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Archive for March, 2012

Launch Your New Catalogue On A USB Flash Drive

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

If you still feel the need to supply your customers with a physical catalogue of some description then with the forthcoming increase in postal charges perhaps now is the time to consider sending a digitised version.

Whilst lots of companies have made their catalogues available on the web many still send a paper version out in the post. Part of the reason for doing it is just to “remind” the recipient about the company, who they are and what they do. How many of these paper catalogues end up straight in the bin is debatable but a short (unscientific poll) amongst our customers suggests it’s a lot!

Paper brochures and catalogues are not cheap to design and print and if you end up posting out heavy catalogues overseas then the costs can spiral dramatically.

Wouldn’t it be better to use the content you have already digitised for the web and pre-load it onto a USB flash drive as an “electronic, interactive catalogue”? You could then post the USB flash drive to your customers rather than a paper version.

The beauty of doing this is that not only will it be cheaper to produce but, the USB flash drive can be printed with your company logo and posted for the price of a 1st Class Large Letter stamp!

Your catalogue can be “locked” on the flash drive so it can’t just be deleted but it’s a good idea to use a flash drive that offers a little bit of extra space for the recipient to store their own personal data – this way there’s a strong chance that the flash drive will get lots of repeat usage and your brand will get lots of exposure.

There are lots of different styles of flash drives to choose from so there is bound to be something that fits with your corporate style/image but if there’s not you could always commission your very own unique shape – a growing number of companies are getting their flash drives manufactured to look like a particular product they sell or in some cases in the shape of the company logo. These custom USB drives are real attention grabbers and a great way to circulate your brochure, price lists and media files.

So next time someone in your marketing department mentions a re-print of your corporate brochure or product catalogue it might be worth mentioning the option of a catalogue on a USB flash drive.

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Not Got the Promotional USB Flash Drives You Ordered?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The very nature of promotional USB flash drives means that they are typically ordered by companies for a specific trade or retail show, a seminar or a marketing campaign.

The flash drives tend to be one component in an overall package of items that are brought together to support the activity and whilst they might not be that expensive (certainly in the context of trade shows where stands, banners etc. can run into thousands of pounds) they are nevertheless often critical to the overall event.

So, if you’ve ordered 500 promotional USB flash drives for a time critical event and they don’t turn up, or only some of them turn up, or worse still they turn up but they are wrong or don’t work then who’s to blame and what recourse do you have?

The answer to this question is, as you might suspect, not straightforward because it depends on a number of factors the two principal ones tend to be what Terms and Conditions you agreed to be bound by when you placed the order and where/who you bought the promotional USB flash drives from.

Terms & Conditions of Supply:

What Terms & Conditions have you agreed to (knowingly or not knowingly) have a significant bearing on any recourse you might have against not-delivery or problems upon delivery.  Before you commit to any order for promotional products (including USB flash drives) read the small print. Everyone has a habit of just casually ticking the box that say you agree to be bound by the T & C’s of supply without actually reading what you’re committing yourself to but if you do this don’t be surprised if you options when things go wrong are pretty limited!

Some common examples of things that most T & C’s bind you to are:

  1. Accepting a shortfall of up to 5% on your order – not great if you actually need all of the USB sticks you’re ordered for an invited guest list!
  2. Accepting an over supply of up to 5% and expecting you to pay for the additional USB sticks you’re been supplied.
  3. Accepting a delivery date that is really just an estimate with no guarantee behind it.
  4. Force Majeure – this is a standard clause that most suppliers will include and it removes any liability from them for their failure to deliver on time. It relates to things that are outside of their control, e.g. strikes, industrial action, riots and severe weather events. This is a reasonable clause because as it suggests it deals with issues the supplier has no control over but you do need to think about the implications of it if you know the goods you are buying are being shipped from overseas (there are simply more things that can go wrong in such circumstances).

Getting your supplier to take responsibility:

If you’ve purchased your promotional USB Flash Drive from a local company, governed by local legislation and things go wrong then you’re in with a fighting chance of getting a resolution. This is particularly true for the more established and high profile suppliers who have a reputation to protect – seek out those that encourage customer feedback and response to their service(s) on the growing number of 3rd party review websites. These can provide a good barometer of the level of service and support you are likely to get.

