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London 2015 – Get Your Promotional USB Stick Running Gear on

Posted by USB2U on 27th April 2015 | Permalink

Our excuse for not running in the London 2015 Marathon yesterday is that we were too busy printing lots of promotional USB memory stick rush jobs over the weekend and we didn’t have the time. A pretty lame excuse we know and maybe 2016 will be the year it all changes. Perhaps not something to bet on but you never know.

Of course the lack of fitness and stamina across the company might also play a small part! Whilst we’ve got some pretty hardcore cyclists at USB2U (well two) the rest of the team are more of the armchair sports enthusiast type. It’s a sad state of affairs but the reality (as evidenced by this weekend) is that the closest most of us come to any regular exercise is running around in the print room keeping all of our printers churning out USB sticks.

Occasionally we like to mix it up a bit and combine work with sport but by this we mean designing and printing sports related USB sticks. These custom USB sticks in the shape of a running kit are about the closest we’ve ever got to doing any running and of course that’s a “stretch” to say the least!

Sad that it is but our world is centered around flash drives, we eat, sleep and breath them and often we’re working around the clock 7 days a week to supply them against some pretty challenging deadlines. If there was a marathon event or an “Olympics” for USB stick production we like to think we’d be in with a real shout of a medal. Perhaps we just need to get out more!

If you have a requirement for promotional flash drives

USB2U - Running a USB Marathon Every Day

USB2U – Running a USB Marathon Every Day

anytime soon then do bear us in mind. We’re a pretty dedicated team that likes nothing more than to be kept busy. Some might argue that it’s an avoidance tactic so we don’t have to do something more interesting, more stimulating and more rewarding – like running the London Marathon!

We like to think of it as more a single-minded determination to be the very best at what we do. We think of ourselves as the Paula Radcliffe of the USB supplier world but hopefully without the little en-route public “accidents” and we’re certainly not ready to hang up our running shoes just yet.

USB2U – running a USB production marathon every day.

 

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10 Good Reasons Why You Should Buy Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 16th April 2015 | Permalink

Despite the continued growth in use of cloud based data storage services you can’t escape the fact that USB memory sticks are everywhere these days. Long gone are the dominant days of the CD and DVD. USB memory sticks are now the most popular way to save, store and carry data files. They remain a key business tool for many and they continue to play an important role in the daily life of hundreds of thousands of students.

The rise to dominance has not been quick. The first commercially available memory sticks hit the market back in 2002 and the first generation used the original USB 1.0 standard, they had a typical storage capacity of 16MB and they were typically boring, rectangular “lumps” of plastic – the focus then was on functionality and not design.

Skip forward 13 years and today USB sticks (or flash drives as some people prefer to call them) have evolved into a much more sophisticated product that is available in thousands of different styles, designs, colours. More fundamentally they use the latest USB 3.0 standards, they are fast and by comparison to the first generation products they carry HUGE amounts of data – basic models now have storage capacities of 4GB or 8GB but 256GB are available.

In the midst of all of this development and market growth Memory sticks have also become incredibly popular promotional giveaways. Here are just a few reasons why:

1.     Brand development and brand exposure – Branded USB Memory sticks are a fantastic way to get your brand in front of an existing or potential customer. They’re a popular product and people just like being given them

2.     Content delivery – With the vast amounts of storage on offer they are a great way to deliver content. The data can be passive (PDF files for example) which the user would need to click on to view or interactive for a more immersive experience.

3.     Keepsakes – Branded USB Memory sticks make excellent ‘keepsakes’ and there is a high probability that users will save their own information onto them thus making them a valuable asset with high-perceived value.

4.     They’re pretty cheap to buy – The cost of flash memory (the heart of any USB stick onto which the data is saved) has fallen dramatically over the past few years. As a result USB memory sticks have become a more attractive promotional option for many. If you buy in bulk they’ll cost less than £2 per stick (printed and with data loaded)

5.     There are now thousands of designs and styles to choose from and if none of the “standard” shapes are suitable its relatively easy to get a fully customised (bespoke) solution, you just need to build in a couple of extra weeks into the lead time and be prepared to pay a little more for them.

6.     Fast delivery – delivery times are now as little as 24hrs, which includes the printing of a logo so if you are pushed for a branded solution/gift in a hurry they might be suitable.

