Whether you are planning a conference, symposium, exhibit, tradeshow or other event, Chameleon Creative Group’s Barbara Lorek, shares her insights for making your next event a success.

The Power of Three

What are the three most important things to consider when planning your event? Time, Quality, and Cost. These three things are interconnected and the better you understand how they affect each other, the better your planning will flow. Let’s see how this fits together.

1. Plan in Advance

More time translates into more options for you. And more options mean more control over your costs. It’s that simple. If you can plan far enough in advance, you can get the best possible price with the best selection of quality. The less time you have to work with, the less available choices you will have at your disposal and you may find that as those choices narrow, quality becomes sacrificed. What would you rather do, spend the extra money on an upgraded product or spend it on rush fees to get your product shipped on time? The choice is yours.

Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done. What happens if you’ve missed the boat and now you’re facing a very tight deadline? Take a breath because there’s still hope.

2. Check With Chameleon

We like to work with different vendors and suppliers that we can count on for producing a wide range of promotional items. Some vendors can address last minute needs and are able to deliver goods on a tight schedule. The good news is that many products that are produced in the USA have a turnaround time between 1 – 10 days. However, some products require a longer turnaround time. For example, certain kinds of emblematic jewelry (lapel pins) and other items coming from overseas as well as very high volume orders (5,000 to 10,000 in quantity) may take longer to produce and can take anywhere between 4 to 12 weeks. It’s always good to check first so you know your options and can budget your time accordingly.

3. Who is Your Audience?

Answer this question and you’ll get to the heart of what matters to them. Your audience might be widespread and consist of people from all walks of life. Or, perhaps they share specific characteristics and are narrowly defined. In any case, it’s important to understand who they are. Some things to consider are:

  • Demographics – Factors such as age, professional role, educational background and hobbies, amongst others, should be considered in determining who your audience is and what they are seeking. Are they fashion forward? Are they looking for the next hot tech item? Do they prefer US made products or those that are more sustainable?
  • Geography – How far is your audience traveling to get to your event? How long are they staying? The average tradeshow attendee may visit 40 – 100 exhibits over the course of 2 or 3 days.
  • Purpose – What lasting message do you want to give to your audience? For tradeshow exhibitors, what message do you want your visitors to get in the first three seconds? What drives your audience’s purchasing decisions? What do you want them to remember after leaving your event? Remember that your ultimate goal is to compel and engage your visitors.

Invitations (Save the Date)

Post Card Magnets

Post card magnets are an inexpensive way to get your message across.  Consider sending these out 3 to 6 months before your event as a Save The Date.  Attaching a magnet to a postcard increases the chances of people retaining that date by 75%.  Now your important event won’t get lost or buried in someone’s accumulating stack of papers. They are great for homecoming, reunions, weddings, anniversaries, and other milestone events.


Depending on your audience and your event, a simple evite may suffice to ensure attendance. However, sometime the circumstance warrants a more thoughtful touch with a beautifully printed and mailed invitation.  In either case, Emily Post recommends sending out invitations 3 – 6 weeks in advance of your event.

Display items and Giveaways

Eye Catching Displays

Whether you are designing a large trade show space or a simple tabletop display, the rules of welcoming design and clear messaging apply. Ask yourself and/or your team to think about the following, is your exhibit space approachable and professional? Does your space clearly convey what your company does?


Promotional Items.  Most people who attend tradeshow events expect to take home goodies.  Have plenty of giveaways so you don’t end up running out.  Giveaways are a great way to make a connection and can go a long way in furthering your brand and establishing a business relationship.  Writing utensils are a popular choice. Consider a pen with a capacitive stylus that works with iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, Droids and other touch screen devices.

What’s good to give?  With so many choices available, how do you pick the right gift? 

Give Them Something They Need

If you’re a tradeshow exhibitor, find out if your event is providing carrying totes or bags for attendees. Oftentimes they don’t and this is an excellent opportunity to provide something everyone will need. Your visitors will be grateful. And what better way to promote your brand than by displaying your company’s logo right on each tote? There are numerous options to suit different tastes and budgets.

Want something smaller for your visitors? Give them something that fits in the palm of their hand. Whether your event takes place in a conference room or a trade show floor, items like lip balm, hand sanitizer and breath mints are welcome gifts!

Go Green 

Given a choice between something that’s biodegradable or something that’s not, most people make the ecologically conscious choice. Awareness of environmental issues has grown markedly and a growing number of people are turning to green alternatives.  Brochures, containers and bags made from recycled paper, and reusable water bottles are a big hit with eco-friendly minded guests.

Tasty Treats

What’s great about giving out something sweet?  Mmmm… molded chocolates, mints, cookies.  Visitors will beeline straight to you. They are a great lure to your booth.  But what’s not so great about treats?  The truth is they don’t last long.  Once eaten, your visitor will move on to the next booth, your company’s name forgotten.  However, there is a way to overcome the problem of being too easily forgotten.  Consider placing your treat in a small container or tin that has your company’s logo on it.  When the treats are gone, the container will remain and can be used to hold countless other things.

Badges & Lanyards

Should you go with disposable or permanent?  Customized or uniform?  Again, it depends on your event, budget and purpose.  Disposables are generally cheaper to produce but are not eco-friendly.  Permanent badges and lanyards may cost more but are reusable and an excellent choice for staff members and employees, just to name a few.  And consider this—by adding a split ring to your lanyard it becomes a key chain and now you’ve decreased your carbon footprint and increased your organization’s branding at the same time.


T-shirts and polos are highly coveted and are a great way to increase your company or organization’s presence.  These should be ordered well in advance.  Use shirts to express individuality and style.  Bright colors make a bold statement and let you stand out from the crowd.

When your event is over you can pat yourself on the back.  But, there might be one more thing left to do.  Questions you might ask yourself are:  Do you want to send out thank you cards or surveys?  From post cards to gift baskets, there are endless ways to thank your volunteers, guest speakers, workers, etc.  Regarding surveys, do you want to send paper or electronic?

With so many choices out there and plenty of options available it’s good to know there are resources available to help you with these decisions.  Do you have a question?  Give us a call or shoot us an email.  We’d love to hear from you!

Some of our favorite items for event planning

46” Auto Open Umbrella

46” Auto Open, Fashion Umbrella

This umbrella has automatic opening, Pongee canopy (with 1” color trim), textured EVA foam handle, and 3” Rubberized safety top.

Color Splash Sport Pack

Color Splash Daypack

This 2-tone contour shaped microfiber and mesh day pack is  perfect for carrying your collectibles at a trade show.  Comes with a silver accent, open air mesh fabric back, sturdy reinforced bottom corners with strong grommet and cord drawstring construction, and a rubber ear bud port. There is a velcro inside pocket for your convenience and, it packs FLAT!
20.9oz Polar Tumbler

20.9oz Polar Tumbler

20.9 oz double wall 18/8 stainless steel thermal tumbler with copper vacuum insulation, high polish accent, clear acrylic push-on swivel lid, and powder coated finish · patent pending – gift box included