A Marketing and Promotional Strategies Guidebook for Junior Mining and Other Public Companies | D. Stewart Armstrong

by D. Stewart Armstrong originally posted in December 2006


 First off, allow me to state that this”Guidebook” is not for everyone. It is a reference work, extremely lengthy, comprehensive, somewhat technical, and task specific.  It is oriented towards CEO’s and Senior Management of Junior Mining and other Public Companies. However, I sincerely hope individual investors may discover the benefits in it that were intended for them. I had considered offering it in two parts since it is about 14 pages in length, but for organizational reasons, decided against it. Consider “printing it out”, and referring to it from time to time as the need arises. Regardless of who is reading it, or how, or when, I welcome you all.


Recently I was asked to create an Investor Relations—Public Relations (IR/PR) campaign along with a corresponding budget for a high quality, well positioned junior mining company. This company has experienced management, excellent projects and most of the other criteria I find so important in such an enterprise.

I accepted the assignment not realizing it would take close to three days to complete. This was due in large part because I spoke with so many other professionals about the project, most of whose services I was planning on utilizing.  I was surprised at the length of time it took to complete because even though I have experience advising junior mining companies as would pertain to their marketing campaigns, I was never afforded the opportunity to create an integrated marketing program of this scope and caliber. A rather substantial budget of approximately $250,000 US was proposed that spanned a time frame of one year. After the dust settled, I was struck by the size, extent, and detail of implementing such a large integrated campaign.

Of course, all the professionals with whom I spoke about the project had their own particular ideas as to what makes an IR/PR program work successfully. I therefore turned the initial exercise into a learning experience and subsequent ideas for this piece emerged. I welcome additional input with the idea of creating a supporting addendum at some point in the future.

Finally, we need to create a simple definition of terms. Marketing, promotion, advertising, IR (or Investor Relations) and PR (or Public Relations) are all terms that are applicable to the topic at hand but with their own particular idiosyncratic definitions, especially within the context of the overall promotional program.

We are dealing primarily with an Integrated Marketing Campaign in this article. However, for the sake of clarity, consider that advertising, promotion, IR, and PR and all of the corresponding components are part and parcel of advancing the marketing/promotional campaign. Marketing and Promotion go hand in hand and advertising is the engine that moves the entire exercise forward.

I’m sharing this experience for three reasons:

  1. The first is so Junior Mining CEO’s and their management teams have a vision of what constitutes an integrated marketing program. Please consider that many of these CEO’s are geologists and scientists by training and not well versed in the art of promotion. If a marketing program of the depth to which I am proposing is not possible because of budgetary constraints, then perhaps other ideas will emerge as viable alternatives in order to maximize the promotional dollars available.

  1. The second reason is so that individual investors will have some sensing of what it takes to accomplish a task as complex as elevating a company profile in the public forum. Additionally, the investor will be able to make certain distinctions between IR/PR programs and encourage the companies with which they are involved as to the benefits and viability of such programs. As investors in these companies, we want to be company advocates. Increased visibility for most public companies offers an additional capacity to possibly reach higher share prices in the future.

  1. Finally, in today’s globally diverse business environment, marketing, “branding”, and promotion are absolutely vital ingredients for the success of just about any company or business. This is especially applicable to junior exploration and mid-tier mining companies. In computer oriented societies where information is a click and a website away, coherent marketing and promotion can literally mean the difference between short term success and failure.

Marketing and promotion at their best are educational exercises based in truth and integrity that lead to a win-win situation for the company and the investor. Executed properly, the process, along with funding, can literally determine the agenda of these companies at any point along their developmental continuum

The same concepts executed in a shoddy fashion can lead to detrimental scenarios wherein the long term survivability of the company and their enterprises are placed into question because the entire exercise culminates in a “stock play”. Such endeavors are soon discovered by the public but not before some damages have usually been done. Quality companies want no part in such shenanigans because they well understand that a reputation once tarnished is extraordinarily difficult to burnish again.

Some of the older CEO’s in this sector have been stung in the past by what I later refer to as failed policies. Since, promotion can be as different as the promoters themselves, I believe that it is imperative for these management teams to align themselves with sharp, talented, and honorable people. Chances are the results will be considerably better than those suffered in the past.

However, that would also mandate a complete understanding of the marketing process and then choosing professionals with integrity along with the proper marketing vehicles that can be executed in the most effective timeline as applicable to your company’s particular projects.

