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Highway 88 specializes in product and marketing consulting for businesses and merchants who are interested in developing effective product and marketing strategies designed to maximize market leadership, product sales, and customer value.

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Bio - Mike Souza
Principal Consultant and Owner, Highway 88 Consulting

Mike Souza, Principal Consultant and Owner - Highway 88 Consulting, is a strategic Leader and Consultant with a proven track record of developing, executing, and marketing high-impact products, programs and services in the Financial Services, Software, and Healthcare space. With over 20 years in the product and marketing arenas, Mike has the knowledge and experience it takes to deliver innovative consumer and business solutions to a wide array of diverse segments and industries through multiple channels.

Mike graduated with a BS in Marketing and an MBA from California State University East Bay, and started his career with market analysis and research positions at Bank of the West followed by Product Analysis, Product Development Direct Marketing, and Product Management post at 1st Nationwide Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, which is now CitiBank West.

He was then recruited to join Visa USA, where he focused on marketing Visa’s Check Card for 7 years where during his tenure he:

  • Was instrumental in the re-naming product from Visa Debit to Visa Check Card, and development of marketing strategy which set foundation for mainstream product adoption in the US.
  • Successfully increased card acquisition from 6 million in 1993 to over 100 million.
  • Established and maintained number one position in the market, with Visa garnering 74% market share plus over 50% annual volume growth rate.
  • Managed the market planning and development of Visa’s flagship debit product, the Visa Check Card, together with Interlink, Plus, and Smart Visa card.
  • Developed and implemented initiatives and marketing programs that made the Visa Check Card a mainstream product in the U.S:
  • Successfully created a new team and process to consult with customers in developing Member Bank business plans. This effort dramatically increased sales, and product usage.
  • Developed a state-of-the-art modeling effort, which improved direct marketing results and tracked product performance.
  • Led market research efforts to evolve branding, product positioning, and further increase marketing program effectiveness, which resulted in higher product awareness and sales.
  • Researched and designed end-user product pricing strategy, which was effective in generating revenue for financial institutions while encouraging strong product sales growth.

Then, as Vice President Small Business Cards and Services for nearly 3 years, Mike concentrated on developing a new Visa Small Business strategy to reposition Visa’s product line:

  • Rebuilt strategy to enhance the perceived value and functionality of the card and charted a course of action for future sales growth. Successfully completed mission to re-launch business line and rebuild department.
  • Results were double-digit sales growth, the high-level performance of a very effective and cohesive team, and the establishment of a solid plan for the future. Sales surpassed stretch credit and debit volume and account growth goals; target volume growth of 24% was exceeded to a level of 40%. Contributing initiatives included:

    1. Creating a new marketing consulting process to develop customized business and marketing strategies with financial institutions, thereby improving sales significantly.
    2. Developing and launching of Partner Advantage, a marketing program that raised direct mail response rates and enhanced product value. Launched program with national print in USA Today.
    3. Establishing a new product portal, which further enhanced product value and sales.
    4. Initiating the expansion of the small business airline co-brand portfolio.
    5. Repositioning the Visa Business brand in order to set the stage for increased advertising, market awareness, and communication effectiveness.

His innovations were responsible for increasing consumers’ adoption of Visa’s array of Small Business products to the point that the project exceeded stretch goals.

Deciding he was ready to enter the .com world, Mike joined Amient, a start-up software company with patent-pending eWallet and procurement software that provided line-item shopping cart detail from any Internet credit or debit card purchase, enforced business-purchasing policies, and cross-sold partner products based upon individual online buying/research behavior. While at Amient, Mike

  • Was a Key advisor to CEO in a major redirection of the company and in product development/marketing.
  • Secured high-level industry contacts/advisors (i.e. previous manager from Visa) to improve business development capabilities and provide input on strategic direction.
  • Collaborated with CEO to significantly reduce costs and increase market focus.
  • Redesigned corporate website to improve clarity of company message.
  • Developed the company’s over-all marketing strategy, growing the marketing organization and managing all corporate and product marketing activities through a variety of functions, including marketing communications, sales promotion, media and analyst relations, advertising, and research.

Mike then spent nearly 5 years at Kaiser Permanente, as Executive Director, Member Financial Services. At Kaiser, Mike

  • Piloted the first combined Health Care Membership/Private Label credit card in the United States through partnership with GE Money Bank with attractive financing options.
  • Successfully launched and managed Kaiser’s first Health Savings Account (CarePay HSA) through partnership with Wells Fargo Bank.
  • Launched Kaiser’s first Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) through partnership with SHPS.
  • Was responsible for development and deployment of a comprehensive CarePay financial account suite for Kaiser’s Consumer Directed Health Care (CDHC) initiative.
  • Developed service marked identity for entire suite of Health Care banking/payment products at Kaiser: “CarePay” which effectively bridges health care and financial services.
  • Developed a prepaid platform and strategy to deliver health care financial awards to Members who are participants in Kaiser Health and Wellness Program.
  • Developed a strategy to promote acceptance of preferred payment cards within Kaiser facilities.
  • Developed future vision, strategy and roadmap for Healthcare payments at Kaiser.
  • Founded and built team from one person to an effectively running unit of 25 banking professionals with four national financial services partners and a multimillion dollar budget under direct management.

Building on his experience and success, Mike founded Highway 88 Product and Marketing Consulting in 2007 to assist businesses and merchants in effectively developing and deploying product and marketing efforts designed to maximize market leadership, product sales, and customer value in a cost effective manner.

  • Effie - New York – American Marketing Association: National award recognizing creative achievement meeting and exceeding advertising objectives and achieving superior results.
  • Gold Effie – “Works Like A Check” – Visa Check Card
  • Gold Effie – “The Boys” - Visa Check Card.
  • EFT Report – Award for Point of Sale Excellence
  • Visa Check Card Program – Selected as the most creative, innovative and effective EFT product of the year.


View Mike Souza's profile on LinkedIn