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Important Company Wide Announcements – USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 26th January 2015 | Permalink

It’s been interesting to see a rise in the number of companies using branded USB flash drives over the last few months as part of high profile, cross company announcements to their staff. The challenge is how do you give a disparate employee base (not all of whom have access to PC’s at work) critical information at the same time and in a format they can all use. It’s not as easy as you might think!

Say for example you need to announce fundamental changes to your staff’s terms of employment, or changes to their pension scheme arrangements – how, other than trying to get everyone together for a companywide meeting do you manage it? And the company in question employs thousands of staff in different locations; working different shift patterns a “company meeting” is never going to be possible. Do you stream or broadcast the message to televisions at each location, do you send out a letter and brochure explaining the changes, or do you send out teams of senior managers to each location of run a series of co-ordinated presentations? If you do the latter how do you control the message in terms of constancy and “tone” and how do you make sure questions are fully answered with examples and illustrations?

USB Flash Drives for Businesses

USB Flash Drives for Businesses

Until recently one option was to consider using CD’s or DVD’s and sending these out as part of a pack or handing them out as part of a co-ordinated roadshow. These could include comprehensive notes, videos, copies of presentation slides/packs and tons of other supporting information. But, the problem today is that a large number of new laptops don’t ship with a CD/DVD player!

As a result what we are seeing is a move towards the use of a USB stick, typically branded with the company’s logo and normally pre-loaded with lots of multi-media content. USB sticks or flash drives (as some people prefer to call them) are arguably easier to use, they can be plugged into TV’s as well as lots of PC’s Macs and Tablets and they’re reasonably cheap. When they’ve read/used them there is of course the added benefit of being able to use the branded USB sticks for storage of their own personal data.

They can be pre-loaded with their data right at the last minute and because of their size and weight distribution is relatively easy. As such they make the ideal alternative to CD’s and DVD’s and most staff members will have something they can use to read (or watch) the content on them.

If you’ve got an important cross company message you need to get out to your staff then you might want to consider using a USB stick with your logo printed on it and your presentation material pre-loaded onto the.

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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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Chinese Public Holidays – Why it Matters When Buying USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 8th April 2013 | Permalink

The majority of Chinese workers live and work in cities, whilst many of their relatives remain in their ancestral towns / villages. With such a vast country, returning home can take many hours, if not days. This coupled with increased prosperity and disposable income has resulted in national holidays taking on greater importance.

The 4th April is the start of ‘Tomb Sweeping’ and is regarded as the most important custom in the Qingming Festival from which the name of Tomb-sweeping day is got. Cleaning the tomb and paying respect to the dead person with offerings are the two important parts of remembering the past relatives. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added to show care of the dead. The dead person’s favourite food and wine are taken to sacrifice to them, along with paper resembling money. This is all burned in the hope that the deceased are not lacking food and money.

So why would this impact on Branded USB Memory sticks? In short, the vast majority of Promotional USB Memory sticks are manufactured in the Far East, in particular China. This includes all the component manufacturers such as flash chip suppliers and the assembly / finishing factories.

On the run up to a major holiday, chip manufacturer start to slow and stop production. This in return results in a shortage of supply and increase in prices prior to and for a short period after the holiday.

The leadtime for delivery is also increased as factories and couriers will shut over the holiday period. This delay is compounded by backlogs that are built up at Chinese Customs, which can add several days to the delivery.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Firstly try to order ahead of major holidays (see list below) and if this is not possible look for a provider that holds UK stock of USB Memory Sticks, such as USB2U.

Chinese New Year has passed and the price of USB flash has rocketed. They are starting to stabilise now, but the pattern will continue, so be mindful if you are looking to order branded USB memory stick or frankly any Chinese manufactured products.

 

 

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Photographers Love Black Flip Boxes for their USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 26th June 2012 | Permalink

If you’re a professional photographer and you’re thinking of buying some USB memory sticks printed with your logo or name on then you’re in good company! Given the number of enquiries we are getting at the moment it seems like the initial trickle of photographers abandoning CD’s and DVD’s in favour of more stylish and professional looking USB sticks has become a torrent.

