As a tripartite organization, AAM’s clientele is comprised of publishers, advertising agencies and advertisers. Each group plays an important role in the media buying process: publishers create content that attracts readers and then sell ad space alongside that content, advertisers have products to sell to a target audience, and advertising agencies are intermediaries that create messaging and buy ad space to reach specific audiences. The AAM board of directors is composed similarly with each group bringing a distinct voice to the conversation.
AAM recently talked with one of our newest advertiser directors, Greg Bilyk, senior business manager of finance and marketing integration at Sears Authorized Hometown Stores, LLC. Bilyk offers a unique perspective on the board due to the rural audience the company targets and his working relationship with another AAM board company, advertising agency NSA Media.
AAM: Tell us a little bit about Sears Authorized Hometown Stores, LLC.
Greg Bilyk: Sears Authorized Hometown Stores are locally owned and operated businesses run across America. The stores are smaller in size but still with a great variety of brands and products.
We’re opening several new stores this year. Some of those are in previous Sears markets and some are in newer markets.
AAM: You have a unique title: finance and marketing. How did you become involved in both areas?
Greg Bilyk: It’s an interesting hybrid position. It started when I worked at Office Max, we handled media buying internally. I worked in finance but reviewed the contracts and invoices for the media deals. Office Max decided to move media buying to an agency — NSA Media — and I was tasked with overseeing that relationship. It’s a relationship I value; I continue to work with NSA Media today at Sears Authorized Hometown in addition to a digital and creative agency.
AAM: How do you support the owners of Sears Authorized Hometown stores with media?
Greg Bilyk: I’m responsible for providing marketing support including media buys such as weekly circulars, weekly updates of digital and social media platforms, seasonal programs and more. We have a significant print plan mostly in smaller newspapers, but we’ve also expanded into digital like so many other companies. In some cases, we had to expand into digital because there wasn’t a newspaper that covered the area. I enjoy talking to the store owners and working with them in their markets.
AAM: How do you work with NSA Media?
Greg Bilyk: Our stores are spread apart enough that we don’t have a lot of situations where several stores are grouped together to form a market. Sometimes customers come from 40 to 50 miles away to shop at our stores so how can we reach them?
I rely on NSA Media to gather and present all the data for a store. We start out by looking at everything that’s available in the coverage area. Then NSA Media handles the buys, reconciliation, placement and billing — the whole process. I handle the budgeting and forecasting, and we have weekly meetings on marketing performance.
AAM: How are you looking forward to working with other AAM directors?
Greg Bilyk: I’m looking forward to connecting with anyone who has an experience like mine: focus on rural America instead of the larger cities. I’m also excited to share and gather ideas from other people. And I’m looking forward to learning more about AAM’s digital assurance offerings since we’re putting more emphasis in the digital world.
AAM: What types of media do you consume?
Greg Bilyk: I spend a lot of time looking at the media we market in and all media in general. I’ll always get a newspaper as long as I’m marketing in a newspaper, and I tell our store owners to get the newspaper so they can see what the market and competitors are doing.