Nikolaus Sühr, CEO and Co-Founder of KASKO tells us how they design, distribute, and run digital insurance products for any distribution channel.
First of all, how are you and your family doing?
Nikolaus Sühr: My family is doing great, thanks for asking. I was happy to become a father during the pandemic and am enjoying the family life and figuring out how to handle my current and new responsibilities. My wife Maria is also working full-time, and we are both juggling careers and family at the same time. Not being able to travel and being home (and working from home) rather than 100 days on the road certainly has made it easier for me to contribute better to our family life than I could have in a world of f2f meetings and conferences.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded KASKO.
Nikolaus Sühr: Long story short for those who do not know me and KASKO yet. I studied Insurance and Risk Management in Nottingham and London, where I met my friend, co-founder, and CTO Matthew Wardle. After university, I went to work in the insurance and consulting industry (incl. our own family insurance intermediation business) for 7 years, and Matt went into startup and tech consulting. In 2015, we decided to start our own insurtech KASKO, a SAAS platform for insurers and insurance intermediaries to design, distribute and manage digital insurance products.
How does KASKO market its product/services online?
Nikolaus Sühr: At its core, selling software to businesses is about trust and understanding, probably even more so within insurance which is at its core a strong relationship business. So everything that we do is about connecting and understanding our potential customers, building relationships, and navigating multi-month or even year-long sales cycles for and with them.
Pre-Covid, this was primarily about going to events or having one-to-one or face-to-face meetings and lots, lots, lots of phone conversations. Post-Covid, this has now shifted more towards channels online, and we found that social selling via LinkedIn is something that works quite well.
A few other things worked really well for us, are namely
· Starting our own podcast to invite people we wanted to build a relationship with and learn from
· Sourcing and commenting on industry news via LinkedIn and aggregating these insights into a monthly newsletter so we could educate our target audience about what was going on in the market
· Content-driven outreach whereby we would start a conversation with an idea or use-case that we felt would help our clients grow (rather than just selling tech)
So for us, online just means a more precise way to target the conversations you want to have with the people you want to have them with and share insights from what you have learned rather than spending your time traveling across the globe.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?
Nikolaus Sühr: The one thing which was missing from our promotional activities during the pandemic was the type of face-to-face meetings and events where you can meet all major players in the market and exchange with them on a more informal occasion as you would usually do in a networking event, which was now no longer held due to Covid. As already mentioned before in a b2b environment, building and maintaining personal connections is quite essential to the success of whatever business you are doing, so we had to come up with a solution that could help us stay present in the mind of our existing target audience and will help us to develop our network further at the same time. This is how we came up with podcasts as a sales and networking tool.
Also, we developed into a fully remote working company within the last two years. A decision we all stand behind and which offers us all the greatest flexibility, especially If you have responsibilities outside of your work like being a father, wanting to study, or simply not wanting to commute that much.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Nikolaus Sühr: To be honest, my marketing team and I are just using very simple tools. We believe that processes are far more valuable than tools, and so far, probably we haven’t even tapped into 50% of the functionality of the tools that we use today. But some tools we really like for our marketing and sales efforts (for us, it’s a combined function) include
· Email (no idea how to work without it)
· Zoom/Teams for internal and external meetings
· Pipedrive as our CRM and for activity tracking
· Calendly for scheduling external meetings
· Zoom/Zencastr for podcast recordings
· Canva for post/banner design
· Medium for blog posts
· Mailchimp for our newsletter
· On a case by case basis, we also use Mailmerge for larger sales campaigns or Rebump for automated follow-ups
In our view, having great marketing is about relevance and content. For most, it is really hard to find the time, so we have designed our own processes to maximize the time that we use on sales activities and designed them also to generate marketing buzz and vice versa, such as
· Instead of having a normal sales call, spend some additional time to invite and prepare a podcast that allows you to invite more senior prospects you would like to talk to and share the insights afterward with your target audience
· Instead of writing your own case studies or articles, review and comment on other expert content and benefit from their insights, believability, and potentially reach and also help them by expanding their reach
· Instead of waiting to design a large content campaign, share an article on LinkedIn and tag your connections to who you think this article could be relevant (what we call “micro-campaign”)
Moreover, this also allows for better task allocation and increased efficiency in separating content generation and dissemination.
With this Go-to-Market approach, we created a well-working infrastructure that helps us focus our efforts on our sales, creating regular postings on LinkedIn, establishing me as a thought leader on topics such as InsurTech Trends, Embedded Insurance, etc., and permanently growing our network and reach. It even worked so well that we now decided to onboard clients to this as a service.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Nikolaus Sühr: We usually don’t compete against other insurtechs but against return on investment of various use-cases that we enable or internal IT capabilities of insurers.
Having said that, there are numerous cool companies who offer a range of IT consulting, development, and platform/product services to insurers, and most of them must be doing lots of things right as it’s really hard to win over the trust of an insurance organization.
Our plan to stay in the game sits on four strategic pillars
· Provide a very flexible tool kit that allows insurers to implement a whole range of use-cases with us (different products, channels, follow-on processes)
· Identify some key processes where we really shine, such as our front-end customer journey framework, embedded insurance capabilities, and offering an integrated product and service offering for switching customers from other insurers
· Vertical use-cases knowledge and market insights to be able to help insurers figure out what to do and not only how to do it.
· Understand that opportunity trumps strategy remaining curious and entrepreneurial when discussing new opportunities with clients
Your final thoughts?
Nikolaus Sühr: We know that a lot of businesses struggled during the pandemic, and we are happy that we did not get majorly affected by this. However, we believe that in every crisis, there is the potential for using this as an opportunity to step back, re-evaluate the business model, and come back stronger than before, and we had to do that as well. One key learning for us: resilience and sustainability become relatively more important for growth in a world of increased uncertainty and volatility.