7.     The minimum order quantity for fully printed/customised USB drives is only 25 pieces.

8.     CD / DVDs are now seen as old hat and are a technology that few companies now want to associate their brand with whereas USB memory sticks are seen a new, innovative, and to some degree “sexy” and are the “new kids on the block”

9.     The technology that USB memory sticks are built on is well established and is highly reliable.

10.  There are lots of suppliers of branded USB memory sticks in the market today so they are relatively easy to source and the increased competition has kept prices low and quality high.

 

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

USB2U – Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

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Tins aren’t what they used to be – Well at least not USB ones!

Posted by USB2U on 10th February 2015 | Permalink

There was a time when a presentation tin box for a promotional USB stick was a pretty bland affair but times they are a changing!

There are two main factors are at play here:

  1. More and more companies that buy USB memory sticks to give-away (for whatever reason) are understanding that you get a much more positive response if your package your sticks rather than just give them out without any thought about how they are presented. It’s pretty easy understand why this might be the case – after all how many of us hand over birthday presents or Christmas presents without 1st wrapping them up or at the very least putting some effort into their presentation. Gifts (even corporate promotional gifts) handed out in pretty/attractive packaging look better, they generate a better response and they provide another medium onto which to promote the companies brand.
  2. Print technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Today it’s relatively simple to print across the full surface area of the USB presentation tins and the price to do this has dropped markedly. The results, as you can see from the images below, are fantastic and really do lift the overall impact of a simple USB stick.
Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

So, if you are thinking of buying promotional USB flash drives anytime soon it is definitely worth chatting through the options for packaging and in particular our metal presentation tin gift boxes. Not only can we now print in full colour (with print bleed right to the edge of the lid) but we can custom cut the foam insert to match any model of drive.

Of course it’s not just tins we offer so if tins are not your thing but you want a gift box then check out the extensive range of options we offer on our website. Pretty much all of them are held in stock in our UK warehouse and most (including the tins) can be printed and delivered in as little as 24hrs (you’ll pay a little more in rush fees for any “rush service”).

Remember we offer free samples (not with your own logo on but samples of our tins and boxes) so if you’re not sure which works best for you just ask and we’ll pop a sample or two in the post.

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

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Don’t sleepwalk into the Branding of your Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 14th January 2015 | Permalink

It’s all too easy when you’ve been tasked to source some USB memory sticks with your logo on to just go for the most popular type of USB stick (the capless twister model), choose a standard colour (most often black) and then get your logo printed on one side of the stick. Easy, job done.

Of course there is nothing wrong with go down the same path as everyone else and let’s face it no-one ever got fired for buying the “safe option” BUT will the safe option really be the best thing for your brand, your company and you specific campaign or initiative. Why not throw off the shackles or at the very least loosen them a bit and think outside of the box. After all there are hundreds of different flash drives on the market to choose from and most can be branded in a variety of ways and all of them can be presented in a range of different packaging options – the variations are almost endless.

Maybe that’s the problem. Does too much choice lead to indecision, fear and delay. Perhaps it’s just easier to go down the path of least resistance and buy a simple black twister just like everyone else. Arguably its “only a memory stick” so why bother spending too much time on the decision – just get it done, cross it off the to-do list and move on.

Branding ideas for USB Memory Sticks

Design Ideas for Promotional USB Memory Sticks

The counter argument is that your brand is one of the most valuable assets of your business and how you present and position your brand is therefore incredibly important. Brands have a personality and are the face of your business and you should do everything you can to ensure that any piece of marketing that carries your brand (or logo) dovetails into the values your brand represents. These will have been hard won and developed over a long time and adherence to your companies brand guidelines and values is critical. You might be happy just buying a simple black twister USB stick but ask yourself if your brand manager would be.

Our advice is don’t sleepwalk into your flash drive branding and buying decision. If it’s too hard or you don’t have the time yourself then let us help. It’s what we do, we know what’s available in the market, we know how products can be printed or engraved and we have a pretty good eye for what works with any given brand or design. WE don’t charge for this, we do it in-house and we’ll simply play back to you a range of different options for your consideration. There is no obligation to buy.

Custom USBs delivered to you in a flash from USB2U

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Chinese New Year WILL disrupt supplies of Promotional USB Flash Drives – Please Plan Ahead

Posted by USB2U on 31st December 2014 | Permalink

We say it every year and every year we give the advice a little earlier because every year, without fail, Chinese New Year has a huge impact on the supply of promotional products like USB flash drives.

Don’t get confused, we’re not talking about the 1st of January which starts off the New Year on the Gregorian calendar that most of us use. No, we’re talking about Chinese calendar and in 2015, according to this calendar; New Year is on the 19th February!