Many from the “old school” believe that promotion is a dirty word due to past experiences and so they shy away from it. The “newer school” sometimes relies on promotion too much. The proper balance is always somewhere in the middle.

Incidentally, we’ve all suffered our share of indignities but the trick is to learn and move on. Don’t allow one person, group, or the negative experience you’ve had with them, set up roadblocks to your future success. Don’t allow the negative experiences define who you are when there are so many positive ones to be created..

Two Categories of Promotional Programs

As a quick aside, a good friend indicated that he felt promotional programs often fall into two categories. The first type is the long term quality program that viable companies utilize in order to bring their projects to fruition, serving well the interests of the company and their shareholders. The second one would be the short term, doomed to failure, “pump and dump” scenario.

If you are involved in the second kind, sooner or later they will find a way to come back and haunt you. Perhaps an individual might make a few dollars participating from “the inside track”, but long term it always catches up with you because those people on the short end of the stick not realizing that it is indeed a pump and dump affair will suffer. I believe in karma and that there is no substitute for integrity.

The internet has made it possible for companies and investors to relate and communicate with one another on a sophisticated basis as never before. It behooves investors and companies alike to mark their territory with the intelligence, education, and the respect they would like reciprocated.  We all need to learn the difference between what is real and what isn’t. Besides, a great deal more money can be made promoting real projects than ethereal ones.

What is an integrated Marketing Program?

What are some of the components?

 An integrated marketing program is one that combines various strategies of advertising and promotion with the idea of bringing all those forces to bear upon a particular company in order to “tell a complete and compelling story”, elevate its profile, and ultimately to increase its share price.

Web Sites: First and Foremost—Job One!

The first step is the creation of a well-crafted, informative, dynamic, and up to date company website. I think one of the best I’ve seen in the resource sector in 2006 is Golden Phoenix’s site (www.golden-phoenix.com). It’s informative, timely, personal, visual, and it reaches out from your screen and draws you in. Simply put, it works.

From your personal company web site, all other information can flow in and out. Think of it as the hub of the old wagon wheel and the spokes are the avenues for the dissemination of all information pertaining to your company and it’s Integrated Marketing Program. Perhaps the old wheel is missing a few spokes—never to mind; they can always be repaired or completed at some point in the future.

Additional Components of the Program

The program itself is a continual dynamic process that can include everything from the placement of advertisements on various internet sites (otherwise known as on-line ads or banner ads), advertisements in newspapers and magazines (known as off-line ads), postal or direct mailings, email “blasts”, write-ups by analysts, and of course television or visual presentations. Radio and print interviews can also be utilized.

The Company CD

I’m now encouraging clients to create visually compelling “Company CD’s”. Contained on these CDs is a combination of power point presentations and video clips amalgamated into an informative, personal, and entertaining,”electronic brochure”.  Most everyone has a CD player these days so the medium is universal. Geocom Resources (GOCM), one of the companies I am currently representing, has created a very simple but effective Company CD and I’d be happy to send you a copy aqs a model. The age of technology is upon us and there are now electronic promotional tools available to all of us for the cost of mailing a print brochure. However, CDs offer the possibility of mailing out volumes of information, charts, and graphs at a fraction of the cost.

Some would argue that the CD is old technology and the new way or the new technology is the company message imbedded within an Email message. I prefer the CD because it offers the luxury of actually finding the disk (in the mountains of other material on one’s desk!) as opposed to digging through reams of Email messages for a particular company. The CD, just as the company report, should have a distinctive cover and a company logo so it stands out.

The “Old” Telephone Technology

 Then, of course, we have the telephone calls initiated by investor relation (IR) professionals to stock brokers, institutions, and individuals. Calls made to investors which are unsolicited are referred to as cold calls and in my opinion, a bad idea. Contacts made to investors who offer their telephone numbers or usually their email addresses and wish to be contacted could be considered a “viable contact”. Companies need an IR person to handle the incoming calls as well. It is a two way street.

The essence of a talented IR person, besides the ability to talk with investors about the story or the company, is the network of viable contacts, both institutional and personal, that they’ve created or literally constructed over time. These are contacts who have enough faith in their judgment to listen to a new story or updates on an older one. An IR person who burns their bridges “pushing” marginal projects is literally jeopardizing their livelihood. Everyone can make legitimate mistakes in the choices they make and everyone in this business has made their share. But the “wins” should far outdistance the “losses” if their opinions are to remain respected.

