What Investor Relations Can Learn from Marketing

IR and marketing are often distinct functions — but is this a missed opportunity? Learn how marketing materials, strategies and partnerships can serve IR goals.
Idalia Rodriguez and Makela Taphorn
Apr 12, 2024

A blurred businesswoman is drawing and writing on a transparent board with various connected concepts such as "Strategic Plan," "Direction," "Goals," "Tactics," and "Key Performance Indicators" in a flowchart manner.Investor relations (IR) and marketing teams working together make a great partnership. They can provide significant value to an organization’s brand by fostering trust and engagement with stakeholders. However, in most organizations, these roles are separate and distinct. In our experience, investor relations professionals who align closely with their marketing teams amplify their company’s brand and strengthen their ability to engage and connect with quality investors.

For those of us in investor relations, thinking like a marketer may not be a natural way of approaching the function. IR is responsible for ensuring timely and transparent communications with shareholders about the company’s purpose, business model, growth strategy and results. Doing so successfully requires minimizing hype to maintain clarity and educate, not hard-sell.  After all, no investor wants to feel like they’re being sold to. 

However, a step back to survey the strategic landscape of marketing practices today reveals that marketing and IR have more in common than ever before. 

Marketing: From Driving Sales to Fostering Trust

Over the past decade, the marketing landscape has undergone a profound transformation. Gone are the days when marketing was solely about pushing products and driving sales. In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers crave authenticity and transparency. As a result, successful marketers have shifted their focus from primarily selling to establishing trust, building credibility and fostering meaningful engagement with customers.

The ideal foundation is no longer the tactical playbook of consumer product marketing but rather the long-term campaigns used by marketers of sophisticated B2B services to build authority in their field, foster trust with target audiences and ultimately educate the marketplace about their value proposition. By understanding and empathizing with the needs and preferences of customers, companies can tailor their messaging and offerings to resonate authentically, driving loyalty and advocacy.

Investor Relations: From Regulatory-Centric to Investor- and Trust-Centric

Similarly, the role of investor relations has evolved. Companies are recognizing the importance of engaging investors and building long-term relationships based on trust and mutual understanding. This involves providing consistent and transparent communication on what differentiates the company, how the company operates (its purpose, values and business model) and how it presents its long-term strategy, performance goals and risk management practices.

Today, the most effective and valued investor relations professionals are seen as strategic advisors who play a crucial role in shaping the company’s messaging based on meaningful dialogue and engagement with investors.

A Broader Focus for IR: From Shareholders to Stakeholders

In a shareholder-centric model, the primary aim is to maximize profits and shareholder value, perhaps at the expense of other stakeholders such as employees, customers and the community. This approach tends to prioritize short-term gains and can lead to decisions that prioritize the interests of shareholders over those of other stakeholders.

On the other hand, a stakeholder-centric approach recognizes that a company’s long-term success is dependent on the well-being and satisfaction of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment. This shift involves considering the impact of business decisions on all stakeholders and striving to create value for all. Companies adopting a stakeholder-centric approach often focus on long-term sustainability, ethical business practices and corporate social responsibility.

Many companies are now adopting stakeholder-centric approaches to business, recognizing the importance of considering the interests of all stakeholders. This shift is evident in corporate strategies, governance practices and communication efforts aimed at demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and long-term value creation for all stakeholders.

The shift from a shareholder-centric to a stakeholder-centric approach involves a transition from prioritizing short-term profits and shareholder value to considering the broader impact of business decisions on all stakeholders and prioritizing long-term sustainability and ethical practices.

Opportunities for Investor Relations Professionals

One of the best ways for IR professionals to leverage the evolving environment is to embrace the common goals they share with the marketing function. While each has a distinct audience and end product, they share a vested interest in strengthening corporate brand, engaging with their audience and building trust. Once these commonalities are recognized, purposefully strengthen your partnership with key marketing leaders and learn from each other. 

Here are some of the best ways we’ve seen IR and marketing teams work together:  

Collaborate on a Consistent Message 

Build a strategic communications plan that clearly communicates your company’s purpose, values, business model and long-term goals (your “unique value proposition”). Create authentic communications that address all stakeholders. Use this communication consistently in your presentations to ground your audience in who you are and who you are not. From there, coordinate on key messaging about corporate events (for example, product launches) and news. Always tie your message back to your unique value proposition. Work with your marketing team to create Q&A that can be leveraged by the management team, human resources, sales, marketing and investor relations to create a consistent message.

Reflect the Caliber of Your Corporate Brand

Align investor communications with your brand’s voice and visual identity, bringing the “sizzle” that will make your message more memorable. Look at what else the company can do to fully leverage the brand’s personality and showcase a strategic message from its CEO. This could also be used to reinforce corporate vision with employees and other stakeholders. 

Coordinate Outreach and Create Content That Can be Repurposed

Establish a predictable cadence for communications across your stakeholders.  For investors, that likely includes less formal touch points in addition to quarterly earnings, quarterly non-deal roadshows and periodic Investor Days.

Today, online content is largely consumed via video. As you reflect on your corporate brand and messaging, consider creating video content that delivers your evergreen messages on your company’s unique value proposition, strategic priorities and results delivered to each of your stakeholders. This helps deliver both brand and message consistently across audiences. When practical, coordinate Investor Days with trade shows, customer events, board meetings, leadership meetings, town halls and marketing activities to make efficient use of resources (both executive time and production costs) and to foster consistent messaging.

Cultivate Interest and Engagement

A large part of a marketer’s job is to define the unique value proposition that will help a company stand out. IR leaders benefit from working proactively to understand their ideal investor and tailor messaging that will stand out among the hundreds of companies those investors may also be considering. Take the time to know your target audience – including their investment strategy, influencers, pain points and preferences. This knowledge helps you understand what may be interesting or important to investors and it provides you with opportunities to build relationships with your investors.

Leverage Channels Strategically

Most investors visit corporate websites to initially learn about a company. By posting unique, informative and engaging content to your corporate site – for example, videos of your management team highlighting key aspects of your company’s strategic initiatives – you accelerate investors’ ability to complete their initial research on your company. When it’s time to meet with you and the management team, they already have the basics down and can spend their time on more nuanced or targeted questions.

Measure Results

Finally, identify how you will measure success. Work to identify quantifiable performance metrics that align with your company’s goals and can be tracked over time to determine the ROI for your organization overall as well as for investor relations. For example, utilize website analytics to understand what content resonates most with your target audience and optimize accordingly, track investor feedback and questions asked to identify whether messaging is getting through and conduct shareholder analysis to determine how your messaging is resonating with quality investors. In addition, the unquantifiable metrics, such as sentiment readings, overall reputation and strong relationships, also matter and should be monitored. By knowing which metrics matter most, you can continuously improve and more easily point to successes. 

Final Thoughts: Modern Marketing Presents New Opportunities for IR Teams To Engage Audiences

The collaboration between investor relations and marketing teams presents a powerful opportunity to enhance an organization’s brand, nurturing trust and interaction with stakeholders. Despite the typical separation of these roles within many organizations, our experience underscores the significant value created when IR professionals closely align with their marketing counterparts. Such synergy not only amplifies the company’s brand but also fortifies its capacity to cultivate meaningful connections with quality investors.

Adopting a marketing mindset is just one pillar of how we approach strategic investor relations with our clients. Learn more about our philosophy and how we work with you.

Idalia Rodriguez

Idalia Rodriguez

Partner and Senior Advisor

Makela Taphorn

Makela Taphorn

Senior Advisor