If you’ve chosen to buy from China because you wanted to cut out the “middle man” then don’t be surprised if you can’t get hold of anyone when things go wrong. Whilst there are some genuine suppliers out there, there are also lots of horror stories of customers sending money to suppliers in China only for nothing to arrive or for USB sticks to arrive that look great but don’t work!

Recommendations:

If you need you USB sticks in a hurry then ideally buy them locally. If you need them for an event with firm, immovable date then factor in plenty of time to deal with any delays or issues. Only deal with reputable, trusted and known suppliers who have clear unambiguous Terms & Conditions of supply that you have read.

Only deal with suppliers from China if you can get authenticated certificates to cover your RoHS liabilities (worth reading up on this Restriction of Hazardous Substances Legislation) and ideally only if you can pay the supplier once your USB sticks have been received and you are happy with them.

If you do all of the above then hopefully you’re reduce your chances of things going wrong or at the very least be dealing with a local supplier that will work with you to resolve any issues in a timely and professional manner.

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Ultra Thin USB Cards Double Up As Business Cards

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Like a lot of trends in the computing sector at the moment the humble USB flash drive has gone all thin and low profile.  A standard lozenge shaped drive USB drive is around 7mm thick so it’s not exactly heavy round the girth but a version of the drive that has become popular very quickly is the super thin business card shaped drive that’s’ only 2mm thick!

In reality this is about as thin as they are every going to get because the USB connector is about this thick on it’s own and it needs to be secured in some sort of housing.

Wafer Think USB Cards

Wafer Think USB Cards

Some describe these super thin or “wafer” style USB cards as “credit card USB flash drives” others refer to them as “business card USB drives” – either way they’re very very thin and with the launch of the MacBook Air, the iPad and other ultraportable laptops they are bang on trend.

The beauty of these USB drives when printed up to look like a business card is that they still look like the business cards we’re all used to handling, giving out and receiving. They fit in standard business card wallets and they immediately convey the core information about the person giving out the cards.

But, the real beauty of these USB business cards only becomes apparent when you plug them into your PC. If the giver of the card has been sensible he or she will have pre-loaded them with details of their companies products, price lists, technical data, press releases and where possible media files (movie clips, audio files etc.) In doing this an inert business card can be brought to life and becomes not just a carrier of personal information but a fully blown advert and sales aid.

Because they are so thin the cards can easily be sent out in the post with attracting higher package post charges – in fact they’re so thin and light you can get away with sending them out using standard first class post albeit they create their biggest impact when they are handed out in the same way you’d hand out conventional business cards.

Expect to pay a little bit more for this type of USB flash drive but bear in mind they are usually printed with lots of different contact names and phone numbers on and the set-up of this leads to the higher price.

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Drive Your Sales With Promotional USB Flash Drives

Monday, March 19th, 2012

If you’re sales have gotten off to a bit of a sluggish start this year then it might be worth thinking about how promotional USB Flash Drives could help inject a bit of “oomph” into them.

Whilst they are not a panacea for all sales challenges, used correctly, they can certainly help reinvigorate your sales force and add a much needed new impetus to your sales enquiries which will hopefully lead to an increase in sales.

Promotional Flash Drives (that’s USB sticks printed or engraved with your company logo and typically pre-loaded with sales material) are a great tool for your sales team because they provide the sales team with a reason to call on customers, they give them a “door opener” and they generate good will and product and brand recall.

Despite the fact that lots of people will already have one or more USB flash drives they can’t seem to get enough of these handy little gadgets and it’s widely accepted that meetings are easier to set up with the promise of one being handed over (of course it helps if its got a decent amount of memory like a 4GB or 8GB).

As well as being given to your sale team to hand out during face to face meetings they’re also good for driving traffic to your web site and sales enquiries to any in-house sales team you might have. Just put out a couple of adverts or make a few changes to your pay per click adverts highlighting that you’re giving away an 8GB USB flash drive to every legitimate sales lead and you can expect to see a lift in your enquiries.

You can drive sales equally as well by sending out promotional USB flash drives as part of a direct mail campaign (ideally choose a model that is slim enough to slot into a standard envelope and can be sent using standard post). Just include the promotional USB stick and refer to the data-loaded on the sticks in the covering letter or flyer – get creative and run competitions based on the content pre-loaded on the USB sticks – this way you can be sure that the content will be read and prospect will absorb (hopefully) your proposition and be more inclined to contact you.