Personal Contacts

The calendar of “face to face” presentations made by a company representative to various professional organizations such as brokerage firms and institutional investors are important. Many CEO’s do not like participating in them while others are born to the task. But no one knows a company better than its CEO, especially as would apply to some of the technical progress being made on their projects. Frequently these organizations respond better to the “top dog”. However, carefully pick and choose the venues for the CEO because nothing could be worse than having a seasoned knowledgeable professional offering a company presentation to a group of yawning disinterested brokers who would rather be on the phone making some dough.

Trade Shows

Part and parcel of the face to face representations made by a company are the Trade Shows which many companies believe they should attend. Do the benefits support the expense? Are they worth the money it costs to purchase the booth, rent the trade show space, and pay for travel, living expenses and a “per diem” for the company representatives?  Will special promotional materials be created for the show which incurs additional expenses? What about the valuable time expended on the shows that could be utilized for other purposes.

Again, do the benefits warrant the expenses? These are indeed complex questions and there are no easy answers. However, in a truly integrated marketing campaign, where money is no object I could see it on the calendar. Since it can easily cost in excess of $25,000 US to send a team of two company representatives to a show, I can just as easily see it off the calendar.

Each company situation is unique. It is important to talk with your “marketing quarterback” about the pluses and minuses of such events within the context of your overall marketing budget. I will tell you this. Trade Shows are what you make of them and I firmly believe if you are going to participate in them, they should be chosen carefully. All trade shows are not created equally!

You might also consider combining business and pleasure. Your employees will thank you for it and it may even be an opportunity for the team to bond. That would be money well spent. Any effort to create team spirit is money well spent.

 I know one CEO in particular who is very generous with his staff and independent contractors on all levels. Those people working with that company are loyal, grateful, and will go to the mat for that guy. Don’t underestimate the benefit of “spreading the rewards around”. It comes back Ten Fold—yes, 10 fold. Think about this for just a second as would be applicable to all aspects of life. When someone treats you generously, how do you personally feel and then respond? Do you slack off or do you work harder? Are you loyal or do disloyal. Most people respond in kind. Case closed.

And speaking of trade shows, I just returned from the ‘06 San Francisco Gold Show where I was a delegate—in other words, I was an attendee. I would venture a guess that approximately 75% of the booths did not even welcome you to their booth or extend a warm greeting when “eye contact” was made. I found myself initiating most of the conversations. If you go through all that trouble to attend the show, might I suggest that the host or hostess at the booth at least extend a welcome to visitors; especially when there are only two or three people at the booth. These shows are places where your target audience can be engaged. I would take every possible advantage of it.


The “mail outs” (or mailings) or Email blasts can also be part of a lead generation program otherwise known as “lead-gen” programs. These kinds of lead generation programs are tricky because a good deal of money can be spent and yet it can be very difficult to verify or quantify the results. This is where the Company CD or “electronic brochure” can play an important part in this segment of the marketing program, especially if the prospective investor contacts the company or an intermediary in order to receive one.

 The Heart and Soul of Your Marketing Program

The company database is the heart and soul of your promotional campaign. Meticulously catalog every name that comes into your office and then protect it judiciously. In other words, don’t trade or sell your lists as investors simply hate that. They’ve trusted you with their name and address and you simply have to honor that trust.

Offer different modes whereby individual investors can sign up for news from the company. Have a form on the company web site where investors and interested parties can request press releases and other company information.

If you advertise on many of the top resource web sites such as Kitco, Goldseek, and Stockhouse, there are places where investors can sign up for additional information from you.  If you are attending trade shows as an exhibitor offer enhancements to motivate people to sign up for news. Even if acquired on a one by one basis, legitimate investors who are interested in your company for all the proper reasons are a gold mine.

There are many more strategies that can be employed in an integrated marketing program and people can become quite creative. Just look at Madison Avenue and how they convince us to want all the things we don’t need!  The key to these programs as in everything else in life is integrity and balance.

 The Business Professional

“The Market Liquidity Consultant”

There is one additional element I will introduce into the integrated marketing equation and that is the professional who specializes in knowing the “market makers” and the “heavy hitters” in your particular industry. They can bring focus and buying power to your particular company because they know the “right people”. They will then put those people together with “the right story” in a juxtaposition that will move the entire company forward in methodical and ethical fashion. There is no specific name for this person or position so after talking with a few of these professionals, I’ll refer to them as the “The Business Professional” (BP) or “A Market Liquidity Consultant”. In many ways these professionals are a combination of an IR position, a broker, a promotional consultant, and an adjunct to your entire marketing team. Simply put, they can bring liquidity to your company after they’ve determined your company possesses the ingredients for success. Of course, the first things they review are management, the track record, and the projects.