The rush to USB sticks has been fuelled partly by the recent dramatic fall in the price of the larger 8GB and 16GB sticks (some of these have dropped in price by 50% and more over the past few months) and partly by increased competition in the professional photography market.

Photographers Choice of USB Memory Sticks

Photographers Choice of USB Memory Sticks

If you’re a professional photographer and you want to stand out from the crowd then a good quality and well packaged printed USB memory stick can really help. Not only do they look professional but they’re a great way to promote your name/brand, they’ll inevitably get passed around giving you plenty of exposure and of course you’ll be able to generate an additional revenue stream by selling them.

Whilst USB sticks on their own look good they look even better when made available in a custom branded gift box. The most popular option with photographers at the moment is our Black Flip Box with a custom black foam insert to match the chosen design of flash drive. The box can be printed (as shown) or we can engrave (etch) the lid as well which looks stunning.

The black boxes seem to work particularly well with our range of metal and wood flash drives. The overall package of a metal or wooden flash drive in a black gift box just looks classy and expensive. Even the best packaged CD or DVD is going to look dated alongside any of these options.

USB Sticks and Boxes for Professional Photographers

USB Sticks and Boxes for Professional Photographers

We carry lots of the USB flash drives in stock (including the wooden) options and we can print or engrave these and supply them in less than 24hrs if you’re in a hurry. We also carry lots of different packaging options (black boxes, tin boxes, magnetic clasp boxes and plain white cardboard boxes) many of which we can also brand and supply with your preferred USB sticks – just call us for details.

Of course, whilst supplying your images in this way will undoubtedly lift your profile and add to the overall professionalism of the service you offer there is no substitute for experience, natural flair and your ability behind a lens. Fantastic USB sticks might help you drive more sales and generate more revenue but it’s the quality of the photographs that will keep customers coming back for more.

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The Chronology of a Rush Request for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 21st June 2012 | Permalink

If you find yourself up against a tight deadline for printed USB memory sticks then it’s worth knowing that USB2U offer a “rush” service that can often deliver them in under 24hrs. So whether you’ve been let down by another supplier, you simply “forgot” to order them or more likely your boss has decided at the last minute that printed USB sticks would be a good idea, don’t panic, there is typically always a solution.

Fortunately at USB2U we carry lots of blank stock (different models in different memory sizes) and we can print, engrave and load data in house so we have complete control of the end to end process. Because of this we can typically flex our print schedule to help customers who are in a real bind and need their flash drives the very next day.

Below is a real-life example of how we helped a rescue a London Agency who at the last minute realised they needed branded (and dataloaded) USB Sticks for a press event being run by one of their blue-chip clients the following day:

Day 1 – 3.00pm

Customer calls asking if there is any way we could print 250 x 2GB USB sticks with their clients’ logo and get them delivered to central London before noon the following day? Oh, and all 250 USB sticks also need pre-loading with a series of PDF’s PowerPoint Slides and a short video.

Day 1 – 3.10pm

The account manager checks with the design/print team to see if we can schedule the job and checks with the data loading team to see if they can “squeeze in” a last minute job. Everyone is up for it but with only 2hrs before our courier collects it’s going to be tight so to be on the safe side we agree with the customer that a same day van can be organised for the morning.

Day 1 – 3.20pm

Customer signs off the order confirmation form and emails through their artwork and data and arranges payment by credit card.

Day 1 – 3.30pm

Our designers send a mock-up back to the customer of how their printed USB sticks will look – all approved.

Day 1 – 4.00pm

All 250 USB sticks have had the customers files copied onto them and they are passed to the print team.

Day 1 – 4.45pm

The USB sticks are printed as per the mock-up

Day 1 – 4.50pm

The printed and data-loaded USB sticks are QA checked, virus checked and individually packed into small polythene bags. The order is then finally packed into a USB2U carton, a small “thank you” card and pack of Haribo sweets is include with the order.