The date that New Year is celebrated changes every year because it’s based on the Chinese lunar and solar calendars but it always falls somewhere between late January and mid-February. In 2015 it’s particularly late (in 2014 in was on the 31st January) and it will be the Year of the Goat (every new Chinese year is marked by an association with a zodiac animal).

Chinese New Year 2015 - USB Memory Sticks

Chinese New Year 2015 – USB Memory Sticks

Why is Chinese New Year an issue for us in the UK? Well if you’re a buyer of promotional products then it’s vital you understand the impact Chinese New Year has on the supply chain of promotional goods into the UK (and the rest of the world). Pretty much all promotional products are manufactured to order by factories in China and the finished items are then air-freighted in in a matter of days. Outside of New Year everyone gets used to lead times of 7-10 days but during the annual Chinese New Year “shut down” the lead times can be as much as 6 weeks or more!

So, if you have a sales event, a marketing campaign or a trade show scheduled for February or March 2015 and you are planning to use promotional items like USB flash drives then to make sure you get them you need to order them early!

Problems develop because China takes its New Year celebrations very seriously. We’re not talking about a 1 or 2 day break but rather a 2 week shut-down! Factories and offices close, couriers stop working and pretty much everything comes to a standstill. Employees travel thousands of miles to be with their families for the duration of the holiday and for once all things work related take a back seat.

In practice what this means is that everyone rushes to place orders on the factories before the holiday starts so the factories will typically impose a “last order day” around 2 weeks before the start of the New Year. This allows them to process all orders and get them shipped before they close. On their return to work 2 later they then face a huge backlog of orders and it can take several weeks before things are up and running smoothly again.

It’s the same with the International couriers and freight handlers – the closer it gets to the 19th February the more likely it is that it won’t go anywhere for 2 weeks.

Our advice and it’s the same every year is to plan ahead, get your order(s) in early and remove the stress from your life. If you do leave things too late then you’re going to have to find a local company that carries blank stock and has the capability to brand it up for you. Unfortunately , very few companies carry blank stock of flash drives in the UK and when they do the stock tends to be limited to a couple of standard models and memory sizes and your choice of colour will be limited.

At USB2U we’ve been supplying branded USB flash drives since 2002 so we carry the scars of past Chinese New Year’s! Because of this we always buy in lots of blank stock so if forward planning is not your forte give us a call.

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Promotional USB Stick Market – Trends of 2014

Posted by USB2U on 30th December 2014 | Permalink

As 2014 draws to a close it’s a good time to look back and review how the market for promotional USB sticks played out over the course of the year. The most fundamental observation anyone looking at the market during the last year is that little has changed.

Promotional USB memory sticks are just as popular now as they were at the end of 2013. If anything their popularity has continued to grow over the last 12 months with increased sales fuelled by falling prices and the ready availability of USB sticks with higher levels of storage – typical promotional USB sticks now have a storage capacity of 4GB and upwards but 12 months ago this would have been 1GB to 2GB.

The falling price has arguably helped drive the USB sticks into new markets. Smaller memory capacity versions (think 128MB) can today be purchased for around £1.50 each. This is the price for a fully branded and data-loaded stick (subject to volume) and it really does put them into a price bracket where hundreds can be bought and just handed out as a speculative promotional tool. Whilst 128MB might sound a small amount of storage it was only a couple of years ago when it was the de facto storage offering!

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

So, in the corporate market there are now two distinct markets developing: i) companies who want to use USB sticks as a “cheap and cheerful” giveaways (often still packed with lots of pre-loaded data files and ii) companies that want to use USB flash drives with a larger memory as part of a more sophisticated sales and marketing campaign.

In parallel with the development of these two distinct market sectors a third market has blossomed over the last year and that’s the market for top quality USB sticks and gift boxes for professional photographers.

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Today no self-respecting wedding or professional photographer would still use CD’s or DVD’s to hand out their client portfolios out on! The range of high quality flash drive packages aimed specifically at the professional photographer (which include some stunning gift boxes) has increased dramatically over the last year. This coupled with a fall in the popularity use of CD’s and DVD’s has seen a surge in sales to photographers.

In response USB sticks suppliers have had to up their game with some now investing heavily in the sector, hiring dedicated accounts managers that understand the photography market an launching bundles and packages aimed specifically at the unique needs of the professional photographer. USB2U is one such supplier – see them again at the 2015 Professional Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC.