This is a person who can assist a foreign company in acquiring a US OTC listing (for a reasonable cost) and then assist the company with many additional facets of that US listing; especially as would pertain to attracting market makers, brokers, institutional investors, and heavy hitters to the deal. Of course, the deal has to be worthy of the energy expended. The quality BP is not interested in “moose pasture”.

I’ve often said that with so many quality projects around, why wound anyone want to expend their energy or be involved in anything less than the best. I’ve often found it amazing what people will do for money and it becomes imperative that we never allow our guard to be down when the sweet smell of green wafts on the gentle breeze of Wall Street. Or would that be a hurricane vis a vis Enron. Money can be so alluring especially after a 20 year bear market in commodities that we need to view it for exactly what it is—a tool, and not an end in and of itself.

I want to be very clear in one specific regard. This BP is in no way shape or form related to a “pump and dump” scenario or any illegitimate exercise. If you run into one that is marginal they are not a BP, but rather a PP. That would stand for a Pig in a Poke.

The BP is an individual quite experienced in the markets, who can advise the “quarterback” of your marketing program as to which “market makers” are involved in your particular company. Through his network of contacts, he can advise other market makers to make a market in your stock and through this exercise can bring more attention to your company.

Of course, the greater the number of market makers involved, the tighter the spread in your bid and ask parameters. Your market will become more competitive, more flexible, and there will be more liquidity. Your investors will feel more comfortable knowing that they can enter and exit a position without setting off bells or dramatically affecting the price on five or ten trades.

For instance, if you’ve just acquired an OTCBB listing and you need additional market makers to create a larger image for your company, this is the guy for whom you’ll be searching. However, even though the costs may not be exorbitantly high for his services, the question is will he believe that you will deliver on your project. Will you do what you say you’ll do? The ball is in his court so the company clearly needs him more than he needs the company. The good ones come by referral only so don’t expect to find them listed in the Yellow Pages. Do you need an OTCBB Listing and corresponding attention after the listing? Guess who to call?

It’s a Matter of Trust

The BP can help you accomplish these kinds of goals and work with select brokers and institutional investors to build substantial positions in your company. They can bring a tremendous amount of liquidity into your company from many different levels. I’m being repetitive because this is extraordinarily important information.

The buying power stems from all the contacts that trust him: both from within the industry, and many times from without. They know market makers, brokers, institutional investors, individual investors, and other professionals who do what they do—best.

The smart ones, the ethical ones, will be looking for companies that have viable projects.  They want your story and your projects to be solid as a rock (no pun intended) because they realize as no other that when their job is complete, the company should have sufficient “legs” to stand on its own.

I repeat, they want the ability to exit their positions from a company, without leaving a “footprint”. If that is the case, the BP will have accomplished their job extraordinarily well. However, for that to occur, the fundamentals of the company have to progress in tandem with its share price. Under ideal circumstances, the BP will assist in attracting attention to a company as the projects are being developed at ever more financially viable levels. When they exit, the company will have developed their projects to a point that allows any sales of the shares to be absorbed by the market without a depression in the share price. In other words, the company will have gained sufficient strength (both fundamentally and from a market standpoint) to offset any sellers exiting their position.

This may sound all very cloak and dagger and James Bondish and perhaps to some degree it is. However, it is the antithesis of a “pump and dumper”. The difference is this. A pump and dumper is pumping up a stock for the sake of a stock play—that’s all it is. It is promotion for the sake of promotion.  It could be an arbitrage situation or promotion for the sake of making money with no fundamental story behind the deal. It is the burning match theory at its worst and the last person holding the match will have their fingers burned. This is the antithesis as to the kind of project a BP will choose.

BPs do not want anything to do with a company directly—if they see management coming, they will run—not walk, the other way. They want no conflict of interest and ethics demand that they basically work for themselves as investors. They want no possibility of being accused of acting on insider information. They can work with intermediaries or the marketing quarterback of your program but not the principals themselves.

It is their business to fully comprehend which market makers are working with which companies. This is all quite transparent if you have a NASDAQ Level III Trading Platform. Oh yes, there is that hefty little $3500 per month rental fee for the program! There is also the issue of training and years of experience to determine what is real and what isn’t. These are a few of the reasons that make a Market Liquidity Consultant so valuable.

