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Will Your Be Buying Custom USB Memory Sticks in 2015

Posted by USB2U on 3rd February 2015 | Permalink

China might be about to enter the year of the Sheep but the USB memory stick market is, we believe, about to enter the year of the Custom model. We’ve seen a few false dawns over the last couple of years but finally this year all of the stars seem to be in alignment and it finally looks as though the year of the Custom USB has come.

If anything the UK is playing catch up with the rest of the world because in some markets fully customised models make up nearly 50% of the promotional market. In the UK, we’re significantly behind this at around 5% – 10%.

Why the difference? Well, first of all we need to be clear that when we say “custom” that we mean a fully bespoke 2-D or 3-D versions that are designed and manufactured to a customer’s specification. They are not standard models that are customised with a logo or design. An example would be a flash drive in the shape of a truck or a power drill or a word. They are “one-offs” and the customer who has commissioned them will not only take delivery of the finished product but they’ll own the rights to the design – no one else will have a USB stick the same as theirs, it will be unique and it will be in a shape/design then have actively been involved in the development of.

Custom USB Memory Sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

We think the UK is lagging behind other developed markets in this sector is because of ignorance, high perceived costs and an expectation that leads times are going to be horrendous. Clearly the task of “educating” the market about the availability and benefits of ordering fully customised USB flash drives falls to suppliers like us and we’re ready to take on this challenge.

The benefits are well proven – they generate more buzz, they get people talking about the brand/product that they’re representing, they are more likely to be kept and used (over and over again) and photographs of them are far more likely to find their way onto Social Media sites which in turn will drive “chatter” about the brand/product. They are a great promotional product.

What does surprise most customers that ask about them is just how inexpensive they are and how quickly they can be designed, manufactured and delivered. Yes, you will pay more for them but typically its only about 10% – 20% more than a simple printed stick and the lead times at around 3-4 weeks are not unreasonable. You just need to think a little bit further ahead and plan (perhaps that’s our collective problem!).

To be clear there are no tooling and set-up costs, there are no artwork and design fees and you will “own” the rights to the finished product and you’ll get all of this (and the marketing benefits) for a small premium on the unit price. 2015 will be the year of the Custom USB memory stick.

Custom USB Memory Sticks - Shapes

Custom USB Memory Sticks – Shapes

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Looking Back at 2014 and Forward to 2015

Posted by USB2U on 1st January 2015 | Permalink

What a year 2014 was for us at USB2U. In the last 12 months we have seen record sales of promotional USB sticks, enquiries from new customers have never been higher and the feedback from customers on Trustpilot has exceeded all expectations.

We’ve gained new resellers across Europe and the number of orders we now ship around the world has grown markedly and shows not signs of abating. All we can say is “Wow!” and a big “Thank you” to everyone who has entrusted us with their project, their business and their brand this year. We really do appreciate your order(s) and your faith in our ability to deliver your promotional USB sticks against what often look lime impossible deadlines.

Much of our recent growth has been underpinned by continued investment in new products, a top quality team of people and our own in-house printing and engraving kit. A significant number of our USB memory stick orders are now delivered within 72hrs from order! So whilst many of our competitors talk in of delivery timescales measures in days of weeks we’re, for a growing proportion of our business, are talking in terms of hours.

Customers clearly like the comfort of knowing that with USB2U they can place an order one day and their printed, data-loaded and boxed promotional USB memory sticks can be with them the very next day! It’s a service that de-risks everything because it uses stock we carry in the UK, it uses our own in-house design, print and data-loading capability – nothing is reliant on being “shipped in from factories in China” or on the use of 3rd party printers. It’s a service offering we will continue to expand in 2015.

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

We’ve also been bowled over by the support we’ve had from Professional Photographers over the last 12 months. When we exhibited at The Professional Photography Show at the NEC in March we knew immediately that it was going to be bonkers. Every day for the 4 days we were at the show people were queuing 4 deep to talk to us. It was crazy, exhilarating and exhausting. Keeping up with the demand from Photographers after the show has, at times, been challenging but again this was primarily down to an embarrassment of orders!

As we enter 2015 we’re absolutely determined to move thing up a notch or two so expect some exciting announcement from us during the 1st quarter of this year. We have already committed to exhibit again at The Photography Show at the NEC in March (but this time we’ll have a bigger stand, more staff, lots of exciting new products and we’ll have a better idea of what to expect!).