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Our Printed Chic USB Flash Drives Can Be With You in 24hrs

Posted by USB2U on 13th October 2014 | Permalink

We understand that sometimes it’s just not possible to foresee that you’re going to need some printed USB flash drives. We know that things get missed off the “to-do” list. We know that other people you thought were taking care of the order for USB sticks can “forget” them and equally we know that other promotional USB flash drive suppliers can be too confident of their ability to deliver against very tight deadlines.

The typical lead-times that most supplies work to is around 5 – 10 days from final artwork approval (which in itself can add a day or two to the process and even them lots of suppliers won’t start working on your order until you’ve paid for them). This is usually fine in “normal” circumstances but if you need your flash drives in a hurry then it can be a challenge finding a local supplier that can help!

At USB2U we not only hold thousands of blank USB sticks in stock ready to be overprinted but we handle all of the printing, data-loading and QA checking in-house. In fact we hold so much stock in the UK that around 50% of all of our orders are now assembled, printed (or engraved) and data-loaded by us in Northampton. This means our customers get a super-fast turnaround on their orders and there is no risk of them getting “stuck in customs” or being delayed because of shipping issues.

In fact with a print and engraving capacity that exceeds 5,000 USB sticks per day we’re so confident in our ability to turn around orders quickly that we offer a 24hr”rush service”! Although we describe it as a 24hr service the reality is often quicker than this because we seem to get a lot of orders in the afternoon which are then printed and delivered before lunchtime the following day – so, in reality our 24hr service is quite often 20hrs or less!

Here’s what one customer had to say about our rush service and what it meant to them and their client last week:

Excellent service. Saved an important account (Philip Noons of JE Group)

We had an important client call us on Friday evening to get a USB order to them by 3:00PM on the following Monday. None of our other suppliers could help us. I emailed Natalie on Friday evening and spoke with her on the Monday. I had the artwork approved and the job turnaround by 1:00PM. A truly impressive level of service. My courier picked up the items and delivered them to our client’s exhibition in London by 2:30PM that day. Needless to say, our client (a highend retaill store) were extremely grateful. USB2U, thanks to their efforts, made us look good.

If you find yourself in need of promotional USB sticks in a hurry then there really is only one place to call!

At the moment we’ve got some special pricing on our Chic USB Sticks and yes, they can be with you (printed and data-loaded) tomorrow.

Promotional USB Sticks in 24hrs

Promotional USB Sticks in 24hrs from USB2U

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Branded USB Sticks from USB2U are Gilt-Edged Promotional Products

Posted by USB2U on 6th August 2014 | Permalink

Promotional products have been with us for over 200 years albeit the first “gift” was just a button that was handed out to encourage voters in the USA to elect George Washington to office! In the subsequent two centuries things have gotten a little bit more sophisticated but in the UK it was only in the 1950’s that things really started to take off and companies began to harness the power of promotional gifts.

Today tens of thousands of companies give away promotional gifts with a value that runs into the hundreds of millions of pounds every year! They give them away to promote what they do, what they sell or just to help build their brand and develop customer recognition and loyalty. Promotional products are typically printed, engraved or embossed with the company’s name, logo or marketing strap line.

They’re commonly used as a “give-away” at trade shows, exhibitions, sporting events, conferences and as part of marketing campaigns where recipients might for example be asked to sign up to receive email offers from the company offering the gift.

In 2012 the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) commissioned a piece of research on behalf of its members to establish what the most popular promotional product was. The results from 1,000 respondents not only showed that promotional gifts had an incredibly positive effect and were, more than any other form of medium, likely to engender brand loyalty and encourage buying behaviour.

They also showed that the most popular product to give is a USB memory stick closely followed by the more humble mug!

Gilt Edged Promototional Products from USB2U

Gilt Edged Promototional Products from USB2U

So, if you are looking for a “gilt-edged” promotional product (something defined as high grade, top quality and with very low risk) then you won’t go far wrong with a promotional USB memory stick! There are lots of different styles and models to choose from and with prices (in volume) starting from well below £2.00 per unit they’re not going to break the bank either.

Unlike other give-aways they can also be used to hand out loads of information about products and services. Simply pre-load the USB sticks with files, video clips, photos, price lists etc. before they are handed out! These days you don’t even have to worry about the grunt work of loading the data onto each USB stick – just hand the data files to your supplier and they’ll do the rest for you and usually they won’t charge for this value added service either!

