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Cheap and Fast USB Sticks – A Mutually Exclusive Statement

Posted by USB2U on 26th April 2013 | Permalink

If you’re looking to buy high performance USB memory sticks with fast read/write speeds then you’re best not to buy them from a company supplying promotional USB sticks.

The reason is simple – the vast majority of promotional USB sticks that are purchased are typically given away as part of a sales and marketing initiative of some description. As a “giveaway” the primary requirement is not speed and performance but value for money coupled with a product that looks good and can show off the brand that is printed on it.

Performance and speed comes at a premium and in the highly competitive promotional USB market most prices that are banded around will be for “standard promotional grade” USB sticks. What this means is that if you’re lucky you’ll get a Grade A (new and non-recycled) product that has read/write speeds of around 3MB -6MB per second. If you’re unlucky you could easily end up with sticks that look good on the outside but contain Grade B (re-cycled) components – these will be slow, they may be masked (the memory size is faked) and they are likely to have a short lifespan (the number of read/write cycles they’ll support will be small).

Forget any ideas of getting the sort of performance you’d normally associate with good quality high performance branded USB sticks you’d pick up in the high street – whatever anyone says unless you specify high performance chips and you’re willing to pay a premium (albeit often a small premium) then the USB sticks you’ll get from most companies selling “promotional” USB sticks will perform commensurate with this definition.

To be fair a decent promotional USB stick from a reputable supplier will be fine for most everyday needs. Problems only really occur when whoever buys then or uses them wants to transfer lots of large files onto them or wants to run large high quality video files from them – large files or multi-tiered data with complex file structures will challenge a promotional USB, often to the point of breaking – it won’t physically break but the data loaded onto it will either fail or corrupt.

For certain industries, professional photographers for example, speed, performance and a reasonable lifespan (backed by a decent warranty) are an absolute must. If these are attributes you want from your printed USB sticks then be very clear to tell your supplier what you plan to use them for and follow their advice. When and if they recommend you spend a little more money to buy an upgraded product remember that they are not doing it to squeeze a few extra pennies out of you they are doing it because they want the product they supply to work and for you to be happy and come back and buy again!

At USB2U we always recommend that professional photographers and videographers buy upgraded, high-performance USB sticks.

USB2U - A Trusted Supplier of Promotional USB Memory Sticks

USB2U - A Trusted Supplier of Promotional USB Memory Sticks

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Engraved USB Flash Drives – The Smarter Choice

Posted by USB2U on 19th April 2012 | Permalink

If the USB flash drives you are going to hand out are going to carry your logo and you want this logo to last then printing your logo onto the flash drive is not always the best or only option. Let’s face it most people that are given a USB flash drive (certainly the type that can attached to a key ring) will typically attach it to a bunch of keys, attach it to their bag or simply leave it rattling around in their purse or pocket with their loose change.

Engraved USB Flash Drives

Engraved USB Flash Drives

If they do any of these things with your carefully printed USB flash drives then pretty soon any printed logo on the USB stick is going to take some severe punishment and is ultimately going to succumb and start to rub/scratch off. It doesn’t matter how good the initial print job was, what time of print primer was used, whether the print is “protected” with a spot varnish of lacquer because once the surface tension of the ink is broken it will start to chip or flake away. Fact.

An alternative to printing is engraving – this is where your logo is etched (typically by a laser cutter or engraver) into the shell of the USB drive. Once the shell has been physically marked with a laser it’s done for good and it doesn’t matter what sort of punishment the sticks are exposed to after they have been engraved because the engraved logo will still be there.

Whilst you can’t engrave in colour, engraved products do look incredibly professional and ooze quality but more importantly the logo (or name/serial number) that is engraved is there for good. If you’re paying for products like USB sticks to be customised with your logo then as well as how they look the durability of the logo you print onto them has to be a key factor.

