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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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Best Time to Buy Your Promotional USB Flash Drives is NOW

Posted by USB2U on 9th December 2014 | Permalink

As Christmas approaches you’re no doubt thinking about your own shopping and what presents to buy for friends and family. In the run up to Christmas personal shopping tends to take centre stage. Even if your job is to source promotional products for your company for 2015 it can be difficult to focus on work acquisitions when the pressure to make sure you get “just the right” gift for you loved ones looms large.

However to ignore the buying opportunity in the market now for items like printed USB memory sticks (printed with your company logo on) is likely to be expensive. Maybe not expensive for you personally but expensive for your company who will pay more for any USB sticks purchased in January rather than December.

The smart, savvy buyer will know that the pricing of USB Memory Sticks follows broadly the same trend every year and they will pick their moment to get the maximum return for their spend. There are two “windows” every year when pricing is low and that is now (in the run up to Christmas and the end of January) and in the summer.

USB Flash Drives

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Pricing is historically low now because there is less demand (the Christmas effect). The factories in China that manufacture flash memory have already sold and shipped their Christmas stock and as a consequence there is an over capacity of production capability and stock. But, leave it too late and things take a dramatic turn and the reason is Chinese New Year.

In 2015 most USB flash memory stick factories will stop taking orders in mid to late January in preparation for their annual two week closure to celebrate the New Year. So, there is a buyers “sweet spot” from now until mid-January. As you might expect the laws of supply and demand are driving this and as we get closer to the factory closures the prices and panic levels rise!

Our advice, and we say this every year, is to buy now. We understand that not everyone has budgets released until the New Year but we can work with you on that. We’re happy to take orders now and lock in your price at today’s rate and only invoice you next year when your budget is available. If you’re good for terms (and we offer terms to the majority of our customers) then you won’t even have to pay for them until February 2015!

Go on – get ahead of the pack and bag yourself a bargain and reduce your stress levels at the same time. Trust us – buying promotional USB flash drives at any point around Chinese New Year is not for the faint hearted.

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Custom USB Memory Sticks – Don’t Compromise

Posted by USB2U on 11th November 2014 | Permalink

For the last 4 years we’ve been predicting the day when fully customised USB sticks would eclipse the sale of printed promotional USB sticks but we might have been too optimistic in our forecast.

Whilst there has been an increase in demand for custom models they are still a long way from knocking the standard versions off their pedestal. It’s a surprise to us not least because the market in the USA has seen a significant growth in the sale of custom versions and we expected the UK and Europe to follow suit.

We’ve also seen unit prices tumble and historically high set up costs have been removed from all but the smallest orders (less than 100 pcs). Lead times have been cut to just a couple of weeks and the whole customer engagement process (the supply of CAD drawings, physical samples etc.) has been improved dramatically.

So why aren’t more customers buying or commissioning their “own design” USB sticks? We can only assume it’s because we’ve failed to get the message out about just how easy it is to and how competitively priced they are. In the UK we still tend associate “bespoke” and “custom” with expensive.

Equally there is a perception that anything “custom” made will have a long lead time and require lots of active involvement on the part of the customer to get it done – nothing could actually be further from the truth! At USB2U we take away all the pressure and stress. We design the USB sticks for you and we manage the whole production and delivery schedule for you. All you need to supply is the basic idea or concept (in as rough a format as you want).

Custom USB Memory Sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

In our opinion you should definitely consider Custom USB Sticks for your next event or show. You’ll love them and you’re customer will appreciate the extra effort and thought you’ve put into them. Here’s a basic checklist to help you through what is a painless process anyway:

  1. Firstly be clear what a custom USB memory stick is. It is not a standard “factory owned” design that is printed with your brand or logo. A bespoke USB stick, just like a bespoke tailored suit, is manufactured specifically for you and you will “own” the finished design.
  2. Pretty much any 2-D or 3-D shape can be produced so don’t be afraid to ask for what might seem impossible.
  3. There are lots of different material and finishes to choose from with the most popular being plastic, PVC, ABS, Silicon, PET, rubber and wood. If you’re not sure what’s going to be best for you then leave it to us.
  4. Build in a week or two more for your order (that’s all) This will give us enough time to develop a few ideas for you, get your approval on the final design and then get your order sampled and manufactured.
  5. Choose a supplier that has experience of producing custom USB sticks and us ideally located in the same county as you!. There are plenty of companies around offering “standard printed sticks” but very few have any experience in bespoke flash drives and you will need a supplier that has in-house design support to help you develop the concepts you’re your flash drive and produce the 3-D drawing for the factory to work from.

