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USB Books – So Long and Thanks for All the fish

Posted by USB2U on 5th March 2015 | Permalink

We love a good read and in our list of favourite books is Douglas Adams fourth book of the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. It was first published in 1984 long before digital downloads and long before digital copies were available on products like USB memory sticks.

Today things would be so different. Whilst printed books are making a real fight of things the future is very much digital and by digital it’s not just downloads of e-books but all forms of digital distribution including USB memory sticks.

Ebooks on USB Cards

Ebooks on USB Cards

We’ve long been used to copying company handbooks, manuals, product sheets and marketing material onto the promotions flash drives we sell but recently we’ve seen a bit of an upsurge in the demand for new book launches to be set up on a card style flash drive and for a copy of the book to be pre-loaded onto it. We’re not entirely sure what then happens to these cards but our suspicion is that they are used at Press events or handed over across the tables at PR organised “lunches”.

They’re a great way to selectively distribute copies of a new book (before it’s officially available) without having to worry about doing small print runs or setting up secretive webservers with secure logins to allow a digital download. If you are targeting book reviewers and you can excite or enthuse them by giving them the “book” on something interesting and unusual like a USB book then you’re halfway there in terms of getting their attention- ok, we’re not saying they’re going to guarantee a 5 star review but it should help.

Music Releases On USB Sticks

Music Releases On USB Sticks

Of course it’s not just books that we’re seeing released on promotional USB flash drives. We’re also seeing lots of interest from small and large musical artists who are looking to release copies of their work on a well packed and printed USB stick. A great example is Peter Gabriel who commissioned USB sticks and boxes from us for his Back to Front Tour.

Some artists have gone the extra mile and commissioned fully customised versions with a “retro” twist like these USB Cassettes – they look amazing, they’re great fun and of course they generate lots of social media interest, chatter and likes which is half the challenge when you’re a young aspiring artist and you’re trying to use all channels to get your name known.

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Fifty Shades of Grey Promotional USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 12th February 2015 | Permalink

Have your cravings for promotional USB sticks have been left unquenched. Are you feeling just a tad frustrated and still searching for the right model? Perhaps you’re not quite sure what you need or what would be good for your brand and you just need gently leading in the right direction.

Perhaps it’s just a case of whipping up your enthusiasm for these fantastic promotional products – the pricing won’t leave your scarred and you certainly won’t be tied up in any long term contract if you buy from USB2U.

Most of our customers, with little encouragement love the service they get and come back to us screaming for more – can we tempt you?

Our most popular product is the Twister model and whilst it comes in a huge range of colours some of our personal favourites are the range of blacks and greys – hence the fifty shades of grey of course (what else were you thinking it might be!).

50 Shades of Grey Twister USB Sticks

50 Shades of Grey Twister USB Sticks

The Twister (or swivel as some people call it) is a great little performer because it has no cap to lose, it can withstand a huge amount of punishment and it looks great printed or engraved with a logo. We carry them in stock in the UK and we can typically print and deliver them (with your branding on) in as little as 24hrs – we work well under pressure so if you do need your promotional sticks in a hurry please give us a call.

We think all of our flash drives look better handed out in a matching gift box and we have lots to choose from in a price range that goes from “free” (our plain white standard boxes are free) to top of the range premium glossy white printed gift boxes and printed presentation tins with laser cut custom foam inserts. Again, these are held in stock by us in the UK and we can print these (in-house) and deliver them with your USB sticks in the same 24hr timeframe.

Whatever your event or campaign is this year it’s time to drop your inhibitions and get a little more adventurous and order up some flash drives with your logo on. If you’re still a little unsure then rest assured because with USB2U you’re in safe hands. Honest.

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB 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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Can you get Cheap USB Photography Bundles (boxes and sticks)

Posted by USB2U on 9th February 2015 | Permalink

The short answer to this question is of course yes. There are plenty of companies that will supply cheap USB memory sticks and gift boxes to professional photographers and if price is your only criteria for making your buying decision then it’s unlikely you’ll buy from us at USB2U.

