Data Gets Creative

How Cogeco Data Services’ VP of marketing and communication, Virginia Brailey, is getting the message out about the benefits of the company’s ICT services

A lover of art, Virginia Brailey has been a season-ticket holder at the local ballet for the past 17 years. “If you’re looking outside of what you’re doing, it connects you with your creativity,” she says.

Someone needs to be providing investment advice—it’s just not going to be Virginia Brailey. After completing the first step toward acquiring her investment representative license (the Canadian Securities Course) straight out of university, she realized that it would be more fun working on the marketing side. Today, she has more than 20 years of experience in the field in marketing and product management, and she’s vice president of marketing and communications for Cogeco Data Services (CDS), Cogeco Cable Inc.’s information and communications technology (ICT) arm. Here’s a look at the stats behind her efforts and CDS’s award-winning growth.

Québec-based Cogeco Cable was founded all the way back in 1957, but CDS, the ICT solutions branch of the company, was created after Cogeco Cable acquired Toronto Hydro Telecom on June 13, 2008. Though the arm has expanded over the years, it has always focused on enterprise services, providing businesses with all manner of IT assistance.
Brailey started with Toronto Hydro Telecom seven years ago before the acquisition. She had been recruited from yet another telecom organization, and because Toronto Hydro Telecom was relatively new, Brailey was charged with building up the brand as well as its marketing team. Now her time is spent doing strategic planning and product management with the company and the marketing team.

$1.7 billion
One of the four major organizations within Cogeco, enterprise services (CDS and Peer 1 Hosting are included in this segment) accounts for approximately 15 percent of its parent company’s $1.7 billion in revenue. Whereas the majority of the Cogeco organization is focused on residential and small-business cable services, CDS provides data centres, managed IT, cloud infrastructure, and voice and connectivity services to some of Canada’s largest companies and organizations.

2 awards
One of Brailey’s most successful marketing efforts involved helping transform CDS from a network-services provider to a provider of managed ICT services. To position the organization effectively in the marketplace, Brailey’s team partnered with agency Ogilvy & Mather to develop the “We Speak IT” campaign, which increased the brand’s association with being an ICT provider while maintaining its personality. Advertising taglines such as “All the LAN, SAN, and WAN to make you the Man” stood out during the campaign and helped raise web traffic by 66 percent and new opportunities by 26 percent.

“Our personality is very cheeky,” Brailey says. “We’re all inundated with marketing messages, so it was important to have a little fun with it.” Her and her team’s work won a Content Marketing Association award as well as a Direct Marketing Association International ECHO award.

New lines such as “Baby’s Got Backup,” which reference the company’s state-of-the-art data centres and IT infrastructure backup services, maintain the company’s disruptive and cheeky personality.

150,000 square feet of data-centre space
“We’re in ‘growth’ mode,” Brailey says. To provide customers with the managed IT and cloud services they need, CDS is expanding its already expansive data centres. One of its facilities north of Toronto, launched just last year, is already being expanded, and by next year, another centre in Montréal will bring the combined space of CDS’s centres to more than 150,000 square feet. With six data centres total, combined with its fibre-optic networks and cloud infrastructure, CDS is able to offer a variety of hybrid solutions, including colocation, connectivity, and cloud services.

100% customer-retention rate
CDS’s data centres are built to Tier 3 standards, the second-best classification for determining a centre’s uptime and reliability. And, more importantly, the company owns its infrastructure, ensuring that its evolving public and dedicated cloud services are flexible and secure. In fact, CDS owns the platform in which the cloud services run, giving the company flexibility in its expansion and implementation. Because of all this, CDS offers a 100 percent uptime guarantee along with 24-7 technical support, and this, combined with the company’s ability to build relationships and deliver services that align with business need, has led to an almost 100 percent customer-retention rate.

10 team members
Out of Cogeco Data Services’ more than 250 employees, only 10 are part of Brailey’s staff. “But, from a collaboration perspective, it’s a great combination of big-company resources and small-company responsiveness,” Brailey says. Not only does having a relatively small team allow the marketing department to run efficiently; it means that all voices contribute. “They are an amazing team, smart and dedicated, all contributing to furthering the goals of the company,” Brailey adds. “And we are lucky to work with a great leader and executive team that support agility.”
Additionally, CDS’s leanness offers it ample opportunities to partner with leading advertising agencies and public-relations organizations such as Ogilvy & Mather and Kaiser Lachance Communications. And whenever new products are launched, vendors become a part of the team. So, while on the surface her team may seem small, it has the additional support to remain second to none.