This talk was given by Clate Mask, CEO of Keap at SaaS Connect 2019 in San Francisco, March 26-27, 2019. Get the slides

How can businesses effectively communicate change to their partners?

This is a lesson that Clate Mask, CEO of Keap, shared in his talk at SaaS Connect 2019. In early 2019, his company, Infusionsoft, announced it was changing its name to Keap. It’s within that specific context that Clate was able to reflect on what he’s learned about growing a business, a brand and partnerships.

Why did Infusionsoft decide to rebrand to Keap?

The short answer: growth.

Infusionsoft was serving 30,000 customers at the time the rebrand was initiated. But the company also noticed they were losing customers who wanted a simpler solution. So, they created that simpler solution and called it Keap.

Clate decided on this name by remembering a story where his wife told him to “keep going” when his business was in danger. And that same message is what he wants the company to tell the small businesses that rely on Keap’s software.

Who needs to hear about change?

Communicating change isn’t easy. Keap had to communicate their name change, again and again and again. They had to field questions like “Were you acquired?” and “Why change your name?”

Throughout the process, there were three groups Keap needed to communicate this change to:

  1. Employees
  2. Customers
  3. Partners

Partners, however, became a key component to the success of the rebrand.

How do partners impact rebranding?

While rebranding, Keap learned several key lessons about coordinating with partners:

  • If you want to grow through partners, you must serve your partners. Some businesses assume that growth alone will be enough to get partners selling, but this is not the case. Partners need to have their needs met.
  • Focus on the right partners. Most businesses have an ideal customer profile. An ideal partner profile is just as important.
  • Sell through your partners, not to them. Instead of sticking your partners with inventory they don’t want or need, focus on empowering them to sell to your ideal client.
  • The larger you grow, the more important partners are. Not vice versa. Many of Keap’s partners were wary of this new product, concerned that it would make them less valuable to clients. Keap had to get them onboard because they were paramount to the rebrand’s success.

What can businesses learn from Keap’s rebrand?

There were five lessons that Keap learned throughout the rebrand process:

  1. Take your partners through your product evolution. Help them understand the “why.” Clate found that partners really wanted to understand the difference between Infusionsoft and Keap, and why customers would want one or the other. This isn’t something that they invested in initially. But once they did, they saw a significant spike in sales.
  2. Involve partners in more areas of your business. Keap has begun involving partners in things like onboarding customers and helping customers struggling with the platform. Today, 64 percent of customers are working with a partner, and they hope to expand this number to 80 percent. This keeps executive teams from getting to insular.
  3. Get more value and volume from key partners. When Keap began its rebrand, it had to stop running a conference it had done previously. Instead, they passed the baton to some key partners. This illustrated just how beneficial partners could be to the overall process.
  4. Allow your partners to get something in return. Partners want to know what’s in it for them. It’s important to give them more opportunity as they sell to more customers, and make sure they have the ability to make money in the ecosystem.
  5. Quiet the Doubters. There are a lot of different partner programs out there, and it can be difficult to stand out. The best way to do this is to appeal to emotion.