The organizers of the Midwest Acquirers Association's 2009 annual conference decided to focus on three critical topics to help ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) generate opportunities despite the uncertainties in both the economy and the payments industry. And the planners' belief that the event will be a tremendous success is anything but uncertain.
"Our theme for this year is driven [by] the state of today's economy as it pertains to the direct impact within our own industry and the overall challenges on small businesses, processors, ISOs and MLSs," said Lori Carney, First Data Corp.'s Regional Sales Director and the MWAA's President. "This year we are dealing with financial stability, data security and product innovations to help them create the opportunities we envisioned at the start of the year."
The MWAA's 7th Annual Conference from July 22 to 24 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Ill., is offering two new sessions this year: the ABCs of remote deposit capture (RDC) and the ABCs of prepaid. Additionally, an attendee mixer has been added to welcome newbies.
"The primary reason why the ABCs of prepaid and RDC were developed was from the belief that the organizations selling those products and services get confused as to where they can make money, how the process really works and at what level they can participate," said Donna Embry, Senior Vice President of Payment Alliance International. Embry is an MWAA board member.
The mixer at 4 p.m. on July 22 is the MWAA's way of "earmarking" first-timers. "Our goal is to welcome these new attendees, as well as those women new to W.net [Women Networking in Electronic Transactions] and encourage them to participate in all the activities we have scheduled," Carney said. "We want to make them feel like they are part of something right from the beginning as opposed to waiting until they're walking the floor looking for a friendly face," Carney added. "Now our board members can reach out to those people early and help them open up new networking opportunities."
Mark Dunn, creator of the Field Guide Seminar and the MWAA's Treasurer, will open the conference with his seminar, entitled "Growing your own ISO in a difficult economy," in which he will address two hot topics in financial services. "The economy right now is really showing its teeth, and I don't talk to too many people who say they haven't experienced some kind of dip in their processing, their residuals or their number of clients," Dunn said. "We're going to address the bear-market economy, as well as the issues around [data] security, and discuss not only how you can maneuver through it and grow but also how you can survive. My dad used to say that the only soldiers who made it to general were the ones who survived."
There is no additional cost for the seminar. Dunn noted that the Field Guide Seminar is designed to give attendees a "game plan" with three or four practical steps that payment professionals can take away with them and put into practice.
Dunn said he tries to get attendees to focus on real-world situations. "You want to challenge people's thinking," he said. "For years ISO reps have been asking, 'What's your rate? I can beat that.' You have to be ready to address that, but you should never ignore the chance to offer better payment and compliance solutions." Embry added that if ISOs, MLSs and other payment professionals only take away five or six new ideas or new contacts from the conference, they will not have participated hard enough.
"The very dynamics that go on with designing the content of an annual conference gave us, as a board, the same sort of uncertainty as to how we could raise the bar for regional acquirer shows whose attendance has been down," Embry said. "We wanted to make compelling reasons to attend, so we extended the focus to offer people a chance to get practical information and sales and marketing ideas that are relevant to day-to-day operations and product and value-add sales."
For more information on sponsorship and registration, visit www.midwestacquirers.com/register.php.
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