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2020 Retail Change Agent Spotlight: Q&A with Kira Verni, Hammacher Schlemmer

By Sharon Shapiro

The 2020 Retail Change Agent Award honors 10 retail marketers who have successfully advocated for change within their organizations and tied those efforts to positive business results.

Today, we’re excited to spotlight one of the winners: Kira Verni, Email Marketing Manager at Hammacher Schlemmer.

Kira Verni Hammacher SchlemmerKira was selected as a 2020 Retail Change Agent for her work to transform and modernize Hammacher Schlemmer’s email marketing program. Kira made this effort a success by doing research upfront about the best opportunities to grow email revenue, partnering with her VP of Marketing to secure executive buy-in and maintaining close communication with stakeholders.

Sharon Shapiro: Tell us about your role at Hammacher Schlemmer.

Kira Verni: I’m the Email Marketing Manager here at Hammacher Schlemmer. I’m responsible for the email program in its entirety. I also help guide strategy and implement Bluecore technology into other marketing channels such as social, print and (soon to come) SEM.

SS: What are you most proud of in your work with Hammacher Schlemmer?

KV: Watching the email program grow and evolve. I’ve been managing it since 2014 when it was still in its infancy with just three batch emails a week and no triggers. 

Over the past six years, I’ve developed a robust triggered email program, created a system for evaluating product performance, moved away from batch sends to segmented one-time sends based on affinities and multitouch journeys based on lifecycle and predicted customer lifetime value, participated in the beta for Bluecore’s Smart CampaignsTM, migrated from our old ESP to Bluecore and pushed the design envelope. 

As a result of all these efforts, we now have a cutting edge, multi-million dollar channel with double digit growth last year.

SS: How do you think marketing tech and email are evolving, and how do you expect those changes to affect your role?

KV: It’s evolving so quickly, and for the better. We are finally getting the tools we need to be able to run our ideal email programs. “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” is happening now. Program managers like me will always be there to have the original ideas and guide the strategy that speaks to our particular customers, but for the first time the technology will help us instead of holding us back.

SS: How do you get buy-in from leadership and your peers to make changes? For example, your efforts to transform Hammacher Schlemmer’s email program.

KV: Always Be Marketing. Not just your company’s products to your customers. Market yourself and your ideas. Figure out what management and your coworkers respond to, and then personalize your approach. Do they need anecdotes or easily repeatable explanations? Some people just want to know how it’s going to affect them. Others want spreadsheets and data. And everyone cares about results. Start small, talk up your successes and share the knowledge. When you do that, people will be on your side.

SS: What is your top priority for the coming year?

KV: My top priority this year is twofold. I’m going to keep Hammacher’s email program best in class by showing my customers what they want to see, when they want to see it. That’s how I’m going to beat my double digit growth from last year.  

Just as importantly, I’m going to partner with my coworkers to show them how we can use Bluecore technology in their programs and see more of that double digit growth action!

SS: What is your advice to other marketers looking to enact change in their organizations?

KV: Build your coalition. You can’t be in every meeting to promote your ideas, so you need to have advocates. Many companies are hesitant to make big sweeping changes, so focus on incremental, small wins at first to build momentum. Use those wins as your talking points and just keep repeating your message.

More Lessons From the 2020 Retail Change Agents

Ready to take a deeper dive into what the 2020 Retail Change Agent Award winners accomplished and how you can enact similar change in your organization?

Download our eBook highlighting the award winners to learn more and get actionable tips for leading your own change effort.

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon leads Bluecore's content marketing program, collaborating with top retailers and strategists to highlight the latest trends in retail marketing, spotlight industry leaders and share advice on how marketers can stay ahead of the curve. An experienced story teller, she has spent her career building content marketing programs for B2B SaaS companies. Sharon has had works featured in MarketingProfs and Content Science Review..