If only you could read your booth visitors' minds… well, you sort of can. The tried and true trade show booth exit survey remains the best tool for soliciting direct feedback on how your exhibit is performing.

Whether you want to quantify how your exhibit experience has impacted attendees' likelihood to buy, or determine which aspects of your exhibit engagement were most useful to attendees—an exit survey is the best tool at your disposal.

So what specific questions should you include on your survey? This gets complicated since there are an infinite number of possible questions and, realistically,you only have time to ask five or six.

Our 3D Exhibits measurement team recommends that you match your questions to your top objectives—which are likely to relate to awareness, perception, or likelihood to purchase. You can also use your surveys to determine which aspects of your booth are producing the greatest return.

Here are five exit survey questions we love to use. Feel free to adapt them to your own needs:

1. Brand awareness and impact on perception of your brand    

Most companies' trade show objectives are to increase brand awareness and/or improve the perception of their brand. The following question will enable you to quantify whether or not your exhibit is moving the needle. We've written this question for impact on perception, but with minor edits, the question can be re-written to measure brand awareness.

Q: How did your visit to our exhibit today impact your perception of our brand? After my visit, my feelings toward your brand are: (select one)    

__ Significantly more positive    

__More positive    

__Unchanged (but positive)    

__Unchanged (but not positive)    

__Less positive    


2. Impact of the exhibit experience on intent to purchase    

Although companies attend trade shows for a variety of reasons, the ultimate goal of every trade show booth is to drive sales. It's notoriously difficult to tie sales directly to trade show presence, but you can get an idea of what ROI to expect by asking visitors how the exhibit experience impacted their intent to purchase. The phrasing of this question sifts out the difference between preference for new products versus existing products.        

How will your experience in the booth today impact your annual purchasing plan?    

(check all that apply)    

___I plan to buy new products that I learned about today    

___I plan to buy more of the products I already purchase    

___I plan to buy about the same amount of the products I already purchase    

___I plan to buy fewer of the products I already purchase than last year    

___I do not plan to buy any of the new products that I learned about today    


3. Which activities or promotions are driving traffic    

The success of a trade show exhibit hinges on its ability to attract your target audience, but audience drivers can be expensive. Therefore, it makes sense to use your exit survey to determine which audience drivers are performing—and which can be dropped or replaced.

Q: How heavily did these communications/elements impact your decision to visit our booth?

1=Not at all
3=Very Heavily
4=I did not see/participate in this element                        

a)Pre-show email            

b)Ad in the conference program            

c)In-booth live presentation            

d)Stuffed animal giveaway            

e)A recommendation from a colleague            

f)Our reputation (you would have visited no matter what)            


4. Effectiveness of specific activities or aspects of the exhibit            

The question below can be adjusted to evaluate virtually any element of your trade show marketing program and the results can be used to tweak your program. The question can even be used to measure if the attendee received key messages. The format below allows you to ask multiple questions without dramatically increasing the burden on the attendee by using the same rating scale for each question.            

Q: Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements:                    

1 = strongly disagree
2 = disagree
3 = neutral
4 = agree
5 = strongly agree
6 = not applicable                                                        

a)Once I entered the booth, it was easy for me to find the information I was looking for.

b)I found the content at the demo stations useful.    

c)I wanted the giveaway (travel mug).    

d)While using the touch screens I learned that the company's new product improves performance by 50%.    

e)The company's education sponsorship at this show enhances my perception of them as an industry leader.    


5. Staff performance    

While you may observe your exhibit staff in action, no one's opinion of their performance matters more than that of your clients and prospects. One recommendation is if you're going to assess staff performance using a survey, make it clear that the surveyors are third-party representatives. You'll get more honest answers that way.

Q: Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements:    

1 = strongly disagree
2 = disagree3 = neutral
4 = agree
5 = strongly agree
6 = not applicable                                        

a)I was greeted by a member of the exhibit staff right away.            

b)The person I spoke to in the exhibit was attentive and knowledgeable.            

c)The person I spoke to identified my needs and tailored the conversation to address my business challenges.              

Finally, as a general guideline, be careful not to overload attendees with too many survey questions. Unless you are giving away a very valuable incentive for taking the survey (say, a $50 gift card), don't ask more than 5-7 questions. To keep survey times short and make it easier to graph responses and identify trends, always use multiple choice questions.