Day 1 – 5pm

The customers boxed order for 250 printed and data loaded sticks is collected by our overnight courier just 2 hours after the initial enquiry. The customer is sent the tracking details by email (the order has been sent on a pre-noon service) and the same day van that was put on “standby” is cancelled.

Day 2 – 11am

The printed USB sticks are delivered to the Press Event venue in Central London and the day is saved! The London Agency and their client are delighted and just a little bit stunned that in just 20hrs from making a phone call they have the branded USB sticks they wanted.

Now, ideally we’d like a little more time to perform these miracles but we have proven time and time again that it is possible. Every day we print and data load USB sticks for delivery the following day, most customers call in the morning rather than at 3pm in the afternoon and these extra few hours do help but if you are really, really up against it then call us – we like a challenge and we’ll do everything we can reasonably do to help.

Rush Service USB Flash Drives

Rush Service USB Flash Drives

 

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Recent Trends In the Use Of Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 23rd May 2012 | Permalink

Everyone’s favourite little storage solution, the USB flash drive, has been with us for over 10 years and its popularity doesn’t look like faltering. Part of the reason for its continued popularity is because manufacturers continue to innovate and introduce new shapes, styles and designs and people continue to find new ways to use them.

Originally USB flash drives were primarily used as personal storage devices; replacements for floppy diskettes, CD’s and more recently DVD’s. The emphasis was on personal storage with most purchases being made by the individual for their own use. The drives were used to store and carry personal files (school and work files) and would typically be nothing more exotic that standard Microsoft office files.

Over the past few years dramatic price falls combined with significant increases in the amount of storage on a “typical” USB flash drive has seen a marked shift in the purchase and usage patterns of the USB drives. Some of the more interesting recent trends include:

Professional Photographers use USB flash drives to distribute client portfolios – the move away from 35mm film to digital image capture has given photographers the opportunity to give their clients not just printed photos but digital copies (files) of the photographs on some form of storage medium. Many photographers that originally used CD’s and DVD’s have now switched to USB flash drives. The move has been driven by a realisation that the drives look more professional, they can be sold in printed gift boxes and engraved or printed with the photographers’ logo and contact details.

Births, Marriages and Deaths celebrated on a USB flash drive – today people’s lives are charted and recorded digitally. Digital 3-D and 4-D images captured during pregnancy scans are now sold on USB sticks, births and marriages are photographed and the resulting images stored of USB flash drives and then distributed amongst family and friends. USB sticks are increasingly being used by the bride and groom as wedding favours (pre-loaded with the story of their relationship) and we’ve even seen USB sticks distributed a funerals (pre-loaded with photographs, scrapbooks, music and video clips) to help the mourners celebrate the life of the deceased.

USB Business Cards

USB Business Cards

Traditional paper business cards replaced by USB Business cards – rather than continue to hand out paper business cards some companies are now opting to hand out USB business cards. These are the same shape and size as traditional paper cards albeit they’re a little fatter at 2mm thick, but the real benefit of these cards is that they can be pre-loaded with the company’s brochures, presentations, audio files, media files, press releases etc. Not only are they a great innovation but they are a real talking point and by pre-loading them with relevant media they are really cost effective.

Printed Brochures and Catalogues distributed on a USB flash drive – Companies that have historically printed glossy brochures and then distributed them in the post are now increasingly using USB flash drives pre-loaded with electronic copies of the brochure. Not only are the drives more popular with the recipients but they are much cheaper to post.

Flash Drives take the Promotional Gift market by storm – millions of USB flash drives are given away by schools, universities and businesses every year. They are typically pre-printed with a logo, loaded up with data and then given away. The intent is to deliver information on the company, its products and service, to build brand awareness and loyalty and to give the recipient something that has a high perceived value – a printed USB flash drive ticks all of these boxes.

With printed USB flash drives now available from under £2 per unit and with speeds and memory sizes improving all the time it looks as though the future of the humble USB memory sticks is assured for a few more years yet. When the adoption of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (which delivers a X 10 increase in data transfer speeds) starts to gather pace expect further innovation to underpin continued sales and new directions of use.

