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Archive for the ‘Promotional USB Drives’ Category

Branded USB Sticks from USB2U are Gilt-Edged Promotional Products

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

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

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

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

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

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

Friday, June 20th, 2014

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

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

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

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

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

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

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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Looking for a Good Young Enterprise Idea? – What About Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

This year there will be around 250,000 students participating in the Young Enterprise programme. At some point they’ll all be at that tricky point when they’re trying to come up with that “killer” idea that will ensure the success of their initiative.

No doubt they’ll all have been glued to the latest episodes of Dragons Den and a few of them might have poured over copies of Richard Branson’s and Alan Sugar’s autobiography to get some insight into what makes a successful entrepreneur tick.

But when it comes down to it having that “gem” of an idea is what’s needed to get you started and then it’s all about execution, teamwork and enthusiasm.

One option for any Young Enterprise team is to consider selling promotional USB memory sticks – these are USB sticks that carry a company’s brand or logo and optionally also have data-files pre-loaded onto them.

Promotional USB memory sticks are incredibly popular at the moment because they’re so easy to use, they’re small, portable and they come in a great range of styles and colours. Millions are sold every year to businesses that use them as a give-away to prospective customers at shows, exhibitions and events. Typically businesses will pre-load the USB sticks with sales brochures, presentation files or media files before they are handed out – this way they can offset the cost the USB sticks by saving they make by not printing their sales collateral.

Because of their popularity there are lots of opportunities for a Young Enterprise Group to sell promotional USB memory sticks including selling them to their fellow students, selling them in the school shop and to teachers, lecturers, parents and friends. They can be sold (pre-loaded with photographs) following school sports days, award ceremonies, stages plays and musical performances.

The primary target has to be local businesses – use your “local” knowledge and your networks and any contacts parents of the group might have. If this is just too big a leap then just target he school and gets some USB sticks produced with the school logo or crest on and sell them through the school shop.

Finding a supplier of USB sticks that is supportive of an Enterprise Initiative will be key. Ideally you need to identify a supplier that won’t demand payment up-front (This way you’ve got around a month to sell some before you have to pay for them and you won’t have to deal with one of the big headaches of starting a business and that’s cash flow!)

Promotional USB Wristbands for a Young Enterprise Scheme

Promotional USB Wristbands for a Young Enterprise Scheme

USB2U have been supplying branded (and unbranded) USB memory sticks to Young Enterprises participants for a number of years on the following terms:

  • Free design support using their team of in-house designers. So, if you’ve got an idea but need someone to bring it to life then just chat through your requirement and their designers will weave their magic on their Apple Macs
  • Free Print Set-Up and Origination. When you order printed USB memory sticks it’s typical to get charged for the artwork to be “set-up” before the sticks are printed but for Enterprise Groups these fees are waived.
  • Free Lanyards (neck straps) – these come in a variety of different colours and are available with every order.
  • Discounted packaging and gift box options
  • 30-Day trade terms on all orders. You won’t have to pay for your branded USB memory sticks until 30 days after delivery! (to qualify the order needs to sent to your school or university)
  • Wide choice of styles and memory sizes and you can select different colours and sizes in a single order.

If you think branded USB memory sticks might be suitable for your Enterprise project then get in touch with USB2U – you can email, pick up the phone (it’s a Freephone number so you won’t have to pay for the call), fill in the on-line quote form or “chat” to the team in real time using their web based chat system!

Promotional USB Flash Drives for Young Enterprise Schemes

Promotional USB Flash Drives for Young Enterprise Schemes

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Printed and Promotional USB Sticks – A Roller Coaster Ride

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

No, this is not about the challenges of finding a reputable supplier of promotional USB memory sticks but instead it’s about the changes taking place at theme parks around the world and how USB sticks are now likely to be offered to you at the end of your rides/visit.

Visit any theme park and you’ll quickly discover that your picture is worth a small fortune (it has to be given the price you’re asked to pay for photos at the end of each ride).  Let’s face it when you visit a theme park it’s almost impossible to avoid having your photograph taken whilst you’re scared out of your wits on an extreme “thrill” ride or whilst you’re getting soaked on the log flumes and water slides

The savvy theme park operators know that these photos, as embarrassing as they are, make brilliant souvenirs and of course they’re a great reminder of a fun packed day spent with family and friends. As a parent “pester effect” at the end of each ride as you’re corralled though a gift shop and photo booth can be irritating but the photos are a great source of revenue to the theme park operators.

USB Sticks Enjoying a Day Out at a Theme Park

USB Sticks Enjoying a Day Out at a Theme Park

If you’re tempted to buy any of the photographs then there is the hassle of carrying them around with you all day (and keeping them dry and flat). Some theme parks have a facility where you can order them at the end of each ride and pick them up on your way out. Handy.

It’s been possible (from some of the theme parks) to buy a portfolio of photos at the end of your visit on a CD or DVD and recently, some of the larger and more “switched on” theme parks have introduced an option to buy the ride photographs on a printed USB memory stick. This is a great idea because it’s far easier and a lot more convenient to carry around a small USB flash drive with you as you go around the park. Then, at the end of each ride if you see a photo you like you can simply hand over your flash drive and get the images copied onto it! There’s even scope to combine an admission of “fast pass” wristband with a USB stick – a USB wristband!

The benefit of buying digital copies of the snaps is that they are easy to print off on your own colour printer and just as easy to upload to Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. Of course you can do this with your smart phone but it’s a bit tricky taking a “selfie” as rocket around a thrill ride and you’re pulling several “G’s” in a tight turn!

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Data Loading on USB Flash Drives – An Evil Necessity

Friday, January 17th, 2014

One of the primary reasons that so many companies are using promotional USB flash drives is because they are looking for a simple, easy and convenient way to distribute lots of information to their customers (or prospective customers). Whether it’s information on new products, pricing, seminar or conference notes, video presentations or any mix of these then USB drives that are pre-loaded with the data are a great solution.

CD’s and DVD’s used to be the preferred option but so few laptops and desktop PC’s now ship with a CD/DVD player that it’s a risk relying on people being able to use these. Arguably with the shift toward tablets (most of which don’t have USB ports) the same issues apply to USB sticks but most people still have a PC or laptop at home or work and all of these will have a USB port.

The other benefit of handing out a USB drives with your data pre-loaded onto them is that flash drives have a high perceived value (much higher than a CD or DVD) and as such people like being given them and that in turns help them to build a bond with any brand printed onto the drive. If you hand out flash drives with spare capacity on (and this is typically always the case) then you’re giving something away that has on-going use after your data has been read. This in turn means your flash drives (with your brand printed on them) will get repeat usage and your brand will get repeat exposure.

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

The real headache is how you get the data onto the USB flash drives before you hand them out! Often files, video and presentation notes are not ready to load until right at the very last minute and if this means you have to load the data yourself then in could take hours and in some cases days! Transferring 1GB of data from your PC could take 10+ minutes per drive – multiply this by say 500 and you can see the challenge!

By far the best way is to get your promotional USB flash drive supplier to data-load them for you. Typically they will have industrial data loading machines that will bulk transfer the files to multiple drives (each machine usually has a “master slot” and can copy the data to up to 20 USB drives in the same time that you could copy one!).

Most suppliers offer this service free of charge for up to 200MB of data but the charges for larger data loads are only pennies – it’ll be the best money you ever spend. No one in their right minds would voluntarily opt to data load their own USB sticks one at a time on their PC.

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