg of growth. That’s the business opportunity identified in the market where I want to grow my practice to serve those clients.
What excites you about event marketing?
Event marketing utilizes in-person or digital experiences to connect a company with their audience, enabling them to showcase a product or brand while building relationships and creating engagement opportunities.
I view events as the highest evolution of B2B marketing. I think event marketing is where content marketing and relationship marketing come together. In the B2B world, we're going to do all kinds of research before we do business with someone. We engage sales and get far down the buyer journey with content and that sort of thing. However, when we go to buy, when we go to make big strategic bets, when we go to standardize on a platform, we want relationships with the vendors we work with.
Event marketing is a way to deliver interesting and valuable content to your prospects, but also a way to meet the people behind the business and network and build relationships.
So that's why I've always been a big believer in event marketing.
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Can you dive into this idea of events and relationship marketing?
I've spent the bulk of my career in the IT channel space. Technology vendors go-to-market through channel partners who help drive the business out into the small and medium business market.
If you’re working at a technology vendor you're trying to build up your channel ecosystem. So you're often marketing to the channel partners. Channel partners are taking your vendor technology, whether it's a piece of software or a piece of networking gear, and they're not just buying that product, they're buying a business relationship with you, the vendor. That's where relationship marketing comes in. Relationship marketing is about continually nurturing your relationship with your prospects, customers, and partners, to ensure long term growth.
Relationship marketing is key to helping win that strategic sale of getting that channel partner to embrace your platform and to bake it into their business. Events are a great channel for building those valuable relationships.
How do you measure event marketing success?
The way I measure event success first and foremost is the audience at your events. Are they engaging with the content and do they come away better informed and excited? Do they consider the event a good use of their time?
To me, content is king. What gets people to register for events is the content and the promise of a truly educational opportunity. So the first way you measure success is just by surveying your audience.
Beyond that, you want to measure that the event marketing is driving business growth. Are you helping them find new clients, new revenue, new opportunities, and pipeline?
Other things I look at:
- Are you driving the registration process effectively?
- Are you getting a high turnout rate on your events?
- Do you have the right people at the event?
In the end, it’s really the audience's satisfaction with the event from an educational perspective. For my clients, I look at whether or not I’m helping them drive business growth.
Finally, what do you love the most about your job?
I work with the business owners of these managed service providers. These people are experts in their field. They know so much about technology, so much about security, so much about backup and productivity. But they’re often frustrated because they haven’t figured out the art and science of getting in front of an audience.
I want to create an opportunity where my client has the opportunity to bring in an outside expert or share the stage and do a significant part of the presentation because they’re experts in their field and they have a message to deliver.
It is extremely rewarding when I can deliver that opportunity for my clients to shine and to be on stage. I know I'm getting the job done when I see that happen.