Because of Sarbanes Oxley Laws (dealing with corporate governance and the SEC), they must be meticulous in how they operate. The most vital element of their business is trust.It is all perfectly legitimate but sometimes even experienced management will resent the idea that certain people do not want to talk directly with them; especially if they are employing them as consultants!  However, it really is for the good of the company and all participants involved in this end of the business.

The Total Cost can be Quite Substantial

Well, you can imagine, hiring all of these people and services is not inexpensive! In fact, they can be quite costly. Most companies try the piecemeal approach while others try the “throw enough mud against the wall and see what sticks”. There is a happy medium and while this piece is about the integrated marketing approach, there are certainly other marketing strategies than can be employed at various stages during the growth of a company.

Which Path Do You Take?

At the very worst, a company does nothing, expecting that the world will beat a path to their door based upon excellent or great drill results.

At best, they engage in the complete (expensive) integrated marketing approach complete with a designated “quarterback” who initiates the program and then directs all of these people and coordinates the efforts of the best professionals he or she can hire. A good quarterback is worth their weight in platinum because if you are going to spend the money for all of these services, and you are not an expert in the field yourself, locate a talented person to run your program who doesknow and understand your particular business sector, marketing, mailings, CD’s, web sites, graphic design, print media, computer programs, and the creative people in his or her circle. This will be a benefit for both of you.

Usually, you will find companies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and this can be the trickiest of all places to be. I call it the ”ST” or Stab Technology where companies take a stab at this and then take a stab at that and wonder why the share price is not going up.

I will tell you a secret. Since good marketing is cumulative, and if you keep a qualitative program moving forward, even on a smaller scale of $5000 a month or so, it will bear positive results over time. You can always “kick it up a notch” when the funds are available but the key is to begin some thing at some point in time. Inertia is a difficult “ball” to move.

Why Don’t All Companies Employ the Integrated Approach?

 As I previously mentioned, these integrated programs are expensive and many companies believe them to be too expensive.

I spoke with Loa Fridfinnson, founder and President of Activ8 Corporate Relations, a Public Relations Firm (www.activ8inc.com) based out of Vancouver, Canada.  Ms. Fridfinnson had some excellent insights to share regarding the integrated marketing approach. It is her view that this is the only way that a company can truly make inroads into the psyche of the investing public and bring an elevated awareness from the investment community to that company. She also told me “straight up” that her days of the (dis) integrated marketing approach were behind her.

Ms Fridfinnson went on to elucidate the concept that between 8-10 “impressions” were required before the average investor would have a sufficient comfort level to purchase the stock of a particular company.

The identical concepts holds true on a retail marketing level. As a case in point, why do you think that Procter and Gamble or any of the beer commercials are repeated endlessly on radio and TV? They are called “soap operas” because this was the target market for these products and senior management decided to create shows to match the product! Think about that for a moment.

However, Loa really wanted me to stress that there should be less emphasis on advertising per se, and more focus on the concept that advertising is but a portion of what makes an integrated marketing/communications campaign successful. So where as advertising has the connotation of something for which payment is required, a quid pro quo, marketing and promotion should have the focus on “all things communications related” especially as pertains to a particular company, product, or service”.

 The most important elements of the integrated marketing approach become:

  1. Planning
  2. Strategy
  3. Execution
  4. Continuity

….of a message delivered through various avenues, mediums and vehicles to a “targeted audience”. This process will eventually develop loyal relationships which in turn will be perpetuated and or reinforced via word of mouth.

This entire dynamic is achieved by targeting and qualifying a particular audience and then customizing a specific message for this audience for which all shareholders or parties of interest in the business or model can relate to as it is being promulgated on a continuous basis. Subsequently, the entire process will be strengthened by the continual execution of the planning and strategy.

Whether this strategy is applicable to soap suds, beer suds, clothing duds, or mining studs is irrelevant as long as it addresses a particular integrated marketing plan en toto for that particular business, service, or even charitable model. The point to be made is that intelligent marketing requires long term planning, encased in a coherent strategy, executed in a timely fashion to a targeted audience with a message that is consistent and easily assimilated by the audience being addressed.

 It is not so much about the money (immediate financial costs) as it is about the methodology employed and about how the type of return on the total marketing package is effectively calculated.

Advertising is but one element in the entire marketing mix. And so as we discuss all the moving parts of the promotional campaign or the integrated marketing campaign if you will, realize that planningstrategy, and ultimately the execution of the plan should all fit together like hand in glove. Once again, remember that your company, regardless of the sector, the timing, or the business should have an inimitable identity defined irrevocably by a unique selling proposition. This entire process will assist your company to stand apart from the maddening crowd.