Engraving is an option on a wide range of USB memory sticks including wood (bamboo), some plastics, leather and lots of different metal and anodised metal variants. Anodised Twister USB flash drives (these are the types without a cap) are particularly popular because they come in a wide range of different colours and the engraving looks more like a fine print rather than “classic” engraving.

engraved wood USB flash drives

engraved wood USB flash drives

So, next time you are considering buying some branded USB Flash Drives don’t just automatically think about getting them printed but instead look at the options like engraving and consider if this might be a better choice for your brand, your needs and ultimately your customers (the people you are giving them to). Engraved USB flash drives are no more expensive than their printed counterparts and they take no longer to produce and supply. Some suppliers like USB2U (who hold lots of USB sticks in stock) can turn around engraved USB drives in as little as 24hrs!

If you’re not sure which option is best for you then ask for samples – these are typically free and seeing engraved Vs printed in the flesh should help you make the right choice.

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Not Got the Promotional USB Flash Drives You Ordered?

Posted by USB2U on 21st March 2012 | Permalink

The very nature of promotional USB flash drives means that they are typically ordered by companies for a specific trade or retail show, a seminar or a marketing campaign.

The flash drives tend to be one component in an overall package of items that are brought together to support the activity and whilst they might not be that expensive (certainly in the context of trade shows where stands, banners etc. can run into thousands of pounds) they are nevertheless often critical to the overall event.

So, if you’ve ordered 500 promotional USB flash drives for a time critical event and they don’t turn up, or only some of them turn up, or worse still they turn up but they are wrong or don’t work then who’s to blame and what recourse do you have?

The answer to this question is, as you might suspect, not straightforward because it depends on a number of factors the two principal ones tend to be what Terms and Conditions you agreed to be bound by when you placed the order and where/who you bought the promotional USB flash drives from.

Terms & Conditions of Supply:

What Terms & Conditions have you agreed to (knowingly or not knowingly) have a significant bearing on any recourse you might have against not-delivery or problems upon delivery.  Before you commit to any order for promotional products (including USB flash drives) read the small print. Everyone has a habit of just casually ticking the box that say you agree to be bound by the T & C’s of supply without actually reading what you’re committing yourself to but if you do this don’t be surprised if you options when things go wrong are pretty limited!

Some common examples of things that most T & C’s bind you to are:

  1. Accepting a shortfall of up to 5% on your order – not great if you actually need all of the USB sticks you’re ordered for an invited guest list!
  2. Accepting an over supply of up to 5% and expecting you to pay for the additional USB sticks you’re been supplied.
  3. Accepting a delivery date that is really just an estimate with no guarantee behind it.
  4. Force Majeure – this is a standard clause that most suppliers will include and it removes any liability from them for their failure to deliver on time. It relates to things that are outside of their control, e.g. strikes, industrial action, riots and severe weather events. This is a reasonable clause because as it suggests it deals with issues the supplier has no control over but you do need to think about the implications of it if you know the goods you are buying are being shipped from overseas (there are simply more things that can go wrong in such circumstances).

Getting your supplier to take responsibility:

If you’ve purchased your promotional USB Flash Drive from a local company, governed by local legislation and things go wrong then you’re in with a fighting chance of getting a resolution. This is particularly true for the more established and high profile suppliers who have a reputation to protect – seek out those that encourage customer feedback and response to their service(s) on the growing number of 3rd party review websites. These can provide a good barometer of the level of service and support you are likely to get.

If you’ve chosen to buy from China because you wanted to cut out the “middle man” then don’t be surprised if you can’t get hold of anyone when things go wrong. Whilst there are some genuine suppliers out there, there are also lots of horror stories of customers sending money to suppliers in China only for nothing to arrive or for USB sticks to arrive that look great but don’t work!

Recommendations:

If you need you USB sticks in a hurry then ideally buy them locally. If you need them for an event with firm, immovable date then factor in plenty of time to deal with any delays or issues. Only deal with reputable, trusted and known suppliers who have clear unambiguous Terms & Conditions of supply that you have read.

Only deal with suppliers from China if you can get authenticated certificates to cover your RoHS liabilities (worth reading up on this Restriction of Hazardous Substances Legislation) and ideally only if you can pay the supplier once your USB sticks have been received and you are happy with them.

