Stephen Prince knows it’s all in the approach.
Whether it’s lofting a seven-iron to a back right pin placement, negotiating a landmark deal, or shifting an entire industry’s mindset, Prince feeds off the notion that what you do isn’t nearly as important as how you do it.
In 1993, Stephen left his sales job at Comdata and launched National Business Products from his home in Middle Tennessee. Twenty years later, NBP and its subsidiary Card Marketing Services have helped more than 150,000 customers leverage the power of card technology to better market their business. And NBP’s approach to cards has made all the difference.
“We produce cards,” said Prince. “But what we’re really selling is solutions that build long-lasting relationships.”
NBP was motoring along, selling and producing a variety of marketing products, until 2001 when Prince made a strategic decision. The company would forego any “traditional” printing work and focus solely on cards.
“We really saw cards as the future of retail business,” Prince said. “I’ve always believed that it’s a tremendous concept. Essentially, it gives you as the merchant an opportunity to turn your customers into recruiters and evangelists. That’s powerful.”
Leaning on his processing background, Stephen also decided to shift his company’s approach on its target demographic. He thought, why not go straight to the technology providers? After all, as developers of the Point of Sale systems, those providers served as the foundation for the retail card business.
“The POS system is the critical intersection where the merchant and the customer meet,” Prince said. “It’s the key to building relationships and driving more value to the customer.”
That decision led to yet another advantage for NBP. Unlike traditional printers, who are forced to haggle over price on seemingly every job, NBP could negotiate one overall pricing grid with a technology provider and immediately get to work.
“At their core, printers are traditionally providers of printed products,” Prince said. “Therefore their emphasis has to be on price. Our approach isn’t defined or restricted by price.
“And once you arrive at that price point you can focus all of your attention on serving the customer.”
CMS was created to produce the best retail card experience for its customers, an experience that includes not only the technology and production behind the cards but also the design, marketing and customer service support required to launch the card campaign.
“We’re set up as an in-house card manufacturer so it’s a turnkey solution,” Prince said. “And our service includes the design of both the cards and landing pages, which in the end helps us deliver a more complete, and better, product for the customer.”
The result of that approach has been remarkable growth over the past decade. CMS currently serves hundreds of merchants through relationships with leading technology providers such as First Data, Mercury and NCR.
“Our model is different because our growth is driven by our partners’ success,” Prince said. “We’re committed to getting things done right because we want our partners to look good.
And we’ve never lost a partner.”
Whether it’s mobile delivery, QR codes, or one-off merchant cards, NBP’s committed and continued investment into new technology ensures that Card Marketing Services will stay out front as a leader in card solutions.
But CMS’ primary differentiator will always be its people.
“When you work with CMS on a card project you’re not just getting the Cliffs Notes – you’re getting the entire novel,” Prince says. “We’re there from start to finish and we’re committed to getting it done right. That’s how you build long-lasting relationships.”
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