For the full USB2U website please visit on a device with a larger screen.
Banner

Promotional USB Memory Sticks – Struggling to decide what to buy

Posted by USB2U on 1st July 2014 | Permalink

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

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

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Spoilt for Choice

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Spoilt for Choice

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Best Promotional Product for Trade Shows, Seminars and Conferences

Posted by USB2U on 8th May 2014 | Permalink

With the upturn in the economy and a general feeling of wellbeing slowing making its way across the county lots of companies will this year start to reignite their marketing and advertising activities. Many will be dipping their toes back into exhibiting at trade shows, lots will be organising seminars and conferences and even more will be looking to attend such events.

If your company is exhibiting or organising an event then at some point you’ll no doubt be considering whether you should invest in promotional products to support your sales team at the show/event.

Whether you measure it in terms of money, time or resources, exhibiting at a trade show is a large investment and as such it’s critical that this commitment is fully optimised. Lots of energy tends to get put into the location of the stand in the exhibition hall, the design of the stand, the lighting and who’s going to staff but often important things like giveaways and collateral for the show tend to get overlooked.

This is a mistake because whilst an on-stand promotion, a competition or a promotional product won’t make or break a show it will certainly help to maximise your investment. When you’re competing for the attention of potential customers against hundreds of other exhibitors its vital that you equip you sales team with all the tools they need and a giveaway that pulls people onto the stand and gets them talking to your sales team is key.

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Your challenge is to decide what the best promotional product for your company, your sales team and critically for your target audience. What give-away is going to deliver the greatest footfall onto your stand and what’s going to get your product and company to stand out from all the others?  If you’ve ever attended a show then you’ll know only too well that at the end of the day you leave with tired legs, heavy hearts and laden down with carrier bags full of brochures. As an exhibitor you need to “wow” the attendees and ideally secure an order on the stand. Failing that you need to get them interested enough so that when they get back to their desk they recall your company and remain open to further dialogue about your products/services.

The problem is that there are lots of inexpensive giveaways that you could consider including printed bags (which double as a “walking advert” for your brand), printed pens (which cost pennies). There are even sweets that can be printed with your brand and help get people to approach your stand.

With all of these simple ideas there is very little carry through post the event, there is no incentive to use them on an on-going basis and they don’t deliver much information about you’re company or products.

Much better to use a promotional USB flash drive with your brand or logo printed onto it and more importantly with your company brochures, pricing and promotional videos loaded onto it! Not only are promotional USB flash drives much cheaper now than they were a couple of years ago but they can be delivered (printed and data-loaded in as little as 48hrs)

More fundamentally research undertaken by the BPMA shows that of all the promotional gifs given away people prefer to be given memory sticks and they will keep them and use them after the show. This is good news for your brand because it means money spent on promotional USB sticks will lead to on-going brand exposure and of course your sales material will be there every time the flash drive is inserted into a PC!

USB2U deliver promotional USB flash drives in as little as 24hrs so if you do leave things right until the last minute don’t panic!

 

Share

USB 3.1 – The Death of USB Memory Sticks as we Know Them

Posted by USB2U on 23rd April 2014 | Permalink

The body that controls the development of the USB standards has decided that the current USB connector (the one that has been with us since the mid 1990’s) is overdue for a makeover.

The USB connector – the metal bit at the end of the cable or any USB memory stick is apparently not sleek enough, not small enough and it’s biggest problem is that it’s caused us to waste hours and hours of our life trying to work out which way around the USB connector needs to be inserted – really? We handle more USB’s in a day than the average person will handle in a lifetime and we can’t say that it’s really been that much of an issue.

But, with smart phones, tablets and new wearable devices getting thinner and thinner there is a reasonable argument that we do need a sleeker and thinner connector to support them. Of course the downside of this is that overtime we’re all likely to have to upgrade our peripherals and storage devices to support the new interface – for the foreseeable future the current USB connector (socket) is not going to be phased out we’re more likely to see a parallel running so PC’s and Laptops (and possibly smart TV’s) will come equipped ready to support both standards.

USB Type C Cable and Connector - Courtesy of Foxconn

USB Type C Cable and Connector - Courtesy of Foxconn

The new connector, christened “Type C” will hit the market later this year (probably just in time for Christmas) and you can be sure that the manufactures of adapters and connectors are poised to launch products at the same time. If this all sounds familiar then think “Apple Lightening Connector” and the challenges it created when it was introduced with the iPhone5.

Other touted benefits of the new Type C connector are:

  • The cable (or peripheral) will make an audible click when plugged in correctly.
  • It will support higher data transfer rates of up to 10 Gbps.
  • It will enable the delivery of greater power to peripherals via the USB Type C cable(s) – roughly double the amount of the current standard.
  • It’s designed to be plugged and unplugged 10,000 times.