If you do all of the above then hopefully you’re reduce your chances of things going wrong or at the very least be dealing with a local supplier that will work with you to resolve any issues in a timely and professional manner.

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Drive Your Sales With Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 19th March 2012 | Permalink

If you’re sales have gotten off to a bit of a sluggish start this year then it might be worth thinking about how promotional USB Flash Drives could help inject a bit of “oomph” into them.

Whilst they are not a panacea for all sales challenges, used correctly, they can certainly help reinvigorate your sales force and add a much needed new impetus to your sales enquiries which will hopefully lead to an increase in sales.

Promotional Flash Drives (that’s USB sticks printed or engraved with your company logo and typically pre-loaded with sales material) are a great tool for your sales team because they provide the sales team with a reason to call on customers, they give them a “door opener” and they generate good will and product and brand recall.

Despite the fact that lots of people will already have one or more USB flash drives they can’t seem to get enough of these handy little gadgets and it’s widely accepted that meetings are easier to set up with the promise of one being handed over (of course it helps if its got a decent amount of memory like a 4GB or 8GB).

As well as being given to your sale team to hand out during face to face meetings they’re also good for driving traffic to your web site and sales enquiries to any in-house sales team you might have. Just put out a couple of adverts or make a few changes to your pay per click adverts highlighting that you’re giving away an 8GB USB flash drive to every legitimate sales lead and you can expect to see a lift in your enquiries.

You can drive sales equally as well by sending out promotional USB flash drives as part of a direct mail campaign (ideally choose a model that is slim enough to slot into a standard envelope and can be sent using standard post). Just include the promotional USB stick and refer to the data-loaded on the sticks in the covering letter or flyer – get creative and run competitions based on the content pre-loaded on the USB sticks – this way you can be sure that the content will be read and prospect will absorb (hopefully) your proposition and be more inclined to contact you.

None of this is rocket science it’s just about using products like USB flash drives as part of a sales and marketing mix – at the moment people like being given flash drives, they respond well to campaign and offers that use flash drives and with prices dropping it’s certainly worth spending a couple of hundred pounds to test their ability to improve your sales.

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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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Thunderbolt Flash Drives – Myth or Reality

Posted by USB2U on 11th August 2011 | Permalink

Back in February Intel announced a new High Speed technology called Thunderbolt™. Thunderbolt supports data transfer speeds of up to 10GB per second, which means you could transfer a full-length HD movie between two devices running Thunderbolt in around 30 seconds!

Although Intel announced its Thunderbolt was a joint development with Apple so its no surprise that most of the new products launched by Apple since the announcement have included Thunderbolt. (new iMac, new Macbook Air, new Macbook Pro).

Considering that USB 3.0 is only just beginning to reach the market the announcement of Thunderbolt took many by surprise and raised doubts over what will emerge as the dominant standard for peripherals and data transfer – the thought of another VHS Vs Betamax tussle is not something the industry needs just now.

Thunderbolt Flash Drives

Thunderbolt Flash Drives

Whilst USB 3.0 products are backwards compatible with USB 2.0, Thunderbolt is completely different; different cables, different connectors and completely different protocol, so USB products, including USB flash drives will not work with Thunderbolt.

Here are a few basic facts to consider about Thunderbolt:

  • Thunderbolt I/O technology gives you two channels on the same connector with 10 Gbps of throughput in both directions.
  • Thunderbolt transfers data up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0, up to 12 times faster than with FireWire 800 and twice as fast as USB 3.0
  • A range of Thunderbolt storage peripherals are already available including storage products from Lacie (Lacie’s Little Big Disk)

Talk in the market is that Intel has so far failed to build support for USB 3.0 into any of its motherboard chipsets. If this is the case just where does this leave USB 3.0 and are we on the verge of seeing portable storage drives that use Thunderbolt technology?

To confuse matters further HP (the worlds largest producer of PC’s) has announced that it is sticking with USB 3.0 because it has wider support in the market. They’re not saying “no” to Thunderbolt just yet but instead they seem to be keeping a “watching brief” on it.

