So much can change in ten years. In an industry renowned for embracing the latest big thing, the last decade has felt particularly frenetic for marketers, dominated by trends as diverse as purpose-led marketing, big data, and Snapchat / TikTok / Clubhouse / whatever else is new this week.
In this ever-changing context, celebrating a decade of anything feels rare. So, at BrandMatters we are very excited and proud this week to mark the launch of the 10th edition of the Vero SME Insurance Index.
Vero, part of the Suncorp Group, is a leading, specialist commercial insurer available solely through insurance brokers and agents. Vero’s brand challenge ten years ago was to engage with their broking audience in a way that demonstrated their support for brokers and lifted their marketing communications above the transactional – a classic B2B marketing conundrum.
And thus, the Vero SME Insurance Index was born. The idea was to conduct a piece of research to help brokers and brokerages understand their SME target audience, and to share insights to help brokers better service this important group of clients. It was, in essence, a classic piece of content marketing before the term had become widely used.
The first Index, which launched in 2012, was based on a simple telephone survey with 600 SMEs. Since that first year, the Index has evolved to become an anticipated yearly event on the insurance broking calendar. At its core is an annual online survey of 1500 respondents, brought to life through a series of reports, webinars, and panels, and enriched through a series of filmed qualitative interviews to tell the stories of real SMEs. Most gratifyingly, the Index is a core brand asset for Vero which continues to support and enhance Vero’s brand positioning and cement its reputation as a thought leader and an expert.
BrandMatters is proud to have been deeply involved with the Vero SME Insurance Index from its inception. We joke that it is a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – as soon as we finish one year’s Index we start working on the next!
From conducting the research, to distilling the key insights, shaping them into a digestible story, and presenting them in a range of compelling mediums, it’s a big job, but always exciting and insightful.
Upon reaching this 10-year milestone, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some key things that we’ve learnt over the last decade.
Over the years, we’ve feared that the findings would show nothing has changed – but that fear is unfounded. Each and every year, we learn something new. While this fear hasn’t come to fruition, it has made us focus on asking new questions, finding new relevant topics and following broader market changes to make sure we always have a source of new insight. Each year we devote around 25% of the questionnaire to new topics, and this has enabled us to simultaneously track core trends while uncovering new findings. The feedback and questions we’ve received from the broker audience have been invaluable in helping us to understand what topics are most interesting and relevant.
Often a new finding will raise more questions, and one of the advantages of a yearly study is that we can create new questions each year to follow up findings from the previous year. For example, one year we discovered that a large number of SMEs were using a mix of channels to buy their insurance – some policies direct and others through a broker. The next year we were then able to delve deeper by asking which policies they bought direct and why. Through this we learnt that while many would like to buy all their insurance through a broker, sometimes it was easier to buy direct, meaning that brokers have an opportunity to win a greater share of their clients’ insurance business.
Quantitative data is powerful because it is measurable and accountable. But as much as we love it, charts on their own can be less engaging and memorable than human stories. Each year, for that reason, we film qualitative interviews with Australian SMEs talking about some of the big topics that we’ve uncovered. These interviews are always revealing, surprising and insightful, and provide a compelling window through which to make sense of the numbers. The interplay between the two phases of research has been a rich source of understanding and helped us create insights and actions for brokers to use in their businesses.
The commitment of the Vero team to make the most of the Index is a major part of its success. While the Index is predominantly a marketing tool, it has also been embraced by the entire organisation, in fact, it has become a valued resource industry-wide.
The ongoing support of all involved has ensured that the Index is not just “nice to know” but is useful, actionable and valued by the people who read it.
Furthermore, the entire team works together to continually evolve and improve the Index. Informed by an additional piece of research, an annual broker survey, Vero ensures it understands what’s working, what’s not and how the Index can better meet the brokers’ needs. We also regularly conduct workshops to come up with new, fresh ways of doing things. At BrandMatters, we value our partnership with Suncorp enormously and are grateful for the commitment the team shows every year to use and evolve the Index.
SMEs are a major engine of the Australian economy, and insurance, while often considered a grudge purchase, plays an incredibly important role in protecting these businesses and delivering peace of mind to small business owners and decision-makers.
Working alongside the team at Vero to understand and tell the story of insurance for small businesses has been an enormous privilege, and we look forward to continuing this journey.