With an estimated 6 Billion implementations of the current sized USB cables/connector don’t expect things to change too much overnight! Most people are still using USB 2.0 and haven’t made the move to USB 3.0 so we’re not expecting a stampede to USB 3.1 and the Type C connector anytime soon.

As far as promotional USB flash drives are concerned it’s likely to be business as usual for many years to come – the two core requirements when companies are looking for promotional USB flash drives is “universality” (when they give them away can people use them) and “price”. Whilst there are undoubted merits with the USB 3.1 standard and the Type C connector the issues in the short term (the next few years) are that most people they would give a new generation USB 3.1 flash drive to would not be able to use it and they’ll pay a hefty premium for a USB 3.1 product versus USB 2.0

It’s too soon to be reading the last rites to USB flash drives as we know them today but the next few years are going to prove interesting!

Share

USB Fan Enquires Coming In – Summer must be on the way

Posted by USB2U on 28th March 2014 | Permalink

From the depths of our office and warehouse we don’t need to be able to see out of the window (although that would be nice) to know that summer is on its way instead we can quite easily rely on the number of enquires coming in to USB2U for USB fans to gauge what the weather is doing (or about to do).

Maybe those making the enquiries have read the various reports in the press about Britain heading for our hottest summer yet. According to various publications weather experts are suggesting there is a 75% chance that over the next few months we’ll be bathed in Mediterranean-style temperatures! We’ve already had a couple of days this month where temperatures crept up to 20 degrees Celsius and whilst we’ve come back down to earth with a bump over the last few days expectations are that we’re in for a very long hot summer – bring it on!

USB Fans

Promotional USB Fans

Of course it’s not so great if you work in an office or study with little natural ventilation (you can’t open the windows in many offices) and you don’t have air-conditioning.  Your best bet in these circumstances is a fan and if you budget won’t run to the latest Dyson Bladeless Fans then you could go for a personal USB fan – these don’t need any batteries, they plug directly into any spare USB port on your PC (or Mac) and can be positioned to get the air flowing directly at you. The fans are 100% safe and they’re really quiet and unobtrusive.

If you’re a company looking for an “in your face” promotional gift for 2014 then you might want to get in early whilst we still have stock and order you USB fans now. We have thousands of them in stock in the UK but if you wait until the temperatures start rising then you might be disappointed as these fans have a habit of flying off the shelves every year when the mercury starts rising!

The fans can be branded with your logo (see the images below). The usual lead time from order is around 5-7 days but we can do turn them around a little quicker if you’re in a real hurry – just call us for prices and details of our rush service.

USB Fans from USB2U

USB Fans from USB2U

Share

Buying Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 20th March 2014 | Permalink

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

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

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Share

USB Memory Sticks Replace CD’s and DVD’s but is Cloud Storage the Next Shift

Posted by USB2U on 26th November 2013 | Permalink

Over the last 10 years USB memory sticks have evolved from being an early adopter, niche product, to the default way in which many of us now back up and carry our data around with us. CD’s and DVD’s are now all but dead with USB sticks being the default option albeit “cloud based” back-up solutions are starting to challenge the need for any form of physical medium.

The move from CD’s to DVD’s to USB memory sticks is a paradigm shift not unlike the move from film based photography to digital photography but how long will it be before the dominance of USB sticks is threatened.  The huge growth in the sale of tablets and smart phones (neither of which typically have USB ports) combined with faster and more reliable broadband and 4G solutions could accelerate the move from USB sticks to cloud based back-up solutions like Drop Box.

But, one area where the sale of USB memory sticks remains strong is in the promotional gift sector. Companies looking for a relatively inexpensive give-away with their brand/logo printed onto it are increasingly choosing promotional USB memory sticks – the primary reasons for this are:

  • USB Sticks have a high perceived value
  • They are well received and highly regarded as a promotional give away
  • Unlike pretty much any other promotional product they can be pre-loaded with lots of useful information in the form of promotional videos, sales brochures, tech sheets, price lists and links to Social Media and web sites.
  • They’re inexpensive – prices start at less than £2 per USB stick (fully printed or engraved and pre-loaded with data)
  • There a lots of different models and designs to choose from and they all look excellent printed up with a logo/design
  • They can be combined with a wide range of accessories and attractive gift boxes – all of which reinforce any brand printed on them and all add to the perceived value of the “gift” when handed out.
  • When brochures and other sales material that is normally printed and handed out is save electronically onto them then significant costs savings on print and distribution can be made.
Promotional USB Memory Sticks - The Popular Twister Model

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - The Popular Twister Model

So whilst USB sticks will come under increased pressure from cloud storage options for now at least their future as a promotional gift seems pretty much assured – after all you can’t really generate much excitement and warmth when you hand out a URL for your customers  to go and download your sales material.