With the amount of influence Apple and Intel carry in the PC and tablet market at the moment you have to assume that at some stage a Thunderbolt Flash Drive is going to appear. Exactly when and at what cost is anyone’s guess but for now most people seem content with their standard USB 2.0 flash drives.

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A Custom NHS Reform Calls for Custom USB Drives

Posted by USB2U on 15th June 2011 | Permalink

The NHS reform has recently had a lot of media coverage, but what’s it all about?  The Coalition Government announced a proposed NHS reform last summer and it consequently received a lot of criticism.  The original proposition included opening the NHS up to allow for promoted competition in the form of private companies, passing the responsibility of the budgets and purse strings over to GP’s and to roll it out quickly to be in full effect by 2013. USB2U has already provided a wide range of medical USB branded flash drives from our classic pill drive to a customised branded syringe drive for Boots.  All of these drives were pre-loaded with marketing content designed to lobby and sell to potential customers.  A branded USB packed with marketing information and sales material would be a great idea for private companies to lobby to GP’s to provide medical services for the NHS.

Substantial criticism caused by the proposition lead to an independent review.  The review suggested the following amends to the original proposition: to have managed competition as opposed to more promoting competition, nurses and hospital doctors would also be included in the control of the budgets alongside GP’s and the roll-out would be slowed down and the consortia of nurses, doctors and GP’s take control in areas of the UK where they can.  As the review has called for a more managed approach to competition in the NHS it will take additional marketing touches like a branded USB drive packed with pre-loaded marketing material to stand out and secure the business.

Yesterday David Cameron spoke about the independent review of the original proposal.  He said that although the reforms general aim of wanting better care for patients was kept, the details and how that is achieved has changed.  Surprisingly the prime minister admitted that they had made mistakes in their proposal, but they had called for the review and they were amending the proposal accordingly.

Similarly to the new aim for the NHS, ours is to meet the individual needs of our customers whatever the purpose and shape of the USB drive.

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Capless Clip Style USB Flash Drives Are Proving Popular

Posted by USB2U on 9th June 2011 | Permalink

We only added these Clip USB flash drives to our portfolio a couple of weeks ago but already they’re proving to be a real winner. For years the most popular promotional USB flash drive bar none has been the small, capless Twister model – it outsells everything else by miles and has become the de facto choice for thousands of companies and schools.

Clip USB Flash Drive

Clip USB Flash Drive

Can the Clip USB Flash drive challenge the Twisters crown – well, just like the Twister the Clip USB drive has no cap to lose, it’s small, lightweight, can be attached to a keyring or lanyard and it comes it a range of different finishes. Unlike the twister the whole drive is made from highly polished stainless steel so it has a “high-end” look to it.

The real beauty of the Clip drive is, as the name implies, that it can be “clipped” to most things easily and quickly – you

Clip USB

Clip USB

attach it just like you do a good quality pen. Ideal for attaching to your clothes, folders, portfolio files, bags and so on.

Because it’s made of stainless steel the Clip USB stick lends itself to engraving but you can also print onto it if you prefer.

Despite its small size (it’s only 38mm x 12mm) it’s available in memory sizes ranging from 128MB all the way up to a whopping 16GB!

If you’re looking for a promotional USB product that’s a little bit different but is still stylish and classy looking then you might want to add the Clip USB flash drive to your shortlist. If you’re not sure give us a call and ask for a sample so you can see for yourself just how compact and attractive the USB clip is.

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Personalised USB Sticks Make Great School Leaving Gifts

Posted by USB2U on 25th May 2011 | Permalink

Whether you’re leaving primary school to join the “big” school or leaving secondary school to start life at university it’s going to be emotional particularly if you’re leaving behind friends you’ve formed a strong bond with over the years you’ve been together.

It’s often just as tough on the teachers, particularly in smaller schools where they may have taught the same class of children for several years. The last day will often end in tears for the teachers as they dismiss their class for the last time and inevitably it will be a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows for the students as the reality of the “last day” sinks in. No matter how hard nosed you are or how much you convince yourself it doesn’t matter the last day at school will put you through the emotional mixer.