We’ve also just launched a new range of Power Banks thousands of which we hold in stock in the UK so they can also be delivered (printed or engraved) within 24hrs! Power Banks are just the start though so again keep an eye out for lots of new exciting products throughout 2015.

2014 was a cracker – bring on 2015

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Promotional USB Stick Market – Trends of 2014

Posted by USB2U on 30th December 2014 | Permalink

As 2014 draws to a close it’s a good time to look back and review how the market for promotional USB sticks played out over the course of the year. The most fundamental observation anyone looking at the market during the last year is that little has changed.

Promotional USB memory sticks are just as popular now as they were at the end of 2013. If anything their popularity has continued to grow over the last 12 months with increased sales fuelled by falling prices and the ready availability of USB sticks with higher levels of storage – typical promotional USB sticks now have a storage capacity of 4GB and upwards but 12 months ago this would have been 1GB to 2GB.

The falling price has arguably helped drive the USB sticks into new markets. Smaller memory capacity versions (think 128MB) can today be purchased for around £1.50 each. This is the price for a fully branded and data-loaded stick (subject to volume) and it really does put them into a price bracket where hundreds can be bought and just handed out as a speculative promotional tool. Whilst 128MB might sound a small amount of storage it was only a couple of years ago when it was the de facto storage offering!

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

So, in the corporate market there are now two distinct markets developing: i) companies who want to use USB sticks as a “cheap and cheerful” giveaways (often still packed with lots of pre-loaded data files and ii) companies that want to use USB flash drives with a larger memory as part of a more sophisticated sales and marketing campaign.

In parallel with the development of these two distinct market sectors a third market has blossomed over the last year and that’s the market for top quality USB sticks and gift boxes for professional photographers.

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Today no self-respecting wedding or professional photographer would still use CD’s or DVD’s to hand out their client portfolios out on! The range of high quality flash drive packages aimed specifically at the professional photographer (which include some stunning gift boxes) has increased dramatically over the last year. This coupled with a fall in the popularity use of CD’s and DVD’s has seen a surge in sales to photographers.

In response USB sticks suppliers have had to up their game with some now investing heavily in the sector, hiring dedicated accounts managers that understand the photography market an launching bundles and packages aimed specifically at the unique needs of the professional photographer. USB2U is one such supplier – see them again at the 2015 Professional Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC.

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Where Can You Get Printed or Engraved Flash Drives Delivered in 24hrs

Posted by USB2U on 19th November 2014 | Permalink

Pfft – we spit in the eye of delivery promises of 6 days. If you need your flash drives printed, data-loaded and delivered quickly then quickly is what we do! We don’t mess around talking days we prefer to talk in terms of hours. So, if you find yourself (for whatever reason) of needing some last minute promotional drives then firstly don’t panic and secondly pick up the phone and call us (or submit a quick quote enquiry via our web site and we’ll get back to you in 15 mins or less).

We’re based in Northampton in the UK. We hold tens of thousands of different USB sticks in stock in a wide range of styles and memory capacities and we print or engrave IN-HOUSE. No outsourcing to a local printer, no restricting you to one type of product and limited memory size options – we always have stock and we control the process from start to finish using our own team and as a consequence we can (and frequently do) take orders in the afternoon for delivery the next day across the UK, Europe and the USA. Don’t believe us then check out the reviews from thousands of happy customers on Trustpilot (many of whom will make reference to how blown away they were with the speed at which we delivered their order). Here are just a few examples from the last few days:

Beyond the ordinary!

We needed some premium usb sticks in presentation boxes for an event. The production team were even able to make up x100 usb sticks and boxes within 5 hours! To meet our tight deadline – which is beyond what is advertised on their website. I am very grateful and they look superb.

Great service and very speedy turnaround

Very impressed with the service from USB2U. Within 24 hours we had our USBs – they look great, the process was very easy, and everyone we dealt with was extremely happy. We’ll definitely buy from them again.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy !

The ordering process was very simple and the attention to detail excellent. It was an urgent requirement and the sticks arrived promptly.

So, if you have been challenged to find someone who you can trust to deliver a last minute requirement for USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them and with your data files pre-loaded onto them then please do get in touch. It doesn’t matter if your based in the UK, the USA or Timbuktu providing UPS deliver there on a next day service and providing you get in touch reasonably early in the day (ideally before 2pm) then we can normally help.

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

USB2U – Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

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New Home Sales Supported By USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 17th November 2014 | Permalink

Over the last couple of years it’s been interesting to see how many estate agents and builders have started using USB flash drives as a way of marketing their houses and new developments.