Share

Emergency, Emergency Promotional USB Sticks Needed Tomorrow.

Posted by USB2U on 29th October 2013 | Permalink

In the overall scheme of things struggling to find a supplier that can deliver your promotional USB memory sticks in a hurry is in the irritating and annoying category rather than career threatening. That is unless it’s something that you were asked to do weeks ago and you’ve just been putting it off or have simply forgotten about it – then it does have have the potential be career damaging.

Sometimes the need to find a USB supplier urgently can be as a result of being let down at the last minute by your normal supplier – problems with “customs and international carriers” are often cited as reasons why USB sticks are late and miss their promised delivery dates.

You can also find yourself in this dilemma because someone you thought someone else had it under control only to find out at the last minute that they had

emergencyUSB

emergencyUSB

nothing under control!

All the planning and preparation in the world can’t accommodate these little “bombs” when they happen but what you can do is try and factor in a little contingency in your plans. Granted, it’s not always easy and contingency has a nasty habit of just being “absorbed” into any project – it’s the nature of the beast!

Our advice if you do find yourself in desperate need for some branded USB memory sticks is – don’t panic!  At USB2U we pride ourselves on being the “4th Emergency Service” We regularly rescue customers from tight scrapes, save reputations and keep careers on track. The reason we can do this is because unlike our competitors we carry tens of thousands of  plain, unprinted USB sticks in the UK which we can print and get delivered in as little as 24hrs!!

Whilst we don’t carry the full range of USB sticks shown on our web site we do have around 20 different styles to choose from so there is bound to be something in our “rush range” that meets most customers’ needs. In addition to a wide range of USB sticks we also carry thousands of USB gift boxes, lanyards and keyrings all of which can be combined with our USB sticks.

So, if you do find yourself in a tight spot and you need some printed or engraved USB sticks in a hurry then just give us a call and speak to one of our experienced sales team – they’ll talk you though the options and our in-house designer will work with you to make sure we can deliver a promotional USB stick that not only gets you out of trouble but exceeds your expectations.

Printed-in-24hrs

Printed-in-24hrs

Share

Promotional USB Sticks Replace CD’s and DVD’s

Posted by USB2U on 28th October 2013 | Permalink

Ever since USB memory sticks hit the market around 10 years ago it was only going to be a matter of time before they replaced CD’s and DVD’s as the preferred way to hand out and share company information.

Their adoption has been accelerated over recent years partly because laptop manufacturers now rarely include CD/DVD reader on their new models and partly because USB memory sticks are simply a better technology.

Of course it helps that the price of USB sticks has fallen dramatically over the past few years. In addition to this the amount of memory you can now buy for a few pounds wouldn’t have seem possible even 2-3 years ago.

But more than anything else it’s the range of styles and types of USB that are now available that has really lit a fire under the sale of promotional USB memory sticks. Gone are the days when there were just a few simple rectangular and purely functional models to choose from. Today they are available in hundreds of different shapes and styles; some are made from wood, some from plastic, some from leather, some from bamboo and some from PVC.

The companies, schools and universities that are buying them in there thousands don’t even have to restrict themselves to a standard colour or a standard design. Any colour is possible simply by pantone matching the plastic or leather to a specific pantone reference or colour swab. If companies want something completely unique then they can now commission fully bespoke USB sticks made in any 2D or 3D shape – literally anything is possible, USB sticks in the shape of a training shoes, lips, ships, cars, pieces of fruit, anything!

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Custom Versions

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Custom Versions

Any chosen model of USB stick can then be printed or engraved and supplied complete with a fully personalised gift box. It’s also likely that these USB sticks will be pre-loaded with data-files (presentations, video clips, speakers notes etc.) before they are handed out.

When handed out today’s promotional USB memory sticks are incredibly well received – people like them, they like being given them and more importantly they keep them and use them and they keep on using them. So popular have they become that USB memory sticks are now the most popular technology based promotional product in the world and whilst something will ultimately supercede them (just as they superceded the CD and DVD) for now at least they are what most savvy marketers, advertising agents, PR companies, schools and professional photographers are choosing.

Share

Relax in the Promotional USB Stick Game and you’re someone else’s Lunch!

Posted by USB2U on 15th July 2013 | Permalink

In the promotional USB memory stick market you can’t rest on your laurels because your competitors will “eat your lunch”. