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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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Unlike our USB Credit Cards the Real Versions are taking a Hammering Today!

Posted by USB2U on 1st December 2014 | Permalink

With Experian predicting that consumers will spend £451,000 a minute today it’s a pretty safe bet to say that credit cards are going to take the brunt of the punishment! Let’s hope the website of the leading retailers (and the payment companies that handle the on-line transactions) can cope today otherwise we’ll be in for another day of frustration and carnage.

If your shopping today is restricted to buying promotional USB flash drives for your company’s next marketing campaign then hopefully we can help you with a slightly more relaxed shopping experience. We’ve got over 100 different styles of memory sticks on our web site and lots of them we hold in stock in the UK so we print (or engrave) them to order and deliver them in a day or two (not weeks). By managing most of our orders in the UK we have much greater control over the quality of the finished product and more importantly we don’t expose quite so many customers to the risks of flying in their orders from China.

With the political turmoil in Hong Kong escalating we’re getting increasingly nervous about the knock on effect on our time critical shipments. Our levels of anxiety are not helped by the extra scrutiny that Chinese customs are now enforcing on all shipments! Equally the regular delays to consignments entrusted to international freight handlers like UPS are making life just a little difficult. Now is not a good time to be a “just in time” importer or a shopper trying to bag a pre-Christmas bargain!

USB Credit Cards

USB Credit Cards

Our advice is to de-stress your life (and to some degree ours) by ordering your promotional flash drives from the range we hold in the UK. This includes our USB Credit Card model which we can offer in a range of different memory sizes and which we can print in full colour on both sides (with full colour bleed to the edge of the card). They come in a range of different memory sizes and not only can we turn them around in just 24hrs but we can also pre-load any data you might have onto them as well (at the same time).

As a finishing touch they can be supplied in a leather like printed (or embossed) wallet. These add only pennies to your order but they’re a great way to elevate the overall impact the cards make when they are handed out.

USB Credit Card Wallets

USB Credit Card Wallets

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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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Promotional USB Memory Sticks – Struggling to decide what to buy

Posted by USB2U on 1st July 2014 | Permalink

Promotional USB memory Sticks remain incredibly popular. They’ve been around now for over 10 years and whilst their dominance as the promotional gift of choice has been threatened over this time they still remain the preferred option for many businesses, school and universities. Millions will be given away in the UK alone this year but globally the number will run to hundreds of millions!

Part of the reason for their continued popularity is because they grown-up with us over the last 10 years. Back in 2003/04 when businesses first started to use USB sticks for promotional purposes they only had around 16MB (megabytes) of storage on them and there were only a small handful of designs to choose from. Today thousands of models are freely available and typical memory sizes are anything from 4GB to 64GB! – that’s significantly more storage than you’d get on any average PC 10 years ago and now you can give it away on a USB stick for a couple of pounds!

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Spoilt for Choice

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Spoilt for Choice

If anything the challenge for anyone looking to buy a promotional USB memory stick today is too much choice. Go to any company’s web site selling promotional flash drives and there will be all sorts of styles and designs to choose from. They come in plastic, wood, metal, leather, cork and rec-cycled paper/card. Designs range from “standard” shaped USB Drives to bottles, barrels, keys, pens, credit cards, wristbands, bottle openers, hearts and batteries. Even then if there is nothing that quite matches what you need you can commission your own 2-D or 3-D design!

If you go down the “design your own” route then pretty much anything is possible and there are some great examples on the web of just how creative companies have become at designing custom USB memory sticks.

Of course it you really can’t decide then you could just buy a few of each model! This can be an expensive way of buying your promotional USB sticks though because understandably there are set up costs/design costs that have to be absorbed into the unit cost of each model. But, if you’re buying say more than 100+ of each design it won’t be as bad as you think!

The benefit of buying several different designs/styles is that some work better than others for any given promotional activity or audience. Wristbands tend to work better with the youth so they are popular with schools and universities (and great for fresher fairs or recruitment fairs). On the other hand USB credit cards work better with a professional audience so lend themselves to business seminars and conferences.

If really not sure then get yourself some samples (they are normally supplied free of charge) and that way you can conduct your own market research!

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Buyer Beware – Promotional USB Memory Stick Scams are Rife

Posted by USB2U on 26th June 2014 | Permalink

It’s not quite made it onto Rogue Traders just yet but you do wonder how long it will take before the scams that are rife in this sector are exposed to a broader audience than we can achieve on our blog site.

