At the lower end of the market, many business brokers send out invitation cards or letters, often using computer generated “handwritten” fonts. Some physically go to businesses and drop the card under the door. In almost all cases the message is the same: “we have a buyer for your business”. If you read it carefully, some say, “we may have a buyer for your business”. Do they have a buyer? Usually not. Well, almost never. To be fair, many brokers do have a lot of buyers at any given time, so it is possible one of those buyers will be interested. Usually not though. Usually the business is sold, at the lower end, by using business-for-sale websites.
The broker is hoping the business owner will call, and that will open up a conversation about selling the company. Often too, it is purely about having that card arrive at the right time, when the business owner is starting to think about selling.
Many business owners get lots of these mailings and are used to hearing about all the buyers waiting to buy their business. I’ve done business searches for wealthy buyers, and I have a heck of a time convincing business owners I’m for real. That I really do have a buyer that is interesting in your business. I hate that.
M&A is for larger companies, but the marketing is very similar. The letter may be on watermarked letterhead with first class postage, but the message is the same. In fact, I was at our industry conference (M&A Source) and at the exhibition there was a company that does mailings for firms. The letter looks like it is from a nation wide investment firm and it is pretty darn impressive. It indicates, in a fuzzy sort of way, that there are buyers that have inquired about “companies like yours”. Anyone that responds is sent to the original company that paid for the mailing.
Some firms also use telemarketing, but again it using a similar message. Some are starting to use web advertising (we at Woodbridge do). Seminars are used – in a good way and a bad way. Many use seminars to educate, hoping they impress the attendees enough that they elect to use the company. Some however, use seminars to do a hard sell. If you attend a seminar and they press you to put down a deposit, don’t. Leave, do some research, call some of their clients, Google them, then decide.