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Football, Football, Football and USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 9th February 2012 | Permalink

If you’re not a follower of the “beautiful game” then you might be best to turn off your TV and radio and avoid buying a newspaper for a few days. The resignation of Fabio Capello as the England Manager combined with the timely ending of the court case against Harry Redknapp has led to a bit of a media frenzy!

With Euro 2012 looming large and with England players already coming forward and calling for Harry Redknapp to be given the England Managers job this is a story that’s going to run and run. So if you want to avoid wall to wall speculation and conjecture over the next few days or weeks you might be best to take a long vacation to a deserted island.

We have a bit of a vested interest in following what happens in the world of football because we supply printed USB memory sticks to a number of top flight clubs and the English FA.

Football USB Memory Sticks

Football USB Memory Sticks

Ironically lots of the USB sticks we supply are to help businesses raise their profile and to generate consumer interest in what they sell or do. Clearly “raising their profile” is not an issue in the world of football has to worry about!

If your business does not benefit from the level of media coverage that that football seems to attract then you might want to consider buying and distributing USB memory sticks printed with your brand or logo on. Make sure if you do that you pre-load the USB sticks with your sales material, web site details, media files (video clips etc.) and anything else that you think your customers or the press (if you are targeting them) might appreciate.

Don’t think promotional USB sticks are just for large companies or football clubs. The minimum order quantity for printed USB sticks is typically only 25 which bring them into the reach of small start-up companies and local “little league” football clubs!

There are lots of different styles and designs to choose from and they come in a range of different memory sizes (typically ranging from 1GB all the way up to 32GB). Pricing is rarely quoted on-line because it changes daily as a result of changes in currency (flash is traded in USB $’s) and daily changes in the price of the core flash components. As a broad rule of thumb expect to pay around £2-£4 per UBS drive (subject to quantity, memory size and design).

Perhaps if you’re bored with all the football talk you could start planning your own marketing or PR initiative with USB memory sticks at the heart of any plan.

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USB Flash Drives Used To Celebrate The Life of Relative Who Passed Away

Posted by USB2U on 8th February 2012 | Permalink

In the ten years we’ve been supplying printed USB flash drives we thought we’d pretty much seen or been asked for everything but a recent request took us by surprise.

In our time we’ve produced custom USB drives in the shape of floor heaters, rubbers, tampons and eggs, we’ve printed USB flash drives for football clubs, schools, companies that sell 4-D images of babies in the womb, theme parks, charities, photographic studios and lots more besides.

We’ve even done plenty of printed USB sticks for people celebrating the birth of their child, lots of engagements and milestone birthdays (40th’s 50th etc.) and we do our fair share of USB sticks for wedding photographers but, until last week we’d never been asked to supply USB sticks for a funeral!

Our customer, whose father had died, purchased the sticks to hand out to mourners attending the funeral. The sticks were printed with a photograph of his father and personal memorabilia was pre-loaded onto each stick including photographs of his father throughout his life, extracts from books and poems he enjoyed reading and music that he loved to listen to.

The general thrust of the idea was that the funeral was to be a celebration of his fathers life and he wanted to give every mourner something that gave them a real insight into the man that his father was. Lanyards were attached to each USB stick and the mourners were actively encouraged to wear them during the funeral service and then to take them home, plug them in and use the images and files loaded on the sticks to remind themselves of the man they knew and loved.

It’s a great idea, not one we’d have thought of and probably not an idea that will appeal to many but it does demonstrate the diversity of use that USB memory sticks (printed and pre-loaded) are being put to these days.

Today not only are large elements of lives shared on-line through Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter, but we also post photographs on services like Flickr, we share out thoughts on blogs and we share endless amounts of information via our smartphones.

As such it should have come as no surprise that even in death, images and information about continues to be distributed.

Consider this, we now capture and store on USB sticks images of babies whilst still in the womb, images of birthdays throughout our lives, our engagement, our weddings and now our death – the “circle of life” now stored and distributed on a USB Flash Drive.