Arguably it’s the same in the Professional Photographers sector – there is always someone with a camera who is willing to offer a cheaper wedding day package or portfolio shoot and again if price is the only determining factor then that’s fine, isn’t it?

From our perspective we’re simply not interested in a “race to the bottom” in terms of quality and price. We’ve been selling promotional USB memory sticks since 2003. We sell millions ever year to thousands of customers around the world and any cursory inspection of our company accounts will testify to this. We don’t make exaggerated claims about our company or our products instead we prefer to let our customers be our advocates and ambassadors – see our 2,500 + reviews on TrustPilot.

Why is this relevant? Well, if you’re a professional photographer then your might be interested to know that a couple of years ago we extended our range to include a number of products aimed specifically at your sector (general professional photographers, specialist wedding photographers and videographers). We put a lot of time and effort into carefully sourcing a range of top quality USB sticks and matching gift boxes and from day one we set out to make sure that the USB bundles that we sold were very different from the standard promotional products we’ve been selling for years.

We’re not knocking our standard promotional USB Flash Drives (after all that is what we sell the most of) it’s just they are a different product. They might not look like it from the outside but promotional USB sticks are freebie “giveaways” and their performance, specification and prices reflect this. More often than not they’ll find their way into a bin or the bottom of a drawer within a couple of months. They are not and should not be compared to the higher quality products we sell to professional photographers.

All of the USB sticks in our photography bundles have upgraded high specification components; upgraded controller chips, upgraded memory and upgraded capacitors and we offer them with a full 10-year warranty.

To the best of our knowledge (and bear in mind we’ve been in this market the last 12 years) you cannot buy high quality 64MB, 128MB and so on. In fact you can’t really buy high quality flash below 4GB these days so if you’re a photographer and you’re being offered this type of product you need to be asking some very serious questions about the validity of any “quality” statements that accompany them.

Our bundles start at 4GB. We do this not because we want to charge more money for the product and force you to buy more expensive sticks but because we know that anything below 4GB is going to be made using “promotional” standard flash. Put simply our brand and reputation means too much to us to sell you cheap, inferior promotional products and we hope your brand and reputation equally means as much to you and that you’ll invest wisely in your USB presentation packs (boxes and sticks).

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

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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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Wow – The Arrival of the 1TB (One Terabyte) USB Drive

Posted by USB2U on 9th January 2015 | Permalink

OK it’s unlikely to be used as a promotional giveaway any time soon but if you really do need a small, portable USB backup device then they don’t come much bigger (in terms of memory size) or faster in terms of read/write speeds than this new beast which was launched by Samsung at the CES 2015 show in Las Vegas.

Named the T1 it really does take portable storage to another level and demonstrates that there is still plenty of life in the portable storage market. Yes, the “cloud” is having an impact but it’s have little impact at the promotional end of the market and recent “hacking issues” have raised genuine concerns about the security of any data stored in the cloud.

The Samsung T1 is smaller than a credit card (72mm x 52mm), it looks amazing (hats off to Samsung on the design) and they have addressed users concerns over security by including password protected access and AES 256-bit encryption of the data.

Samsung T1 SSD Drive

Sammsung T1 Drive – Image courtesy of ZDNet

Of course the big news (no pun intended) is the memory capacity of the T1. One Terabyte is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of data. That is huge for a product this small. Bear in mind that only a couple of years ago your average USB memory stick held a seemingly insignificant 1GB of data! To give you a more meaningful idea of what you could do with 1TB of storage it will hold 17,000 hours of music or 320,000 high resolution photos or around 250 DVD films! That’s an awful lot of data in something the size of a credit card!

To make sure you don’t have to sit around for hours waiting to transfer your files to and from the T1 Samsung have worked really hard to improve the read/write speeds and claim “unparalleled” speeds of 450MB per second! (Your average USB 2.0 memory sticks have read/write speeds of around 4-8MB per second).

In summary it’s a beast albeit a small, perfectly formed beast.

The T1 will be available in a couple of weeks’ time but we’re still waiting on prices. Expect them to be north of £300-£400. (The smaller 250GB version is priced at £154.79).