As a case in point, at the San Francisco Gold Show I just attended, most of the booths looked alike as did the people and the sales brochures. What made one company stand apart from another?

Say what you will, but when you mention Jim Dines to any of the attendees at these shows, one unique fact always stands out. You know what that is? He is known for having lovely young ladies flocking around his booth attracting crowds while distributing subscription forms to the Dines Letter. That is his unique selling proposition at the shows and it works because he always seems to have a group of people (higher ratio of men to women?) at his booth. This doesn’t detract from the quality of his work; it only means that he can attract the crowd which gets them to “acknowledge his business model”. We will not deal with the sexist implications of this strategy at this juncture but save that one for a PC (politically Correct) workshop later on!

In a conclusion to this section, one would think both investors and the junior mining and or exploration companies would understand the nature and the importance of such an integrated marketing/IR/PR program but I don’t believe that to be the case. Even small producers with positive cash flow feel compelled to play it very close to the vest believing that the public will “discover” them and therefore promotion isn’t necessary. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.

Why do Companies Completely Neglect All Advertising and Promotion?  

 Most junior mining companies find it difficult to set aside substantial sums of money for marketing and or promotion. They would rather put that money into exploration or “into the ground” as they say. There are arguments that certainly substantiate this approach but at the end of the day, a certain number of investors have to know about your company if your want your stock to be liquid. Liquidity and promotion go hand and hand as described in a section below.

Here are a few reasons why companies neglect all marketing and promotion. At the center of all these reasons is a certain mind set from those running the companies that there are more important places to put the money; usually ”in the ground”.

  1. Limited Funding: promotion is last on the list of things to do
  2. Waste of Time: CEO, Management and the Board of Directors believe it a waste of time; most likely they’ve been “burnt”, disappointed, or let down in the past. Many don’t understand the process and not having someone to trust, they ignore it.
  3. Drill it and they will come” mentality; akin to “Build it and they will come”
  4. Past Marketing Programs failed to achieve objectives and goals:
  5. This can be a function of sheer ineptness or unscrupulous people
  6. This can be a function of a fragmented approach or the incorrect approach for the project.
  7. It could have been a non-quantifiable program that could have achieved better results over time if given the opportunity.
  8. Little or no continuity in the promotional program: the hit and run approach or “guerilla marketing”. Continuity is one of the most important elements of the process. (Please refer to my article on the 8 C’s in the archives or send me a request and I’ll be happy to send it to you.)
  9. Promoters did not have company support; company wants “lots for little”
  10. A company wanting to promote on “historical numbers; referring to what past operators have accomplished 2-20 years ago on the project.
  11. Company failed to do their part vis a vis press releases and exploration programs leaving marketing personnel swinging in the breeze.
  12. Timing was bad: there is a certain flow to these projects and if you advertise too early or too late, results can be flat at best.
  13. Lack of Expertise over time:  Perhaps the most frequent reason companies do no promotion is a combination of “Where/How Do I Begin?” along with “Limited Funding” combined with the sheer energy and knowledge it requires to implement a solid marketing plan over time—the time frame being at least six months minimum and preferably one year in duration. It takes effort and it takes funding: two items in short supply.
  14. Non-Quantifiable: Unfortunately, advertising is cumulative and often times, especially in this sector, it virtually impossible to determine what is working and what isn’t. If all we can use is the share price to determine success, then we are shortchanging our efforts. Lead Generation programs will give you a list of names but how many from that group will purchase the shares? Scientists and Geologists want empirical results for promotional dollars spent and that can be difficult, especially on a fragmented promotional program.

Liquidity and Promotion: The Dynamic Duo

To make matters more complex, the junior mining sector as an entity can be very illiquid—easy to purchase stock and difficult to sell.  If your company is “trading by appointment”, it only makes it more difficult for your shareholders to make a commitment to your particular company.

One of the benefits of marketing is that it helps to create liquidity and that can mean the difference between success and failure; especially in the short term! Most institutions and individual investors will simply not purchase shares in a company they perceive as being illiquid. However, this holds doubly true for institutional investors. As we’ve mentioned several times previously, they want the ability to enter and exit a company without leaving a “footprint”.   

Having “traders” becoming involved in your company is not a negative occurrence because that trading creates liquidity.

Illiquidity exacerbated by a lack of news from a company can mean distressing results for investors. Simply put, no news—no promotion, and the share price is not going to do well.