The problem for anyone buying USB memory sticks is that it’s relatively easy to mislead and to end up buying rubbish. The big problem is that on the outside a fake USB stick can look genuine BUT it’s what under the skin of a USB stick that really matters and not how good they look on the outside. You can’t even trust the brands printed on the outside of the USB sticks because these are easy to fake to!

The Chinese factories will produce any shape of USB you want and print any logo on them – rarely are questions asked about who owns the brand, if there is permission to use the brand and so on. Consequently if you wanted to buy USB flash drives that look exactly like say a Kingston Flash Drive then no problem – how many do you want tends to be the only question asked and then it’s just a question of how much (or little) you want to spend on the internal components!

The fakes might look like the real thing but when used don’t be surprised to discover that the claimed 16GB flash drive only contains 4GB of flash memory. When you plug it in and check the properties of the flash drive it might look like a 16GB but the try and load 16GB of data onto it. If you have bought a 4GB USB drive that has been “masked” to look like a 16GB then when you load more than 4GB of data onto the drive you’ll get a “disk full” error message. Masking is a common problem and because very few people know they have an issue until they’ve been using the sticks the scammers often get away with it.

The other common issue with fakes is their build quality and data transfer speeds. Most fakes use cheap, grade “B” flash memory components many of which will be recycled. As you can image the problem with these components is that they have a high probability of failure and they typically have slow read/write speeds.

Promotional USB flash drives are sold to companies, school and universities in their millions every year and whilst they are ordered from local suppliers pretty much every USB memory sticks will have been manufactured to order and flown in from China.

Pressure to reduce prices and win business has seen some unscrupulous local suppliers of branded USB memory sticks supply “masked” sticks and pass them off as drives of a higher capacity. The only way to be sure that you are getting what you are paying for is to load one of the USB memory sticks to the limit and check that you can load 4GB of data onto a 4GB USB Memory Stick. You’re never going to get access to 100% of a 4GB drive because some of the capacity is used to manage the way the USB stores its data but you should be able to use around 95% of a 4GB drive.

We strongly recommend that you buy from a known and trusted local supply. Ideally choose a company that has been around for a good number of years and who are not going to disappear overnight. You want to buy from a company that is financially stable and is going to be there stand behind any guarantee that’s on offer. A 10 year guarantee is only any good if the company is still around to claim against it!

If you buy from direct from China and pay up-front (as you will have to) then you open up a whole additional set of risks/issue. Only an option for the brave or the foolhardy.

 

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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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What are Grade A USB Flash Drives and Should I Buy Them

Posted by USB2U on 14th May 2014 | Permalink

Promotional USB Flash Drives have been around for over 10 years now and the appetite for them shows no sign of abating. This year millions of them will be given-away in the UK alone prompting the obvious question of what are we doing with them all and isn’t the market saturated by now?

Their continued popularity seems to be fuelled by the fact that prices relative to the amount of memory inside the flash drive (and more memory equals greater usage options and increased desirability) have fallen dramatically and businesses are forever finding new and exciting uses for them.

Whilst lots are still just handed out at trade shows, conferences, seminars and press events today Professional Photographers have adopted them in preference to CD’s and DVD’s. Distributors are using them to send out large catalogues and price lists around Europe, 3D and 4D baby scan companies are increasing giving out (or selling scans) to parents on USB drives. House builders are handing them out in show homes pre-loaded with videos, price lists and interactive applications to help the buyer choose their new home – the ideas and opportunities for their use seem endless!

However, if you are about to start the process of sourcing promotional USB flash drives for your own project then be prepared to be slightly bamboozled by the amount of choice you’ll have and the sheer number of companies looking to sell you USB sticks. Your immediate challenge will be to try and get prices (very few companies quote them on their web sites because they prices are so fluid) and having got prices it’s then a question on trying to work out if you are comparing “apples to apples”.

Promotional USB Flash Drives from USB2U

Promotional USB Flash Drives from USB2U

Whilst USB flash drives can all look the same on the outside there can be huge differences on the inside and it’s what’s inside that to a large degree will determine the price, the quality and the performance of the USB stick (performance = read/write speeds, number of read write cycles the USB stick can perform). It’s also not uncommon for some unscrupulous suppliers to sell fakes – they’ll make a 128MB drive look like an 8GB drive and you’ll only find out when you try to load your files onto them and read the same files in another PC. In simple terms it’s a jungle out there so be careful!