None of this is rocket science it’s just about using products like USB flash drives as part of a sales and marketing mix – at the moment people like being given flash drives, they respond well to campaign and offers that use flash drives and with prices dropping it’s certainly worth spending a couple of hundred pounds to test their ability to improve your sales.

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Promotional USB Flash Drives –Delivered in 24Hrs

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

We all know the feeling. You’ve been planning your company’s participation at a major trade show for months and you’re pretty confident that you’ve got everything on track and you’re safe from any last minute “dropped catches”. That is until your boss decides that it might be a good idea to give away promotional USB flash drives from the show stand!

No doubt your boss will have recently been given one of these himself at a similar show (probably from a competitor) and had been meaning to tell you for a while that he wanted them for your show – it just “slipped his mind!”

Oblivious to the trauma you’ve experienced over the last few months in the run up to the show as you try and juggle organising the stand (design, floor plans, equipment, electricians, staff to man it, invites to key customers, promotion and advertising, tweets, website promotion, printed brochures, name badges and beverages for the staff on the stand) he now wants you to pull a “rabbit out of the hat” and deliver promotional USB flash drives with your logo printed on them in less than 2 days! Easy (not)!

Whilst you might think promotional USB flash drives are a good idea (you’ve probably mentioned them to him in the past but interestingly they are now his idea!) getting them organised in such a short amount of time is not going to be easy. The only saving grace is that you do have the artwork you want printed ready to go because you’ve had it created in high resolution format for the stand and other giveaways.

If you hit the internet and punch in your requirements to a popular search engine you’ll soon find a plethora of USB suppliers that purport to offer a fast turnaround but your relief is likely to quickly turn to anxiety when you realise that their interpretation of “fast” is 3-5 days!

The problem is that very few suppliers are willing to carry local stock of USB flash drives because they know if they don’t sell them that they’ll be stuck with an asset that rapidly depreciates in value (the price is USB flash drives halves every 12 months).  If you do find a supplier with stock they also need to have the capability of printing them on the day you place your order – a big ask!

Only a very small number of USB suppliers are big enough to hold stock and have in-house design and print capabilities and one of these is USB2U – now in their 10th year they able to supply a range of different types and memory sizes of USB sticks printed with your logo in as little as 24hrs (assuming you get your order and artwork to them in the morning that is).

So, if you do get given the “monkey” of getting promotional USB flash drives at very short notice don’t mess around going to lots of different companies just pick up the phone and speak to the team at USB2U.

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We’re Hiring Again – More Account Managers Needed in Our USB Flash Drive Team

Monday, March 12th, 2012

At USB2U we sell promotional USB flash drives and fully customised USB memory sticks. We’ve been selling them since 2002 and today we have thousands of customers around the world.

Our customers come from all sectors; some are start-ups, some a global brands and a good number are schools, universities and government sectors/departments. Orders range from small “test” orders of 25 pcs all the way through to orders of tens of thousands. Irrespective of their size every customers orders is managed by a dedicated account manager who works hand in hand with our design team, our production team and our despatch team.

Every order we handle goes through a rigorous QA process and we follow up with all of our customers after we’ve delivered their order to make sure they are happy with their order and how it was handled.

Lots of our customers come back to us time and time again for repeat orders which seem to suggest that we’re getting something right! Today, in our tenth year of business we expanding again and we’re looking to add to our sales team.

We’re based in Northampton (in the Midlands), we have an in-house design team and we have our own professional data loading, printing and engraving equipment on site which allows us to offer a flexible and timely solution to our customers.

The vacancy we are looking to fill is a classic mix of sales and account management. We don’t outbound “cold call” so it’s all about responding to inbound sale leads and then working with the customer to make sure we deliver the USB memory sticks the customer wants on time for their event, show or exhibition. Lots of our customers are working towards very tight deadlines and because it’s their brand or logo that’s being printed on the USB sticks it’s critical that we get everything spot on first time around – so, it’s a challenging, sometimes stressful but ultimately rewarding job that will suit someone with some sales experience and someone who enjoys working under pressure as part of a small (but growing) team.

You’ll get a good feel of what we’re about by going to our web site: www.usb2u.co.uk and by reading the summary job description here.

If after doing this you’re interested in taking things further then give us a call or send an email to Sebastian@usb2u.co.uk telling us a little about yourself. If you could also attach a copy of your CV that would really help.