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USB Promotional Cards – Drive More Sales

Posted by USB2U on 20th June 2014 | Permalink

Even today when we are immersed in social media and blitzed my marketing emails there is still a place for a well designed and well targeted print campaign. Often though the objective of any printed material is just to entice or encourage the reader to go to a web site and either buy something, read something or watch something so the challenge is how to “engage” with the reader and make sure they do this.

There are several options to achieve this the most basic of which is to print the details of the website on the printed material and hope the reader finds it and types it in correctly to their browser. A step up from this is to include a QR code on the brochure or leaflet – when scanned with a QR code reader on a smart phone or tablet this will take the customer directly to your web page(s). This is a reasonably popular option with marketers but for lots of people they have no idea what a QR code is, how to use is and many won’t have a QR code reader installed on their phone or tablet.

There is a third way and whilst it’s new it is beginning to gain some momentum. This new “third way” to embed a removable USB “key” into the printed material (see image below). The USB card simply “pops” out and when inserted into any USB port on a PC or Mac will automatically open the users browser and go directly to the landing page pre-programmed into the web key.

Promotional-P@per-USB-Cards

Promotional-P@per-USB-Cards

Unlike a QR code a Web Key (that looks like a USB stick) arouses interest and almost universally people that are given one of these packs will succumb to the temptation and plug the USB Key in. Your challenge is to make sure the webpage they are taken to is compelling, has offers and deals that encourage them to stay on the pages and ultimately to complete whatever transaction you are trying to conclude.

Do this and do it well and you should see something like a 40% uplift in your messages impact! So taken by this product were the judges of European Promotional Products Industry that they awarded it with their Promotional Gift Award in 2013.

The P@per USB Cards have been designed by Paris based Pixika and are now available in the UK exclusively from USB2U. At USB2U we can take care of the printed material, the USB web keys, the pre-loading of the links and we can even offer you a comprehensive conversion/tracking solution.

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Best Promotional Product for Trade Shows, Seminars and Conferences

Posted by USB2U on 8th May 2014 | Permalink

With the upturn in the economy and a general feeling of wellbeing slowing making its way across the county lots of companies will this year start to reignite their marketing and advertising activities. Many will be dipping their toes back into exhibiting at trade shows, lots will be organising seminars and conferences and even more will be looking to attend such events.

If your company is exhibiting or organising an event then at some point you’ll no doubt be considering whether you should invest in promotional products to support your sales team at the show/event.

Whether you measure it in terms of money, time or resources, exhibiting at a trade show is a large investment and as such it’s critical that this commitment is fully optimised. Lots of energy tends to get put into the location of the stand in the exhibition hall, the design of the stand, the lighting and who’s going to staff but often important things like giveaways and collateral for the show tend to get overlooked.

This is a mistake because whilst an on-stand promotion, a competition or a promotional product won’t make or break a show it will certainly help to maximise your investment. When you’re competing for the attention of potential customers against hundreds of other exhibitors its vital that you equip you sales team with all the tools they need and a giveaway that pulls people onto the stand and gets them talking to your sales team is key.

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Your challenge is to decide what the best promotional product for your company, your sales team and critically for your target audience. What give-away is going to deliver the greatest footfall onto your stand and what’s going to get your product and company to stand out from all the others?  If you’ve ever attended a show then you’ll know only too well that at the end of the day you leave with tired legs, heavy hearts and laden down with carrier bags full of brochures. As an exhibitor you need to “wow” the attendees and ideally secure an order on the stand. Failing that you need to get them interested enough so that when they get back to their desk they recall your company and remain open to further dialogue about your products/services.

The problem is that there are lots of inexpensive giveaways that you could consider including printed bags (which double as a “walking advert” for your brand), printed pens (which cost pennies). There are even sweets that can be printed with your brand and help get people to approach your stand.

With all of these simple ideas there is very little carry through post the event, there is no incentive to use them on an on-going basis and they don’t deliver much information about you’re company or products.

Much better to use a promotional USB flash drive with your brand or logo printed onto it and more importantly with your company brochures, pricing and promotional videos loaded onto it! Not only are promotional USB flash drives much cheaper now than they were a couple of years ago but they can be delivered (printed and data-loaded in as little as 48hrs)

More fundamentally research undertaken by the BPMA shows that of all the promotional gifs given away people prefer to be given memory sticks and they will keep them and use them after the show. This is good news for your brand because it means money spent on promotional USB sticks will lead to on-going brand exposure and of course your sales material will be there every time the flash drive is inserted into a PC!

USB2U deliver promotional USB flash drives in as little as 24hrs so if you do leave things right until the last minute don’t panic!

 

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