One phrase you’ll see popping up all over the web sites of USB suppliers is “Grade A” – the inference being that they only supply the best quality product and that their product is somehow superior to others that don’t supply “Grade A” USB Flash drives. It’s a phrase and pseudo “standard” that was introduced a few years ago to try and help buyers differentiate the good from the bad BUT there is no regulation over its use, there is no independent authority that makes sure the “standard” actually means anything. Nothing is tested, no rigour is applied, anyone can and does use the phrase and it’s down to the buyer to challenge with the seller exactly what they mean by it and to understand how to check when they ultimately receive their USB sticks.

“Grade A” is now a largely hollow and vacuous marketing statement that means very little. It’s banded around by lots of companies and unfortunately clung onto buy buyers to reassure themselves that they are buying the best in the market. Sadly in many cases they are being duped – we know because we often end up picking up the pieces when things go wrong!

Our advice is to buy locally, buy from a supplier who has a hard fought for reputation in the market and who is not going to put it (and your relationship and brand) at risk by selling you rubbish.  Check out 3rd party review sites to see what other customers are saying, do basic checks like using Google Maps to check out the suppliers address (you’ll be surprised how many companies that look great on their web site operate from a residential house) and if you can run and Experian, Credit Safe or Equifax check on the company to check their financial stability – if things do go wrong and you need to claim against the long warranties on offer then you need to have some confidence that they are going to be around to honour them!

At USB2U we use “Grade A” as a statement in our marketing because the market dictates that we do but in our case it’s true – we are careful not only to specify the standard and grade of flash memory used in the manufacture of our USB sticks but we also specify the controller chips and the capacitors – all 3 components are critical in terms of performance and reliability and if you skimp on these then you undermine any intent to supply top quality promotional USB flash drives.

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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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Buying Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 20th March 2014 | Permalink

It’s understandable in today’s economic climate to make sure when you’re buying promotional USB flash drives that you do your research and get the best possible price you can for the flash drives you buy. So cheap is best right? The answer is “not necessarily”.

The problem with just using cheap as the benchmark against which you make your buying decision is that it can mask all manner of other issues and the potential problems of buying “cheap” can include but are not limited to damage to your brand and reputation. Ironically often the exact opposite of what most companies are trying to do when they hand out promotional products.

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

If all promotional USB memory sticks were manufactured to the same specification and all suppliers took the same degree of care and responsibility in the supply of your order then a decision based on price would be reasonable. But, buying promotional USB flash drives is not, for example, like buying a Samsung TV of a particular model where you know exactly what you’re buying because every reseller is selling exactly the same product and you can read not only the reviews on the product but on the supplier as well!

Instead buying flash drives is a bit like entering a minefield – one wrong step and you could be looking at a very costly mistake.

Why is it so difficult? Well the fundamental problem is that although lots of USB sticks look exactly the same on the outside it’s what is on the inside that is important. Buy cheap and you’re likely to get something that looks pretty good but inside the shell will be cheap components (cheap flash memory, cheap controller chips and a cheap capacitor) that are likely to fail or will have very slow read/write speeds and might even be masked (this is an expression used to describe flash drives that have been “adapted” to make a 128MB chip look like a 4GB chip).

Over the 12 years or so we’ve been selling flash drives we’ve heard our fair share of horror stories and our advice is simple:

  1. Buy local because at least this way you can check out the supplier, you can read reviews on their service, you can spend a couple of £ and find out who’s behind the company and if things do go wrong then at least you have some recourse in law (in a jurisdiction you are familiar with).
  2. Get some assurance from your supplier on the type/quality of the components used inside their USB sticks (get this confirmed on the order as well as just the memory size).
  3. Read the terms and conditions of supply and ideally don’t part with any money until your USB sticks are ready to ship – if you have a good credit record then ask for payment terms. This way you’ll get your USB sticks before you have to pay for them and you can make sure they are exactly what you were expecting.
  4. Read the reviews sites and see what other customer are saying about the suppliers you’ve contacted.
  5. Check the length of any warranty and be clear about the process to invoke any claim under the warranty.

Yes the price is important but so is your brand so make sure you are buying from a supplier that you feel comfortable trusting your brand and your company’s reputation to.

 

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