Thanks for looking!

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Where To Go If You Need Printed or Engraved USB Sticks In A Hurry

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

If you’ve been dropped in it at the last minute and given the challenging task of finding a company that can deliver USB memory sticks printed (or engraved) with your logo on within 24hrs or so then good luck because you might need it.

Whilst there are lots of companies that claim to be manufacturers of USB memory sticks with some even stating they have their own dedicated factories the reality is that the vast majority are simply middle men who take your order and place it on a supplier in China. The value they add to this process is, in many cases, limited and because they are dealing with factories in China the lead times tend to be at least 10-14 days (although some will suggest they can do it more quickly). So, beware of companies offering fast lead times if all they are going to do is ship them in from China.

What lots of suppliers won’t tell you is that even if they manage to get their Chinese supplier to produce them quickly and ship them out there is still a risk that they will get delayed in customs – it’s not unheard of for customs (at either end of the shipment chain) to impound goods and demand more information before releasing them. This is a particularly common problem if the brand printed on the USB sticks is a well-known, global brand like IBM, Nike or Microsoft because the customs teams are always on the lookout for forged goods.

If you are in a hurry for your printed USB memory sticks you need to find a local supplier that not only holds blank stock of the sticks but has the capability to print or engrave the sticks in-house and get them delivered to you within a matter of hours or days. This way you de-risk the whole thing because you know the USB sticks are being held locally and you can confirm an exact printing and shipping schedule – you could even arrange a “point to point” same day van or collect them yourself.

The challenge of course is finding such a supplier because very few are willing to hold in stock a wide range of USB memory sticks that they “might” sell particularly because the price of the sticks drops over a relatively short period – so holding stock is a risk and of course requires a capital investment that not many of the smaller suppliers can carry.

In the UK one of the few suppliers that hold stock and can offer a rush 24hr service are USB2U. They’re in their 10th year of supplying USB products are your best chance if you need digging out of a hole.

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Loading Files Onto USB Memory Sticks Is Tedious But Essential

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

If you’re looking to buy USB memory sticks printed with your company name on and you plan to give them out to customers at a show, event or conference then you’d be crazy to give them away without taking advantage of the storage capacity on them.

USB memory sticks are very popular giveaways at the moment because they’re not that expensive (albeit they have a high perceived value), they’re small and easy to carry and they come in a wide range of styles and colours which makes them ideal for branding up with a logo.

Most USB sticks that are given away will have a storage (memory) capacity of around 1Gb to 4GB, which is huge and will support thousands of documents and hundreds of media files. It was only a few years ago that PC’s were shipping with this sort of Hard Disk Drive capacity and now we take it for granted on a humble little USB memory stick!

USB Data Loading Machines

USB Data Loading Machines

So, if you’re going to give away a product that’s primary use is to store and transport data on it makes sense to put your own files onto the USB drive before you hand them out. After all, if the objective of giving them away is to build awareness about your company, your products and what you do doesn’t it make sense to load onto the drive, documents, PDF’s, media files (move clips, adverts, etc.) that really show off what you’re about and how the recipient of the drive can get in touch with you.

The only downside to pre-loading your USB memory sticks with data is actually doing it! If you have to manually load each and every stick yourself one at a time on your PC or Mac then not only can it take hours but you’ll soon find its one of the most boring and tedious activities known to man! If you’ve got lots of data to load each stick can take 5-10 minutes at a time so if you’ve got hundreds to do you can end up writing off an evening or two and sometimes a whole week-end!

Far better to simply hand over the data files to your USB memory stick supplier and give them the problem. It’ll mean you’ll have to be super organised and get your data ready early but if you can do this it’ll be well worth it.

Most USB memory suppliers (well those worth dealing with) will have their own in-house data loading machines that will not only load the data automatically but they’ll also run checks on the data as it’s loaded to make sure its OK and they’ll also make sure the data is virus free! You don’t want to go handing out flash drives that end up infecting the PC’s of all your customers!

So the advice is always data-load but always get someone else to do it for you (where at all possible).

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Geneva Motor Show – 8th -18th March – Lots of USB Flash Drives on Show

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

The 82nd Geneva International Motor Show opens  in a couple of days’ time and despite the economic doom and gloom across Europe the show organises are still expecting more than 700,000 visitors to attend the show. Add to this the 10,000 members of the press and the staff and entourage of the 260 exhibitors at the show and you start to get some idea of the scale of the event – it’s huge!

