In an ideal world, before beginning a program, you’d conduct needs assessments, feasibility studies, marketing studies (product, place, price, promotion), etc., creating the program and its story (Step 3) before beginning the marketing work in Steps 1 and 2.

However, many of our programs are already up and running. It’s not always possible to pause programming to go back and do research and story development. In which case, work now towards getting basic (Step 1) and additional (Step 2) marketing information out about your programs, expanding into Step 3 as you’re able.

Know that Steps 1-3 aren’t always linear. And, they’re a marathon, not a sprint. Work through them at your sustainable pace, as makes sense for your program, drawing on your and other teams in the College for support.

Step 1: Capture and communicate the basic program information that your stakeholders need
 

Website marketing

  • You’ve created a webpage or subsite for your program on the Extension website
    • The program page or subsite’s title is:
      • The name of your program.
      • Free from jargon, acronyms or abbreviations.
      • Consistent with the program’s social media hashtags.
    • Your program’s basic details are prominently displayed on your program page or subsite, including the program’s:
      • Contact name, email, phone and photo.
      • Season, schedule, dates, days and times.
      • Registration information and instructions.
      • Location with address, city, state and zip.
      • Parking and transportation information.
      • List of partners, funders and sponsors.
      • Event accessibility accommodations statement.
      • Value proposition and key messages (if you have them), as well as relevant Extension key messages.
  • You link to your website in all of your other marketing efforts:
    • In print (Banners, signs, flyers, brochures, etc.)
    • Online (Social media groups/posts, event calendar posts, etc.)
    • In updates to subscribers (Email announcements/newsletters, text messages, etc.)
  • You have set up analytics access with Robert.

Social media marketing

  • Your program has social media admins/contributors on Extension’s social media channels.
    • The channels used are appropriate for your audience and bandwidth.
    • You refer to your program across all platforms in a way that’s consistent with your program page/subsite’s title.
    • You repurpose your program page/subsite information in your social media posts.
    • You link to your program page/subsite in your social media posts.

Marketing schedule

  • You have thoughtfully determined your sustainable digital marketing pace.
    • You set a digital marketing schedule for the year. It includes:
      • The dates for when you will do annual maintenance:
        • Remove or consolidate duplicate pages.
        • Update or delete outdated content
        • Fix broken links.
      • The dates for everything that is going on and coming up AND:
      • When you plan to start promoting each happening.
      • When you would need to start working on those promotions in order to launch them on time.
      • Who is responsible for each of those tasks.
      • The resources and references needed to complete those tasks.
  • You update your program page/subsite according to that schedule.
  • You post to social media according to that schedule.

Step 2: Build upon the basics, growing stakeholder relationships, knowledge and skills, and empowering stakeholder action

Website marketing

  • You added to your website:
    • An interactive calendar of program happenings.
    • A secure way to register for and pay program fees online.
    • Additional, more detailed program information and resources for participants, partners and supporters.
    • Simple, short and easy subscriber sign-up forms.
    • You have created a bank of messages that you can reuse year after year, season after season.
      • On topics such as:
        • Program happenings and key messages.
        • Positive program attributes, impacts and success stories.
        • Relevant related information, facts, figures, and holidays or observances.
      • Using:
        • Your site’s analytics to guide content creation and organization.
        • The words that your audience uses and will search for to find your program.
        • Formats such as listicles, tips, how-to/checklists, guides, FAQs, glossaries, common mistakes, etc.
      • You use your content bank to refresh your website and social media, which you then send to your subscribers.

Social media marketing

  • Your social media posts:
    • Are consistent, reliable, accurate, engaging, professional and strategic.
    • Follow the College’s post checklist, and include:
      • A mix of message types (business and relational)
      • A mix of post types (text; links, photos, graphics, memes and cartoons; and prerecorded and live video).
      • Program happenings as interactive events/posts with reminder notifications.
      • Relevant shared posts from related, credible organizations, as appropriate.
      • Relevant shared user-generated content, as appropriate.

Subscriber marketing

  • You’re engaging in subscriber marketing:
    • You’ve subscribed to your lists the email addresses and/or cell phone numbers you already had on hand.
    • You’re now subscribing the new contacts coming in from your online and in-person sign-up forms.
    • You’ve set up templates for subscriber messaging with the College’s communications team.
    • You’re using those templates to send to your lists updates, announcements, reminders and/or newsletters.
    • Your subscriber messages are short, well-timed, actionable and link back to your page/subsite.
    • You make it easy for subscribers to update their subscription preferences or unsubscribe.

Community and media marketing

  • You’re engaging in community and media marketing:
    • You supplement organic (free) program media coverage with paid coverage.
    • You submit program happenings to community and media outlet calendars.

Marketing schedule

  • You’ve expanded your digital marketing schedule:
    • To include:
    • Sending subscriber marketing.
    • Supplementing free with paid media.
    • Submitting program happenings to community and media calendars.
  • According to that schedule, you’re:
    •  Sending subscriber marketing.
    • Supplementing free with paid media.
    • Submitting program happenings to community and media calendars.

Step 3: Create deeply engaging digital storytelling experiences that are consistent with the in-person program experience, building emotional ties with, inspiring and transforming stakeholders 

  • Create your program’s story:
    • Who are you?
    • What want to be?
    • What is special about you?
    • Why should people care that you exist?
    • What’s your vision?
      • How do you see the world?
      • What’s your purpose and role in it?
      • Why do you do what you do?
    • What’s your mission?
      • What do you do?
      • How do you do it?
      • Who do you do it for?
    • What are your values?
      • What will and won’t you do?
      • What do you stand for and promote?
    • What’s your tagline? How do you share your story with people in only a few words?
  • Weave your program’s story as naturally and authentically as possible into every aspect of your digital marketing work.
    • Make interacting with your digital marketing work an experience for people, one that’s consistent with the experience of engaging with your program in person.
    • Introduce and connect people to your program’s story in compelling ways that:
    • Draw your audience in, and inspire and entertain them.
    • Show them personal recognition, warmth and passion.
    • Build emotional ties and relationships with them.
    • Are authentic, honest, transparent, humble and equitable.
    • Are consistent with and let your heartfelt values show.
Andrews, A. 2024, Digital marketing checklist for Extension programs, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno

Learn more about the author(s)