If you’re looking for a way to access your local community in an unconventional, less promotional way, event sponsorship is a great option. Not only does it get more eyeballs on your company name and logo, it can also be a really effective brand-building tool.

Discussing a Levi’s sponsorship of the GranFondo bike event, marketing expert Greg Fisher says, “Participants are having an exceptional experience…and your brand is right there. People recognize and remember that your brand helped them have their best day of the year [on their bike].” Basically, it’s all about helping people associate your brand with a positive experience they had.

Once you decide that event sponsorship is for you, there are 5 essential steps to take to ensure that you get your time and money’s worth for the effort:

1. Define Your Goals
As with any new marketing strategy you want to try, make sure that your very first move is to define exactly what you’re trying to get out of it, and how you’ll measure that return. What will success look like for you? Do you want to get exposure for a new business? Build the brand of your current business? Change the image of your company? Walk away with business leads? Make sure your goals are clearly defined, and then work with the event’s organizer to make sure they’re attainable.

2. Choose Wisely
Make sure the event you choose to sponsor is a good fit for your business. Sponsoring the biggest event in town does you far less good than a smaller event where your target audience will be present. Also, if there are other brands sponsoring the event as well, make sure it’s something you want to be associated with. If the other sponsors’ values are different from yours, you run the risk of having your brand associated with them, not just with the even you are sponsoring.

3. Get Organized
In addition to whatever branded items you’ll be providing for the event (banners, jerseys, t-shirts, etc.) make sure you remember the little things too. If one of your goals for this event is to collect leads for your contacts database, it would be a good idea to make sure you have something to collect them with. Like, a pre-made signup list, clipboard, and of course — pens. Also make sure that you have any take-away materials you want to hand out prepared, like extra business cards, brochures, and other promotional items.

4. Stay Involved
As we discussed at the top of this article, the whole point of sponsoring an event is to have its attendees associate a good time with your brand. So make sure they’re going to have one. You’re putting a lot of time and money into this event, and you have every right to check in on the progress and planning and express concerns if you see things falling through the cracks.

5. Assess Your Results
As you would with any marketing activity, take time after the event to measure the success (or otherwise) of the event. Remember those goals you set at the beginning? Check up on those and see how you did. Hopefully when you set them up, you remembered to figure out how you were going to gauge the outcome. If your goal was brand building, this can be a little more difficult. The effects of brand building are ongoing and they build over time. You could always keep an eye on things like website visitors and Facebook fans to see if you’ve increased awareness and people’s desire to engage with you. If your goal was to get more leads, that should be easy to measure with the number of email addresses you picked up on that signup sheet you remembered to bring!

Have you ever sponsored an event? How did it go? We’d love to hear about your experience.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Webs. Loves branding, marketing, whales. Get more from Sarah on Webs’ Blog and Google+.

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