Remember, investors have a plethora of projects from which to choose and you must stand out from the crowd in order to gain recognition in the community. Every company needs a USP—a unique selling proposition. Find the one for your company and then make certain word gets out. I’ll have more on this concept in a later article because it is one of the central issues of all marketing programs.

Promotion Ultimately Affects Future Financings

Most companies are concerned about their share price for all the obvious reasons. However, it is especially important for juniors because of no other reason than as a gauge and a vehicle for future financings. If you have a terrific project with perhaps 40M shares outstanding and that is in an advanced development stage but is selling for $.25, it is going to be difficult to raise money at reasonable costs for future endeavors. Solid promotion could put the stock at $.50 or a $1.00 and that could mean much less dilution going forward.

Think of it like this. How much would you be willing to spend if a marketing program could increase your market cap by 10 or 20 million dollars? What would that be worth to the company?

Many CEO’s of these resource companies spend a great deal of time and effort raising funds. If one has to seriously dilute a company to raise a million dollars at $.25 a share, well it ain’t no fun. It certainly is not beneficial to existing shareholders and it doesn’t make the CEO look that terrific either. Additionally, a million dollars is not what it used to be. There is this little thing called inflation, regardless of what the government is telling us. For instance, an ounce of gold in 1980 dollars is valued at over $2000 dollars today (2006).

So, marketing and promotion become important in order to tell the story in order toelevate the stock price in order to become liquid in order to facilitate future financings in order to increase the market cap so that the cycle—the process, repeats itself only at higher prices.   

The “Build it and they Will Come” mindset is a fine model if one is certain that funds can be acquired on a regular basis without worry. Some companies are fortunate to have the ability to do private placements or non-brokered financings. Unfortunately, most companies do not have that luxury. But even so, at the end of the day, those benefactors are going to want to see the share price higher. They want to see some bang for their buck; don’t we all?

There is a general rule of thumb that 10% of your Exploration Budget should be set aside for marketing and promotion. If you’re doing a $500,000 exploration program, consider putting aside $50,000 for promotion. At the very least, consider 5% or $25,000.

 Where is the Best Place to Implement a Partial or Fragmented Marketing Program?

 I would suggest that if sufficient funds are not available to elevate the company profile with an integrated marketing program and something just has to be done, build your web site first. After that, consider talking to and building a long term relationship with a marketing company or even a special consultant. Some of them will be willing to begin working with you on a minimal basis if they have an incentive to participate with you via a larger advertising program in the future. The Internet is now the “go to” place for information and certain web sites such as www.kitco.com. Peter Spina’s www.goldseek.comwww.stockhouse.comwww.jsmineset.comand Bill Murphy’swww.lemetropolecafe.comare on the radar screen of many investors in the resource sector. These are all excellent sites and I’d advise you to review all of them on a regular basis.

However, I have to say in all honesty that simply running banner ads on web sites is not the end all be all. If you would ask the average investor where they acquire most of their resource investment ideas, 8 out of 10 will tell you that they heard it from a consultant or a firm who is recommending the company. That “someone” could be a writer, an analyst, a company, a website, a professional and a person or entity who they respect and trust. Simply throwing your money at expensive banner ads in a sporadic pattern is not the best course of action or the way to maximize a company’s promotional dollars.

Having banner ads on web sites wherein you are acquiring some type of additional coverage adds a far greater benefit to your promotional program. Investors also realize that if they click on your ad they will go to your web site so by all means make certain that it is an attractive, informative, well placed site. Yes, it is possible to improve your company’s ranking on the web.

Here is another secret of the trade and one that most investors really like when the understand it. You’ve stayed with me this far, so this one is “on the house”. When you advertise on a web site—any Internet web site, and someone clicks on your ad, make certain that click goes to a “landing page” or “landing letter” where in you welcome that person, inform them of the most important elements and successes of your company andlink certain key phrases in that Landing Letter to their corresponding locations on your web site by creating links. You do that by underlining the key phrase which when clicked upon takes the reader to another location on your site. Make certain there is a place on the letter or the site which allows the reader to easily return to the original letter or the site. Once you have them, you certainly don’t want to lose them because of some simple little technical detail.

The landing page should be sincere, honest, and personable. The best web sites and the best letters are the ones that reach out in a “down home” way to the person on the other end of the screen. Don’t take yourselves too seriously—be real and be genuine and it will manifest itself to the reader. If one is too serious, too stuffy, and to intense, or exhibiting too much hyperbole, such as “we have just found the greatest mine in the Southern Hemisphere and if you don’t act right now you’re pants are going to fall down!” Well, you get the idea.