This year alone more 180 new models and designs will be unveiled at the show and to top things off and add to the excitement the winner of the 2012 Car of the Year Award will be announced during the show.

What’s going to be interesting at the show this year is just how many of the motor manufacturers will use promotional USB flash drives at their press events and on their stands – based on the number of printed USB flash drives we’ve supplied to a variety of different exhibitors’ at the show it’s going to be quite a lot!

Traditional “paper” and CD/DVD “Press packs” are increasingly being replaced by USB flash drives partly because they are cheaper but also because they are more popular with the journalists who don’t really want to lug around heavy, glossy packs from every manufacturer press briefing session they attend. But it’s not only about the reduction in weight, you can load video clips, adverts, interviews, product sheets, FAQ’s and so much more on a decent sized USB flash drive.

Promotional USB Drives

Promotional USB Drives

Whether “petrol heads” will be as enthusiastic about a printed USB flash drive instead of a nice, thick, glossy brochure with lots of photos they can drool over is a different matter. But, if USB flash drives are what does it for you then you are likely to be able to collect a bag full of them at the show – arguably the value of the drives you could collect (and other associated goodies) could far outweigh the entry costs to the show!

The other interesting dimension in all of this is whether the custom and printed USB drives handed out at events like the Geneva Motor Show will become collectors’ items of tomorrow. There’s no doubt that if you can get your hands on a Ferrari, Bentley or Aston Martin USB stick that it’ll be worth tucking away for a few years – if you can get one in a presentation box then so much the better! As ever it will be the scarcity of the item combined with the exclusivity of the brand that will drive any future value.

So, if you’re planning to attend the Motor Show this year keep a beady eye out for promotional USB flash drives and where you can grab a few from the top marques. If you can’t buy the cars on show then you never know in a few years’ time the USB sticks you pick up today might go some way towards paying for your car of tomorrow!

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Promotional USB Memory Sticks – Engraving or Printing – Which is Better

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Demand continues to grow from companies, schools and universities for promotional USB memory sticks. Most tend to be used to drives sales, to develop a brand or simply as a way to push out lots of information (by pre-loading the USB sticks before they are handed out).

A typical promotional USB memory sticks is printed or engraved with a logo, strapline, website address, most tend to have a memory capacity of between 1GB and 4GB and increasingly they are pre-loaded with data (sales material, press releases, product data sheets etc. before they are handed out).

There are lots of different styles and designs to choose from and they come in a range of different materials with plastic, wood (bamboo) and metal being the most popular. Some can be attached to a lanyard or keyring, others (like the USB credit cards) slip into a wallet and some are supplied in a presentation of gift box.

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

The majority of the promotional USB sticks tend to be printed rather than engraved simply because printing is the preferred option of many of the supplier/manufacturers. Equally, many companies and schools buying the sticks want their logo’s and images presented as strongly as possible and ideally matching the pantones they use on other printed media. Printed flash drives done well can look strong, vibrant and eye catching and if they are being inserted into other printed media (brochures, direct mailers, press packs etc.) then a co-ordinated approach with consistent branding is likely to be important.

The only downside with printed USB flash drives is that over time the print will tend to scratch off. Printing onto metal, wood and leather can be challenging in the first place with specialist primers and treatments often needed to ensure a good adhesion is made. Even when these are used if the USB sticks are put onto a keyring the print is likely to come away simply because of the knocks and bumps they pick up in daily use. It’s the same if they are just tossed into a handbag of laptop bag, over time the print will scratch and once the surface tension on the print is broken the print can start to peel away.

Engraving on the other hand is, by its very nature, impervious to the bumps and bashes of everyday life. Engraving is particularly attractive on wood, metal and leather USB sticks where you can achieve an excellent contrast with the material that is being engraved. Arguably engraving (although lacking in colour) looks more professional and any engraved brand or logo will certainly outlast an equivalent printed logo.

Ultimately to engrave or print has as much to do with the personal preference of the person placing the order (or signing it off). On the right material and with the right artwork engraving can look stunning and the finished result won’t fade or chip away over time.

If you’re not sure whether to get your promotional USB memory sticks engraved or printed ask your supplier to send you samples of both – often it’s better to make a decision once you’ve seen and handled one.

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