This is a guest post from Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM and Director of Marketing Events for Treasure Island Wines, which is featured in the current issue of Smart Meetings. Felsher has also authored on social media strategy, between planning events such as Harvest Howl 2011.

Our brands are our babies. When we sponsor an event, we’re leaving them with someone else in charge – our brand babysitter. They must be treated respectfully, marketed properly, and fed their vegetables.

Keep these five tips in mind when starting your sponsorship, and you’ll be on track to making the most of the experience for your brand.

1. Getting Your “Gets”

Generally, when you agree to a sponsorship, your “gives,” (or what the host entity wants from you) are crystal clear: They want a certain number of dollars or a particular kind of product.

On the other hand, the “gets,” or what you get out of the arrangement, can be fuzzy. Make sure these are as specific as the gives before you finalize the contract. You may need to provide your own addendum to the agreement. For example, if you are exhibiting at the event and being stationed next to a competitor, that is a deal-breaker. This would need to be spelled out in the agreement.

2. Brand Guideline Integrity

Ensuring your brand guidelines are followed online and in print is a challenge. Make it easy for the event hosts to deliver them properly. Provide them with the correct file logos, designed for various applications and with very specific instructions. Legibility is critical, but be flexible about rules such as the white space around your logo and the minimum size.

To avoid unpleasant surprises, monitor published materials early and often. Create your own detailed checklist based upon your brand guidelines. Ensure that these guidelines are written into your sponsorship agreement.

Checklist examples include: Have they used the right logo? Can you read your lock up or integrated tag line? Does your logo look pixilated? Did you provide the right logo for black/white background?

3. Thinking About Linking

It is not enough to make sure the links work. Are you sure you want that hyperlink to go to your website landing page?

Think about your audience and your goals and objectives. You may want to link directly to a special landing page or a specific offer that tells more of your story.

4. On-site Visibility

If you are the primary sponsor, it is reasonable to specify that you sign off on proofs of printed materials, such as marketing products, program guides and signage.

If you are a supporting sponsor, it is not realistic to do this. Instead, you can help to ensure your investment by making your requirements very specific in the agreement. Final payment and value of the overall sponsorship can be contingent on delivering on the “gets.”

5. Think Before and After

It is vital to think beyond the event. Activate your own promotion early and extend the sponsorship after the event.

You can find value in sponsoring videos or content from the event that both live attendees and non-attendees can access afterward. Remember, you may need to change the hyperlinks before and after the event so you are not repeating dated information.

Participating in and sponsoring segments of the online community for the event can leverage growth for your own community. This is perhaps the most frequently underutilized value of sponsorships.

It is great to dive into sponsoring an event, as long as you keep in mind your original goals throughout the experience. It is a wonderful opportunity to build a partnership and grow your own community; just be sure to keep these steps in mind, and you’ll be on your way to a beautiful sponsorship.

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