Presented by Cvent

The return of in-person trade shows is welcome news to most marketers. There are few marketing channels that generate more qualified leads and grow relationships better than a trade show. As we return to these types of events however, you might be wondering how to really make the most of these experiences and ensure you see a positive return on your investment.  

A primer for the return to in-person: Typical traps

A great way to approach trade shows in 2022 is to measure yourself as an organization. Are you simply re-booting your pre-pandemic processes? Or are you taking a modern approach? While trade shows provide many unique networking opportunities, most organizations are just scratching the surface when it comes to ROI because of outdated thinking.

One example is the common business card. These cards collected at the show are either still in the hands of their sales representatives or hurriedly typed into an excel file waiting to be uploaded into the CRM. Old School thinking not exactly in line with our new digital world. Here are some of the common problems faced by trade show marketers after an event:

  • Inconsistent data uploaded into the CRM
  • Slow follow-ups causing hot and warm leads to cool
  • Inaccurate ROI analysis due to inconsistent data
  • Dealing with new lead retrieval providers each time
  • Proving the overall impact and success of the event

Leading marketers are saying goodbye more and more to manual processes, because frankly, whenever data is entered manually, there is a high risk of human error and missing critical information. So, how can trade show marketers avoid reinventing the wheel each time in the future? By honing strategy, moving towards more digital solutions, and focusing on the three phases of the trade show marketing process.

Maximizing your strategy for better ROI

We spoke a bit about data above. Let’s dig into it a little more here, because it is crucial to improve data visibility in order to prove the impact of your trade show. Today, the right technology can easily help take conversations from the floor to your sales team at the tap of a button.

You need trade show solutions that can help you at each stage of your event, be it pre-event appointments, onsite lead capture, post-event reporting or off-site networking events after the show. Let’s look at how you maximize your trade show strategy during these phases:

Before the trade show

  1. Attract qualified booth visitors: Planners and marketers spend a huge amount of money preparing their booths with the perfect lighting, setup and location to attract visitors. Relying on foot traffic is a gamble. To attract qualified attendees, get ahead of the game and pre-schedule appointments with predetermined time slots before the event starts.
  2. Self-schedule appointments: Another way to increase traffic to your booth is by giving attendees the ability to self-schedule appointments before the event via a shareable link for promotions and eliminate the need for an intermediary. You could also use appointment scheduling tools to create and edit meetings on another’s behalf, view them by location and manage approvals for executive-level meetings, room reservations and sending emails.

During the trade show

  1. Capture leads instantly: Setting up appointments is only half the battle. Collecting and managing leads on the day is crucial for your event ROI. Speed and efficiency is the #1 rule here. One way to achieve this is to empower your sales representatives and SMEs at the trade show to instantly capture and manage leads right from the floor with lead capture devices. It will allow them to check-in attendees, view meetings, take notes, qualify leads and share e-literature then and there.
  2. Three ways to capture leads: Using the aforementioned lead capturing technology, you can instantly capture leads in three ways: business card scans, QR code/bar code scans, and manual entry into the app. This is as simple as keeping your smartphone handy to scan those badges or business cards and send them straight to their sales teams, all within a matter of minutes. Hot leads, still hot.

After the trade show

  1. Integration to marketing technology: Disparate, or “point solutions,” can sometimes undo all the care you’ve taken to automate your processes and digitize your lead gathering. Trade show technology with an integration hub can help you build the MarTech integrations suitable to your business or organization, so your data can flow seamlessly through your tech stack. Data that cannot be found is meaningless.
  2. Post-show actionable insights: Once the show is over, a post-mortem is inevitable. Prepare yourself beforehand by asking yourself these questions: Why was a certain meeting important? What was the attendee interested in? Why should they be moved to the next phase in the pipeline? Trade show solutions with event reporting and insights can help you answer such questions and compare the revenue generated from attending or hosting various trade shows, therefore futureproofing your strategy.


As you plan and strategize for in-person and hybrid events in the future, be fully prepared and stay one step ahead by streamlining your processes. It’s a new digital-first world, and that has had significant impact on in-person events as well.

Learn more about how Cvent can help maximize the ROI at your trade shows.

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