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NC State Extension

Marketing With the eXtension Ask an Expert Widget

Are we all making full use of the eXtension Ask an Expert widget as a marketing resource?

The eXtension Ask an Expert widget offers us two avenues for marketing N.C. Cooperative Extension.

First, the widget offers us clear opportunities to promote upcoming activities, to recommend Extension publications and web sites, and to invite users to join Extension-sponsored groups, such as 4-H, ECA, and Master Gardeners.

So, when we get a widget question about food safety, for example, in addition to answering the question, we can invite the widget customer to our upcoming food safety workshops, and we can share links to Extension food safety web resources. We even might mention Extension’s role in providing ServSafe training for area restaurants.

In the answer to a beef cattle widget question, we could include an invitation to the 4-H steer show, or we could suggest that the customer register to receive our monthly livestock newsletter.

The opportunities for such direct marketing of Extension’s educational resources in our replies to widget questions are almost limitless!

The other avenue for marketing Cooperative Extension via the Ask an Expert widget is less direct but perhaps even more important. When we answer widget questions, we should convey in our responses the same cordial and friendly tone that we’d show to clients who visit our Extension centers in person.

As we deal with overloaded schedules and pressing deadlines, it might be tempting to zip off terse responses to those widget questions from anonymous customers. But for many widget customers, Ask an Expert is likely to be their only experience with Cooperative Extension. Because we want their experiences to be positive, we should accord widget customers the same warmth that we’d show to the more traditional client with whom we work on a first-name basis. Taking a little extra time to give our widget answers that “human touch” can be a powerful marketing resource for Cooperative Extension.

A first step in marketing Extension with a human touch is to append contact information to every widget response. That’s why we all should have signature files* in our Ask an Expert preferences.

Marketing is of utmost importance to Cooperative Extension. Now that answering widget questions has become a routine part of our daily work, let’s capitalize on Ask an Expert’s marketing power with every reply that we send.

After authenticating, look under the General tab and find the email signature box near the bottom of the page. Enter your information, and click Save email signature changes. The signature file will appear with each widget answer you send, and you still can edit the signature information on a per-question basis.

Written by Adrian Gaskins