We’re not suggesting for a minute that this is part of a trend that will see all marketing of home move to flash drives in preference to traditional paper brochures, the web and the local newspaper but, they clearly do have a place in the mix of marketing options available. After all, we have to assume that where they have been used that they’ve been successful because in many cases the same agents and developers come back time and time again to place repeat orders.

Large national builders with lots of housing stock to move are using USB flash drives with their logo printed on as a “hand-out” or “give-away” in their shows homes or at prime sites where there is a good footfall of people that match the demographic of their target customer – think major housing developer with promotional staff handing out flash drives in the hundreds at the exit of Dockland light railway stations (which just happen to be adjacent to a development they are marketing!).

USB Sticks for Property Developers

USB Sticks for Property Developers

By pre-loading the flash drives with lots of interactive media including individual property details, prices, floor plans, video clips, links to their website and social media pages together with lot of information of the local area (amenities and schools etc.) the developers are able to impart lots of information quickly and relatively cheaply and they do so in a way that is easy to receive.

The real beauty of putting all of this on a flash drive rather than just printing it (apart from the obvious weight, costs and environmental benefits) is that people find it incredibly hard to throw them away – brochures that are handed out have a nasty habit of being stuffed in the next bin but flash drives, particularly those that have a reasonable amount of storage space on them are typically kept and used!

So rather than being an expensive marketing gimmick developers and agents have quickly learnt that used correctly and with the right amount of information pre-loaded onto them, that promotional USB sticks can be a strong addition to any sales and marketing program.

Arguably the same is true when selling any high value product but the housing market, and specifically the sector involved in the sale of new developments to your city types is one that has tapped into the opportunity with some gusto.

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Wooden USB Flash Drives should you Engrave or Print them

Posted by USB2U on 21st June 2013 | Permalink

Some of our most popular USB flash drives at the moment are our wooden versions. It’s not just professional and wedding photographers that are buying them either (although they do buy a significant number) but a growing number of large corporate companies that like the “eco-credentials” of the wooden and bamboo USB sticks we sell.

We have eight different wooden and bamboo styles to choose from and they typically come in dark and light wood options and of course they come in a wide range of memory sizes typically starting at 128MB and going all the way up to 32GB. The most popular models are our Woodland USB Flash Drive and our Wooden Twister USB Drive.

Wooden-USB-Twister-Printed

Wooden-USB-Twister-Printed

The Woodland version is rectangular, incredibly tactile and the cap is held in place with two small discrete magnets that are carefully recessed into the cap. The Twister version has no cap to lose, it’s a little smaller than the Woodland but it has equally strong eco-credentials and style.

The biggest decision facing anyone buy any of our wooden USB models is whether to get their logo printed onto the USB stick or engraved onto the USB stick – both options (as the images here illustrate) produce excellent results but they have their own benefits:

Woodland Engraved USB Sticks

Woodland Engraved USB Sticks

Engraving onto a wooden product somehow just seems the right thing to do, it seems more sympathetic to the core product and because no ink is being applied to the product it maintains the integrity of any “eco” message that you want to push.  You also get a very tactile finish and robust finish that isn’t going to chip or fade.

The compromise though is that no colours are involved when they are laser engraved – the image is created by cutting away at the surface of the wood and because of this you will get some variation across the USB sticks – this is simply because you’re dealing with a natural material with different grain effects and slight variations in colour. Arguably this adds to the appeal albeit some “brand managers” are put off by the absolute lack of control you get with engraving on wood.

If you want the benefits of a wooden promotional USB stick but you need your logo reproduced in full colour then you’ll need to opt for the printed option – the results can look striking and they’ll keep the brand police happy. The only compromise is that the print will eventually chip off unlike an engraved logo which is there to stay!

Whichever option you choose we can typically supply these from UK stock in as little as 24hrs! Call us for latest availability and prices.

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USB People Memory Sticks – Full Body Customisation

Posted by USB2U on 13th June 2013 | Permalink

Have you ever wondered what you might look like as a USB Memory Stick – we’re guessing you haven’t but these new “mini you” people shaped USB flash drives give you a cost effective option to do just that. So instead of thinking about promotional USB sticks with your name or company logo printed on why don’t you go the whole hog and get USB sticks that truly represent you or your company’s staff.

