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NC State Extension

Building an Effective Marketing Plan

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Marketing is an essential element of programmatic success. Marketing provides the opportunity to build awareness of Extension’s programs and services; it also helps you to understand your customers’ needs, where you need to make changes, and how to serve information to them in a more impactful way.

Building an Effective Marketing Plan is a statewide effort to take the uncertainty out of marketing planning. A workbook offers step-by-step instructions for your county center in a “workshop” format, after which your group will have a marketing action plan targeting your customers’ specific needs.

The final takeaway is a single-page marketing plan that will provide a strategic blueprint for your team, foster cohesion across local programs and help everyone report targeted impacts for the year.

Workbook Process Overview

Local larketing planning flow chart outline for N.C. Cooperative Extension

Click to view a flow chart overview (PDF)

Planning Resources

Review the tools below for assistance as you work through your local marketing planning process. We’ll be developing and sharing more resources on this site to support your ongoing marketing efforts.

Core Materials

marketing plan diagram

Click image to view the final marketing plan summary sheet | Download PPT template

Support Items

Visit the N.C. Cooperative Extension Brand Site for more resources.

Strategic Messaging Framework | We Grow NC

CALS has introduced a messaging campaign with the theme of “We Grow NC.

The We Grow NC campaign is built around four strategic themes that Extension supports across the state. Everything that Extension does can be categorized into one or more of these themes:

  • We Grow Economies
  • We Grow Opportunities
  • We Grow Solutions
  • We Grow Access

As the boots-on-the-ground interface for much of what NC State and CALS offers, as well as N.C. A&T, Extension invites county centers to utilize the We Grow NC messaging in your local outreach, which will directly connect your programs to the broader campaign messaging and bolster awareness for everyone’s efforts.

How are your county center’s programs working to grow your county? Often, the major theme areas can be too broad for a specific message, but the We Grow NC framework allows you to create your own supporting message that directly relates to your program.

For example, how are you growing communities? Perhaps your FCS agent is offering a healthy cooking program like Med Instead of Meds. To promote this program, you might consider messaging like, “Extension in County Name is growing healthy citizens.” A possible headline could simply read, “We Grow Healthy Citizens.”

Similarly, a key ag program or workshop likely supports the local economy by helping farmers increase profits. In that case, “We Grow Economies” is an appropriate theme. Messaging to promote your workshop could be, “We Grow Farm Profits” or “Extension Grows Higher Crop Yields.”

Get creative – what you and your team do every day is growing this state and your county – it’s time to start talking about it! Need help coming up with the We Grow language?


Contact NC State Extension Marketing and Communications with feedback. You can also find details for other valuable resources and marketing initiatives.