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In the immortal words of Vernon Kay…”Our survey says…”

Posted by USB2U on 10th October 2011 | Permalink

OK, it wasn’t our survey but a recent survey undertaken by the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association), which questioned businessmen and women about their behavioural trends, and preferences for different promotional gifts came up with some interesting findings.

As well as reinforcing the benefits that spend on promotional products deliver the survey also examined how people felt after being given a promotional item. The aim was to measure how such products affected the feelings, perceptions and the propensity to buy. Just a little more than half (56%) of those questioned said they felt more positive towards the brand/company and a very strong 79% said they were more likely to do business with the company in the future.

USB Flash Drives in Boxes

USB Flash Drives in Boxes

Interestingly the majority said they preferred to receive a promotional gift with a logo printed on it.

When it came to which promotional gifts people preferred to be given the clear winner was a USB stick which took 45% of the vote followed by a pen with 39% and a mug with 36%.

Usefulness is one of the main reasons for people retaining and using promotional merchandise and the majority of people (64%) found a USB sticks useful. The beauty of this is that repeated usage and perceptions of usefulness mean any brand printed on the product will get lots of positive exposure.

Promotional products also have a long term impact with around a quarter of all respondents able to recall the name/brand of the company that gave them the “gift” 12 months later – not something most other forms of advertising can claim.

Unsurprisingly given the results from the survey undertaken by the BPMA sales of USB memory sticks are rocketing at the moment. If you are in the market for your own printed or customised USB sticks then give the team at USB2U a call – they have been supplying USB sticks for nearly 10-years and are one of the most respected and trusted suppliers around.

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What Are The Best USB Sticks If You Have a Large or Complex Logo

Posted by USB2U on 29th September 2011 | Permalink

Most USB sticks only have a print area of around 2-3cm on both sides which is fine if you have a clear, simple and strong logo to work with but, if you’ve got a large or complex logo then it’s not always easy to choose the right memory stick.

Understandably lots of companies want to include their contact phone number or web site address on the sticks as well as their logo but this creates an even greater print challenge. One option (but it’s not appropriate for some companies) is to print the logo on one side of the stick and print the contact information on the other side of the stick.

USB Credit Cards - Complex Print

USB Credit Cards - Complex Print

The other option is to “simplify” the logo or reduce the number of colours in the logo to allow it to be reproduced in the limited space available. Again, not ideal particularly if you have to comply with internal Corporate Brand Guidelines and have to deal with the “Brand Police”.

To be fair to the “brand police” printing and reproducing your brand or logo correctly is critical. There is absolutely no point spending a fortune designing and developing a brand only to compromise it simply because the product you want to reproduce it on can’t support it.

Unfortunately the reality is that many standard shaped USB sticks are pretty small and the print area on the sticks can be even smaller. Small, compact and portable USB memory sticks are popular with users but they’re not always ideal for complex logos.

USB Cards with Complex Logo

USB Cards with Complex Logo

On some small USB sticks it is possible to print full colour but by squishing your brand and any strapline onto the print area you will, in some cases, make it impossible to clearly see/read the end result.

There are several ways to deal with this challenge including using a Credit Card style USB memory stick. These are exactly same shape and size (but are 2mm thick) as a bank or credit card but they have built in flash memory and a USB connector. One of the main benefits of this product is that it fits neatly into a wallet and provides lots of flat space (front and back) to print on. You can also use the latest full colour printing process techniques on these cards to achieve a very high-resolution reproduction of any complex design.

Alternatively you if you would prefer a more “traditional” looking USB stick then you could consider the “Slider” model. This USB stick is capless, it has an integral keying loop and it’s a little larger than other memory sticks without being excessively large. But, the real beauty of this model is the very large print area onto which you can print.

If you think the USB Credit Card or Slider flash drive might solve your memory stick dilemma then give us a call (it’s free) and we’ll provide you with a personalise quote and our in-house designer will mock-up an example for you (free of charge) so you can see just how it will look.

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