These “mini you” USB people are just 5cm tall and they can be printed to represent body style or shape, we can print any uniform or dress code onto them and we can supply them with a standard cartoon face or we can customise every drive with a photograph – order them for the team in your company and get the teams photos on them! Not only will they create a great talking point but it’s going to be pretty easy to work out who they belong to!

USB People - both options shown

USB People - both options shown

f you run a business based where your staff are in daily contact with your customers then a USB person is a great option; think KwikFit fitters, UPS delivery drivers, dental assistants, mechanics and so on – any uniform (even down to the logo’s and decals on the uniform) can be reproduced. The “mini you” USB sticks are available from 1GB to 16GB and the lead time is around 14 days from order.

You can either choose any of the “standard” uniforms and characters or we can create a fully customised version for you – just send us a picture of the look/uniform you’re after together with artwork for any logos you want to appear on the uniform and we’ll do the rest. Of course if you want pictures of your actual staff on the heads then don’t forget to send these to us as well!

USB People in Overalls - Both Options Show

USB People in Overalls - Both Options Show

The minimum order quantity is only 50 pieces which makes them an interesting option not just for businesses but sports clubs, schools, weddings and re-unions! 30 different ones of these printed up for a class reunion (and pre-loaded with lots of digital memorabilia) would make a brilliant “class photo”.

If you wanted to have a bit of fun at shareholder meetings you could even get the USB “mini you” sticks printed up to represent the executive board and hand them out at the shareholder meetings (pre-loaded with the annual reports and press packs etc.) At the other end of the scale they could be used to use them for children’s birthday parties as a fund sticking filler!

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These New Metal USB Memory Sticks Are Beauts

Posted by USB2U on 18th April 2013 | Permalink

There are literally hundreds of different styles and types of USB memory stick to choose from which can create a bit of a problem if you’ve been tasked with buying some for your company, school or university – where do you start?  How do you narrow down the choice and what makes a good USB memory stick or are they all as good as each other?

There are some basic considerations for the novice buyer and these are:

  1. If you are planning on printing or engraving a logo or design onto the USB sticks then they need to offer a reasonably large, flat print area to work with – too small and any narrative printed on them will be hard to read (web addresses become a non-starter) but too large and they become a bit unwieldy, people are reluctant to carry and use them which sort of defeats the object of giving them away in the first place.
  2. With or without caps? – for many this is a key consideration and they simply won’t buy (and give away) promotional USB sticks if they have a removable cap that can be subsequently lost. Perhaps not surprisingly therefore the most popular USB sticks have consistently been those without a cap or lid e.g. the Twister, the USB credit card and the Retractor.
  3. Metal, Plastic, Leather or Wood? – which material your USB stick is made from is often down to personal choice but if you want a printed finish then plastic will give you the best results. Metal, leather and wooden USB stick tend to look (and feel) better engraved. Arguably (albeit again it is down to personal perceptions) metal, leather and wood options look a little classier and are certainly more tactile than the plastic options. Surprisingly there is often little cost difference between the four options.
  4. Printed or engraved – Printing obviously allows for any logo or image to be reproduced in full with all the colours that the “brand police” demand but engraving (particularly laser engraving) can produce stunning results that last. No matter how good the print looks on a USB memory stick when it is made the print will inevitably chip, scuff and fade in use whereas a laser engraved image is permanent. Think tattooing for USB sticks!

Two new metal USB sticks that are available from USB2U are the Carbon and the Engraved Slider – one is “capless”, both are available in a range of different colours and both are available from UK stock for delivery (engraved not printed) in as little as 24hrs. They look and feel stunning and should definitely be on any short list of USB sticks you draw up – ask for a sample to get a better feel for the quality of the sticks.

Metal USB Memory Sticks

Metal USB Memory Sticks

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Printed Small Tin Gift Boxes for USB Memory Sticks – Wow!

Posted by USB2U on 15th March 2013 | Permalink

People often say that the best things come in little packages and our latest small tin gift boxes are no exception to this rule. It can be a challenge trying to find a decent looking gift box to hand out your promotional USB memory sticks in – some are simply too big and bulky, others too flimsy and cheap looking and some are simply too expensive for what after all is often a freebie giveaway.

These new small tin boxes with a see through window in the lid score on all levels – they look great, they feel like an expensive high quality gift box, they can be printed with a logo (although with the see through window this is not always necessary), they’re compact and they come with a custom foam inlay to hold the USB stick in place. Despite this they’re relatively inexpensive.