School USB Flash Drives

School USB Flash Drives

With the rise of social networking applications like Facebook and Twitter it’s now much easier than it was to keep in touch with your school friends as you move on to a new school or to start a new life outside of school but, it’s also nice to be able to celebrate your time at the school with some form of tangible gift.

Some schools and classes have latched onto the idea of personalised USB flash drives as the perfect leaving or

School USB wristbands

School USB wristbands

graduation gift. The flash drives can be printed or engraved with the school crest or name and details of the “Class of 2011” or anything that is appropriate. They can even be individually engraved with each student’s name!

The really clever bit (but it needs someone to organise it) is to gather lots of photographs and video clips (school trips, school plays, concerts etc.) of the class together with the class register, sports achievements, school awards etc. and get all of this pre-loaded onto the USB flash drives before they are given out.

As pretty much everyone has a PC these days, personalised USB flash drives crammed full with “memories” of the good times at school are a great idea. They’re not that expensive either and the lead-time to get them produced is only around 7-10 days (but allow a little more time if you want a name engraved or printed on each one).

So, if you are looking for a leaving gift with a difference then you might want to think about personalised USB flash drives.

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Beware Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 21st April 2011 | Permalink

If you’re in the market for some promotional USB flash drives then you’re likely to be shopping around and getting a few quotes from the numerous suppliers of flash drives that have sprung up over the last year or so.

Getting a few quotes for comparison purposes is exactly the right thing to do but the big challenge is how do you know when you get the prices back that you are really comparing “apples to apples”. On the face of you’d expect a 1GB USB flash drive from one supplier to be the same as a 1GB flash drive from another supplier but actually nothing could be further from the truth.

Within the promotional flash drive market the memory sticks supplied come in a wide range of grades and standards and unless you know what to ask for you could find that one supplier is quoting for USB flash drives that use top quality Grade A original flash whilst another (likely to be significantly cheaper) is quoting for USB flash drives that use Grade D cheap and cheerful “masked” or fake flash chips.

Of course when the printed and boxed USB flash drives arrive it’s incredibly difficult to tell whether the flash drives have been produced with Grade A or Grade D flash chips – they might look fantastic, the print job could be excellent and the packing might be exactly as you specified but how do you tell if you’ve been duped and supplied with inferior goods.

Ideally the time to deal with these questions is at the start of the procurement process by spelling out to the suppliers you approach exactly what you expect from your USB flash drives. If you need a high performance product that uses named original flash drive memory chips from companies like Samsung, Hynix or Micro then you need to specify this.

If you simply ask for a price for say 100 X 1GB USB flash drives then you leave it up to your supplier to interpret what standard of flash you either need or they can get away with quoting you for!

If you do end up with USB flash drives built around Grade D flash chips and cheap flash controllers then you can expect the following:

  • The flash drives are highly unlikely to have the amount of storage on them that you have purchased. In other words they will be something like a 512MB made to look like they are 1GB (masked) – when you insert them into the PC and check the “properties” of the flash drive they will appear as 1GB disks but if you try and load over 512MB onto the sticks and then take them out and re-insert them, then anything over say 500MB won’t appear.
  • The read/write speeds will be very slow which may be a problem if you are loading large amounts of data onto the drives before you hand them out to your customers.
  • The expected life (the number of read/write cycles) of the flash drives will be poor and the failure rate will be high.
  • The customer experience using them will be disappointing, they may not work, if they do work they will be slow and they won’t have the amount of space of the drive that they were expecting – not the sort of experience you want to associate with your brand.

So, when deciding whom to place your order for promotional USB flash drives with don’t just be lead price unless you do so in the full knowledge of the possible consequences. Ideally choose a company that has an establish pedigree and can point to lots of repeat business and will offer guarantees and warranties on their products that have some meaningful recourse.

Buying on price and price alone is an easy option but to do so is to ignore the complexities and risks of what should, on the face of it, be a simple and safe transaction.

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