Canadian Underwriter

Lessons learned in a year when strategy changed on the fly

July 16, 2021   by Adam Malik

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Understanding the relationship between your in-person and online communities is a lesson that one brokerage is taking away after 16 months of change when it comes to marketing and attracting new clients.

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Soon after, many brokerages had sent employees to work from home. At the time, according to a survey by Canadian Underwriter, most property and casualty insurance professionals expected the pandemic to last five months or less.

So when it became clear that the pandemic was going to stick around for much longer than that, the challenge for brokers was to stay relevant with their customers — many of whom were making phone calls to their broker to find out about available relief measures or change their policies to reflect new economic circumstances.

For AA Munro, a challenge was how to connect more with the online community. As in-person events such as conferences and community events were scrapped, marketing to clients was now singularly virtual.

“I think we’ve learned a lot, and I think a lot of what we’ve learned will stay,” said Angus MacCaull, communications analyst at AA Munro Insurance in Nova Scotia. “I think we understand, even more than we did before, the relationship between online and offline activity, and what it means to build a community presence — on a main street and on an internet platform — and how those things work back and forth and play off of each other.”

He believes those lessons will stay. And when combined with those in-person events, the ability to get the brokerage’s message across will have a greater impact.

“When we [get back to] more in-person community events, the value of those events will be greater because we’ll know more about how to translate that in-person presence into an online echo — something that sort of stays around and then shows the brand presence for a longer period of time.”

But it wasn’t easy to get to a point where lessons were ready to be learned. After COVID-19 struck, people were emotionally affected. They were concerned for their own health and that of their loved ones, and they were also struggling with a virtual work environment, a new experience for many.

So to be asked to dig deep and get the creative juices flowing was hard, MacCaull admitted.

“It was difficult, for sure. One of the challenges was just finding the grit to do it, honestly. Lots of our people across the organization put in a lot of hours. They used their awareness, used their creativity for the sake of the company, for the sake of the brand,” MacCaull said. “And so just that grit was hard. It’s hard to push; it’s hard to keep going.”


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