Small Gift Tins for USB Memory Sticks

Small Gift Tins for USB Memory Sticks

What’s more these small tin gift boxes are a stock item with tens of thousands available so next day delivery (even printed) is rarely an issue.

When they are printed (and they can be printed top and bottom) they really come to life. Even though we are printing directly onto the tin the print process does not dull the colours as the examples here show.

Printed and engraved USB memory sticks have long been one of the most popular promotional products and have all but replaced CD’s and DVD’s as the preferred option when companies (and schools and universities) want to distribute lots of information. Part of the reasoning for buying and then “giving away” USB sticks in volume is that people will remember the company/brand associated with the USB stick, they’ll hopefully use them on an on-going basis which in turn will lead to increased brand exposure and awareness and ultimately they’ll buy into the product/service of the company giving the USB sticks away.

Tin boxes for USB Sticks

Tin boxes for USB Sticks

This being the case it’s important to make as big an impact as possible with the USB sticks when they are handed out – make the branding on them strong, bright and clear. Get noticed and make an impact because this will help with brand recall. Putting your USB sticks in a gift box or gift tin will help raise their perceived value and again just helps lift the bar in terms of impact.

As well as these small window tin boxes we also carry small tin boxes without a “window” and options with a “hinged lid”

 

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Why we recommend Professional Photographers buy High Performance USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 30th August 2012 | Permalink

One of the big trends in the professional photography sector is the move to supply customer portfolios on USB memory sticks. Typically the memory sticks are printed or engraved with the photographers’ logo/brand although occasionally the sticks are personalised with their clients’ details.

A good example of this is where the sticks are personalised with details of a wedding and then photos, video clips, details of the service and the speeches are then pre-loaded onto the sticks before being sent to the wedding guests as a memento of the day.

Whilst some professional photographers still prefer to use CD’s and DVD’s the move to use USB memory sticks has been hastened by the recent drop in the price of customised USB sticks, the availability of higher storage capacity sticks and the relative ease of finding local suppliers of customised sticks. Coupled with this CD’s and DVD’s are falling out of fashion, many of the latest laptops and ultra-thin notebooks are sold without a CD/DVD reader and frankly, no matter how well you print a CD they don’t really enhance the overall value of the brand printed on them.

Custom USB flash drives on the other hand can help photographers differentiate their service, improve their image, enhance their professionalism and provide a new revenue stream.  However for this statement to be true it is important that photographers ensure they buy USB sticks that are fit for purpose – externally (apart from the aesthetics of the different casing options; leather, wood, metal, plastic etc.) all USB sticks are pretty much the same. They have a standard USB connector on one end and the internal flash memory and controller is housed inside a case and it’s the case that is printed or engraved.

The real challenge when buying custom USB sticks is to make sure that the components that are inside the case (the flash memory and the controller chip and the capacitor) are good enough to support the use that photographers will put them to. If they are not up to the job then it can take hours to load images onto them (because the read/write speeds they support will be slow) and images loaded onto them can “fragment” – see the example shown here:

Fragmented Image

What can happen without high-spec chips!

Bear in mind that most companies selling custom or printed USB flash drives are providing them to the promotional sector where “cheap” is the fundamental requirement. Typically promotional drives are bought in the thousands with an expectation that they’ll be thrown away or rarely used once given out – let’s face it a corporate sales brochure that are stored on a USB drive are  not as important as Wedding photos. Whilst the drives are still Grade A the internal components are right at the bottom end of the performance spec – If you think of it in camera terms these are like Grade A disposable cameras that you can buy for a couple of pound when what might be needed is a decent Digital SLR Nikon or Canon.

Of course if USB sticks are only going to be used to market your services then standard promotional grade versions might be fine but, if you’re entrusting them to carry important portfolios from events that can never be repeated and have a huge emotional significance then it’s worth making sure that you buy better quality sticks.

Our advice is to ask question not only about the Grade of the flash but the manufacturer of the flash memory (ideally chose a Samsung or Hynix memory and not an OEM look alike). Ask if better quality controller chips can be supplied as well and finally get details on the read/write speeds of the drives and any warranty that comes with the drives. Do remember though that warranties only get you replacement drives they won’t help deal with unhappy customers whose images are corrupted.

Finally choose a supplier with a proven track record, get views from other photographers than have bought from them, check out their Twitter feeds to see what other photographers are saying about them, check 3rd party review sites – 10 minutes homework before you buy could save hours or days of grief if you end up with the wrong product from a supplier that does not care once they have your order.

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