How Manufacturers Can Learn from the Success of Emerson’s STEM Marketing Strategy

Appealing to millennials who are making careers in science, technology, education and math is becoming a top priority for manufacturing CEOs as the fate of nearly every industrial vertical these days increasingly is tied to innovation in digital technology and other “STEM” disciplines.

That’s why a year-long campaign launched in February by Emerson Electric toward exactly this demographic was so important for the Ferguson, Mo.-based diversified manufacturer, whose largest business measures things such as temperature, flow and pressure for chemical and food makers, oil and gas producers and pipeline companies. And it may contain lessons for other manufacturing leaders.

Emerson kicked off an “I love STEM” marketing campaign with a high-profile television ad and an affiliation with wildly popular, self-proclaimed online “science nerd” Hank Green in connection with the company’s 125th anniversary in 2015. By partnering with Green, Emerson tapped into more than 8 million YouTube subscribers and more than 1 billion video views as well as gaining credible access to a younger, science-minded audience.

“The results of engagement around Emerson’s ‘I love STEM’ digital campaign have far exceeded Emerson’s expectations.”

“Emerson gets it,” said a new report by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and BusinessOnline. “Today’s youth communicate and consume media differently and digitally—not via traditional media,” said a MAPI report on digital marketing by B2B manufacturers. “Peer influence and opinion matter, and Green’s popularity speaks to his connection to young men and women by making science and math fun. The results of engagement around Emerson’s ‘I love STEM’ digital campaign have far exceeded Emerson’s expectations and are moving STEM education forward.

“The surprise result? Engineers, business people and employees of all age ranges who are embracing Emerson’s ‘I Love STEM’ initiatives.”

Emerson kicked off the campaign with a TV ad featuring Green that aired during The Big Bang Theory  in 13 key markets with universities where Emerson recruits new talent. In July, the company sponsored the #STEMSolve conference in San Diego where Green’s “I Love Science” video was played at the kickoff.

The company also took out creative print ads in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and Fortune, launched an ongoing social-media campaign and incorporated internal enthusiasm over the 125th anniversary.

“It’s the most well received thing we’ve done,” Emerson Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Button Bell recently told The Economist. “and I think it’s because it’s earnestly good at its center. I’m not trying to sell valves or motors to someone. [We’re] trying to sell tomorrow. People respond to it and the media response to it has been incredibly rewarding.”

Like Emerson, by engaging millennials on their turf in something they are interested in, you could attract and engage new employees, and retain them for the long-term.


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