As a marketer, I'm always evaluating trade shows and sponsorship packages to determine how to spend my marketing promotion dollars in the upcoming year. Trade shows play an important role in my business as they do in yours. These events provide a platform for building your company’s brand equity, showcasing thought leadership and of course, bringing in the sale.

Contemplate these six reasons for allocating some of your marketing dollars to sponsorships.

1. Put your business in the spotlight. Having a presence at a conference or business event positions you and your business as an authority in your industry. You gain respect and credibility by standing out from the pack of attendees and prominently displaying your products and marketing materials. Instead of just attending an event and looking for people with which to share your business card, sponsorship brings attendees who are eager to find out about your business directly to you.

2. Get in front of your target market. The show’s organizers are spending time and money marketing the event to your target audience and bringing these attendees into the room. Your job is to come prepared to take full advantage of this opportunity by making sure to create eye catching, professional signs, marketing materials and product displays that draw attendees to you.

3. Focus on lead generation and new contacts. Be sure to have some sort of lead generation system in place the day of the event. People will give their business cards and email addresses in exchange for a chance to win a great prize in a drawing, samples or even candy and other promotional item giveaways. And definitely, early in the planning process, give thoughtful consideration to the promotional item you want to hand out during the event.

4. Get your brand noticed. Being featured in the program book of the event, having your logo on the event’s website and adding a promotional product to attendee gift bags are all great ways to leverage your sponsorship and get brand recognition.

5. New clients and new customers mean business. Not only are the attendees of the event potential new clients and customers, so are your fellow sponsors and vendors. You can form new business partnerships at events and meet like-minded business professionals in complimentary businesses with which you share the same target market but are not in competition.

6. Give attendees a “taste” of your business. Bringing samples to an event as giveawaysis a terrific way to capture attention from attendees. Be creative and think of out-of-the-box ways to stand out. By sharing a sample or trial offer of your product, you engage attendees and increase your chances of turning them into new customers