To be clear the T1 is built around Solid State Drive Technology and not Flash Memory but it does connect via a USB cable and to all intents and purposes it works just like a USB flash drive (just a tad quicker). No, we’re not offering these as a promotional USB drive option (yet).

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Chinese New Year 2015 will Create a 5 Week Black Hole

Posted by USB2U on 7th January 2015 | Permalink

February 19th 2015 might be the official day for the start of the Chinese New Year but the impact of New Year holiday on the supply of promotional USB memory sticks will last significantly longer than just one day!

The year of the Goat (or sheep depending on your own personal interpretation of the Chinese Animal Zodiac charts) will, for many workers in China, usher in the start of a 2 week holiday that combines New Year festivities with the Spring Festival. It’s a period for families to reunite, to spend time together and to celebrate. There will be plenty of fireworks, plenty of food (in particular fish which is believed to bring wealth in the coming year) and loads of red decorations and lanterns (the colour “Red” is strongly associated prosperity.

The strong desire for families to reunite during this period in a country as vast as China throws up all sorts of logistical challenges and the travel networks become incredibly busy with people spending hours/days trying to get home to the provinces.

In previous years the New Year holidays have resulted in the factories that manufacture promotional and electronic goods like USB sticks closing for a few days but this year the closure period is longer and the “wind down” and “start-up” periods are considerably longer!

The net effect of this is that there will be a period of 4-5 weeks when it will be impossible to get any orders for promotional USB memory sticks shipped out of factories in China. The last day for new orders for many will be the 5th February but the earliest these will then ship from China to the UK will be the 4th March. Even when shipments do start again the factories (and transport networks/couriers) will have to handle a significant backlog of orders that will cause more delays and the inevitable chaos that comes post Chinese New Year!

Our last day for new orders at USB2U is the 26th January (this is for orders that have to be with you before the start of Chinese New Year). Orders placed after this date will arrive around the week commencing 9th March! Clearly this is a huge break in what is normally a very slick and quick supply chain so our advice is to get your orders in now!

To try and deal with the inevitable chaos that ensues every year we will carry lots of USB Memory Stick stock in the UK which we can print (or engrave depending on the product) and which we can deliver in as little as 24hrs (worldwide).

 

Chinese New Year - USB Sticks

Chinese New Year – USB Sticks

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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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If you’ve Still Got Budget to Spend in 2014 – We Can Help

Posted by USB2U on 19th December 2014 | Permalink

Time is ticking and if you work for a company, university or local authority and you’ve got money left in your budget to spend this calendar year then you’re going to have to get a move on and use it. It’s not unusual for budgets to be allocated on a yearly basis (on a calendar year) and typically such budgets are granted on a “use it or lose it” basis.

If this sounds like you then we’d love to help you spend your money. Our core products (Promotional USB Memory Sticks and Promotional Power Banks) are incredibly popular and can be used to support all manner of sales, marketing and educational activities. So, if you have cash left to spend then investing it now in our products rather than losing it would be a sensible decision.

We can work with you in one of two ways:

  1. We can take your order and invoice you before the end of 2014 and then deliver your USB sticks and/or Power Banks as and when you need them. We can even send them out to you in batches with different branding on each batch to reflect different activities you might want to use them for in 2015. Whether you pay for them in 2014 or on 30-day terms (meaning you’ll pay in 2015 but from your 2014 budget) is entirely up to you.
  2. We can take an order from you now and we can print, deliver and invoice your order before then end of this calendar year. We know for some companies it’s critical that goods are actually received within the budget period to allow the budget to be used. Not a problem. Even at this late stage (19th December) we can still print and deliver a wide range of promotional products before the end of the year.
USB Rush Order for 2014 Budgets

USB Rush Order for 2014 Budgets

If this is something you want to do them given the date it’s critical that you get in touch with us as quickly as possible. We are open all through the holidays (with the exception of 24th and 25th December) and we’ll still be offering our “next day” Rush Service throughout.

Don’t worry if your haven’t got all of your artwork and data files ready (assuming you need your USB sticks data-loaded) because our in-house design team can sort all of your artwork out for you and we can data-load right at the last minute (just before we ship your order).

USB2U – we do last minute .com

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