A few Last, but Obvious Points

The one thing you must realize about this exploration industry their corresponding projects is that they suck up money like a powerful supercharged commercial vacuum sucks up down feathers. There is always the issue of where and how the next dollar will be raised and how many shares need to be sold or placed in order to create those dollars. CEO’s of these companies probably spend 50% of their time contemplating and exercising their financing campaigns and the other 50% trying to figure out how to spend the money wisely. I think there is another 50% in there for running the company but lets call this the new math and make those determinations at a later date!

Marketing and Promotion expenses can usually be found at the bottom of the expenditure list, after salaries, staff expenses, projects, drilling, assays, reports, press releases, and miscellaneous expenses. Truth be told, marketing should be more towards the top of the list than the bottom.

Since marketing efforts are so difficult to quantify, even when dollars become available, CEO’s are reluctant to take the plunge because they don’t know who to trust.

Can anyone blame companies for not taking the plunge? Often times these kinds of expenditures have to be passed before the Board and depending upon their mindset, it can be difficult to sell the idea to them.  Again, we must remember that many CEO’s of these Junior Mining Companies are not advertising executives, they are mining executives, geologists, and scientists and as such promotion and marketing is not their primary area of expertise.

 Lest we forget or overlook the nature of the beast (and the obvious), juniors are not selling anything until they’ve discovered something to sell. There is no “cash flow” and yet money has to be raised to propel the project forward. There are many ways to accomplish this yet invariably it comes down to either a loan for the company, or by raising funds by selling shares in the company. More and more junior companies are trying to get into the mining business as operators, but that opens up an entirely different can of worms. Good concept but difficult to implement.

In all cases, a higher share price is a good thing because more money can be raised with less dilution. Assuming that all other elements are equal such as a great portfolio of company projects, experienced management, the ability to fund, and so on, a higher share price is contingent upon the sector doing well, a prosperous economy and investors recognizing the company name. That entails the marketing of the company.


 Junior Mining Companies need to be recognized in the investment community. The best way to accomplish this is through an integrated marketing program directed by a professional who has the contacts and the experience to do a proper professional job for you. Don’t expect miracles overnight because it is a somewhat timely and costly endeavor if done properly. Patience, knowledge, and timing are the keys to a successful program.

Marketing, Promotion, and Advertising, especially in this resource sector, ultimately go to the bottom line because of the necessity of implementing financings over time in order to raise capital. The higher the share price of the company, the less the dilution when these financings become necessary. Coherent marketing and promotion become incredibly important because:

  1. Intelligent, integrated marketing and promotion leads to higher share prices
  2. Higher share prices leads to less dilution during financings
  3. Less dilution leads to fewer shares outstanding while raising increased capital
  4. Increased capital for less shares means the cycle can be repeated at higher prices
  5. Higher prices leads to satisfied shareholders
  6. Satisfied shareholders, management, and directors leads to additional marketing programs and so the cycle is repeated.

Since all marketing is cumulative, it is money well spent if you stick with it. If you are sporadic in your approach, the results will be correspondingly sporadic.

Realizing that many CEO’s in the resource sector are scientists by training, there is going to be a certain resistance if results from advertising dollars are not quantifiable or empirically verifiable as the case may be. However, that is the nature of the beast and it is better to realize this up front and build your marketing program centering upon this fact.

Everyone wants to quantify their marketing dollars, and the only tool most people have to quantify the effort is via the share price. However, this is the least effective gauge to use in the short term. Consider an expanding database, in conjunction with an increasing share price over time as a more effective gauge. Since these tools are cumulative, it must be understood, that slow and steady is better than a vertical leap along with a correspondingly vertical decline.

Work with talented, motivated people and don’t shy away from compensating them accordingly. However, one doesn’t need to go overboard. There is a happy medium and if you have your web site developed and some means of driving traffic to your site, you’ll be ahead of the game.

An integrated approach to marketing and promotion is the best one to employ in order to maximize your marketing dollars. However, as I’ve previously mentioned in this piece, there are other creative strategies to utilize in order to elevate your company profile. The important thing is to begin somewhere, use the best people available, and to realize that this is money well spent as it will return to reward the success of your company and its investors many times over. Success begets success.

I hope this has been of a benefit to all of you who have taken the time to read this through. If you implement even one or two of the strategies mentioned, your company and personal success will have a huge upside potential that may well surprise even you.

Until next time,

Stewart Armstrong

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