The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has launched a $1 million marketing campaign to encourage young professionals in the Chicago area to consider living and working in Wisconsin.
The campaign, which places an emphasis on reaching millennials via popular social media platforms they use every day, began this week and runs through June 30. It includes ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pandora, and popular mobile phone apps.
The unprecedented campaign is part of the state’s comprehensive efforts to attract and retain talented workers in Wisconsin to meet the workforce demands of today and tomorrow. It marks the first time the state has embarked on a paid media strategy aimed at talent attraction.
“Wisconsin’s strong economy has resulted in the lowest unemployment levels in decades and a record labor participation rate, which means it’s more important than ever to attract and retain a strong talent pool,” said Governor Scott Walker. “WEDC’s strategic investment delivers the message to Chicago millennials that Wisconsin offers unlimited opportunities for personal, professional and business success.”
Key elements of the digital campaign include:
- paid social media posts aimed at users ages 21 to 35 within a 25-mile radius of downtown Chicago
- Facebook ads using the new “Canvas” platform and video-enabled Instagram Stories
- audio and video ads for the same targeted audience streaming on Pandora and YouTube
- geotargeted mobile ads on popular websites and apps
- application ads that dynamically calculate commute times and cost-of-living comparisons; and
- paid search advertising on Google and Bing search engines.
The campaign conveys the central idea that Wisconsin is “more you.” Here you can be more, mean more, create more impact and have more, making Wisconsin a better fit for you. To drive this point home, specific ads contrast life in Wisconsin with that in Chicago, highlighting the state’s shorter commute times, lower cost of living, lower taxes and numerous recreational, social and cultural opportunities.
The campaign also includes national social media ads launching in February that will encourage out-of-state alumni from Wisconsin colleges and universities to consider returning to the state.
“This non-traditional marketing campaign has been strategically designed to reach these individuals on the platforms and devices they use every day,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and COO of WEDC. “Whether they’re checking Instagram, watching videos on YouTube, listening to their playlist on Pandora or waiting for their train, young professionals in Chicago will become more aware of all our state has to offer them, and may see that Wisconsin is a better choice for their career and lifestyle.”
Braun said the campaign targets those who wanted the urban experience but have since become disillusioned with the daily challenges of a large metropolitan area such as Chicago and may not know much about Wisconsin.
“We recognize that it is common for millennials to seek opportunities in urban areas such as Chicago, but after a period of time many of them want to move away from the hassles of big-city living,” she said. “However, our research has shown that individuals living outside of Wisconsin have a very limited perception of the opportunities – both career and lifestyle – that are available in our state.”
The campaign also includes:
- ads on the interior and exterior of Chicago Transit Authority “L” trains;
- posters at selected health clubs in downtown Chicago;
- ads on drink coasters at downtown bars and restaurants; and
- sponsored posts on Facebook and LinkedIn encouraging out-of-state alumni of Wisconsin colleges and universities to consider returning to the state.
WEDC also has redesigned its InWisconsin.com website to better demonstrate Wisconsin’s many business and lifestyle attributes to business leaders and people looking for the best place to pursue their passions.
The new site employs the latest online design and user experience standards, including stunning videos, beautiful photography, compelling data and powerful testimonials that underscore how good life is in Wisconsin. Each region of the state has its own information-rich page built in collaboration with local and regional economic development partners. The site is built to convert “shoppers” into “buyers,” with home search options and job search functionality powered by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Job Center of Wisconsin.
Business and young professional leaders throughout the state are applauding the initiative as a way to help address Wisconsin’s workforce challenges.
"The time is now to be proactive - instead of reactive - about our state's talent needs,” said Angela Damiani, CEO of NEWaukee, a social architecture firm and organizer of the annual YPWeek series of events for young professionals. “This is an exciting and progressive approach to attracting those just across the state's border and perhaps looking for an ideal lifestyle. The campaign speaks to the value propositions the next generation of talent seeks."
“To ensure continued growth in Wisconsin’s economy, we must work together to fill the talent pipeline and develop innovative ways to make young professionals outside our state aware of the personal and professional opportunities that exist here,” said Wilson Jones, president and CEO of Oshkosh Corp. “This new initiative will help ensure that message reaches this key audience in the Chicago area.”
The WEDC marketing campaign is a component of Governor Walker’s Workforce Agenda, which focuses on enhancing Wisconsin’s workforce, removing barriers to work, and meeting the state’s current and future workforce needs.
As part of the Workforce Agenda, Governor Walker is asking the state legislature to pass legislation that would provide $6.8 million for a targeted, multiagency campaign to attract talent to Wisconsin. That proposal would leverage the resources and mission of WEDC, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Travel Wisconsin.
The additional funding would allow WEDC to expand its millennial and alumni attraction efforts to other markets. In addition, WEDC would work with other agencies to develop a targeted campaign to encourage out-of-state veterans and those soon retiring from the military to live and work in Wisconsin.
WEDC’s talent and attraction efforts embody Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin, a new unifying message that celebrates Wisconsin as a premier destination for business, career and personal fulfillment.