At USB2U we LOVE working on custom USB projects so give us a call and chat through your ideas with us.

Custom USB Sticks - Sumo

Custom USB Sticks – Sumo

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Custom USB Memory Sticks – Our Customers Love Them!

Posted by USB2U on 6th November 2014 | Permalink

Custom USB memory sticks are surging in popularity at the moment. There was a time when a printed USB stick was good enough but today custom (fully bespoke versions) are snapping at their heels in terms of popularity and numbers sold.

Every year tens of millions of promotional flash drives are given away by companies looking to promote their brand, to advertise their products or to disseminate large amounts information. With prices falling and memory capacities increasing the market shows no signs of slowing but there is a marked shift in buying patterns towards the fully customised models.

Of course when people talk about “custom USB memory sticks” they often mean standard “factory” designs that are printed, engraved or embossed but in our terminology a custom version is designed and manufactured to a customer’s specification. It’s a unique one-off product and the customer will own the finished design.

Custom-USB-Shapes

Custom-USB-Shapes

We typically make our custom sticks in a shape of a particular product or something that reflects the broad thrust of a client’s business. Products tend to be more popular which is why you’ll see lots of trucks, ships, tools and medical instruments! Anything is possible.

Custom USB flash drives can create a real buzz and generate lots of internet chatter and discussion on social networking sites so they are a great way get “viral” discussions going.

Don’t be put off by the costs! There is a real misconception that they are going to cost a fortune and there will be large upfront set-up fees and tooling costs. Relax – there aren’t. Providing you are ordering at least 100 pcs there should be no set-up or tooling cost and the unit cost for the custom sticks will only be marginally more than a stand (printed) stick!

Custom USB Memory Sticks - Shapes

Custom USB Memory Sticks – Shapes

The only downside is the lead-time which can be anything up to 6 weeks albeit 3-4 weeks is more typical. The lead time is longer simply to allow for the design and approval process so if you do want to use a custom USB stick then you need to plan ahead.

Don’t worry if you don’t have artwork or a specific design in mind. We have our own team of in-house designers who enjoy a challenge and they’ll happily work with you on developing ideas and concepts for you to consider. Hopefully the images shown here and on our Pinterest pages will help to inspire you.

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Promotional USB Flash Drives – Do You Box

Posted by USB2U on 30th October 2014 | Permalink

Having been around for 10 years some people have already suggested that promotional USB flash drives are past their sell by date and the market is in decline. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. Continued falls in the price of flash drives coupled with high levels of competition in the market have actually driven sales up over the past few years and the appetite for promotional flash drives continues unabated.

Companies, schools and universities are increasingly finding novel ways to use their flash drives. The relatively cheap access to gigabytes of data storage is fuelling their creativity. If you’re given a promotional flash drive today then expect, in most cases, for it to be crammed full of media files, data files, product sheets, social media links and so on. If you’re the company buying promotional drives then you’re in for a pleasant surprise when you discover how much £2 – £3 per stick will buy you! (Certainly compared to just 2 -3 years ago)

With costs of the core product falling its perhaps no surprise that more and more people are spending an extra 20p – 40p to get a printed gift box to go with them. And don’t think for this trivial amount of money you’re going to get something tacky because you’re not – surprisingly this will buy you a plastic magnet box printed with your logo and supplied with a custom fit foam insert to fit snuggly around your drives!

If your USB flash drives are going into a media pack or just handed out at a trade show or sales event then a gift box might be overkill but if you’re handing them out as a “thank you”, perhaps to delegates or speakers at a conference then they are better given away in a gift box.

Bear in mind that the large, flat surface offered by the box gives you lots of scope to print larger and more complex images than you can typically print on the flash drive itself. So if you’re want to reinforce your marketing strap-line or perhaps print out your phone number and website then doing it on one side of the box is a great option.

If you are interested in getting some gift boxes for your branded USB flash drives its worth keeping an eye out for any special offers from USB drive suppliers. In a highly competitive market it’s common for suppliers to occasionally offer “free” printed gift boxes with orders of a certain quantity.

Promotional USB Flash Drive Gift Boxes

Promotional USB Flash Drive Gift Boxes

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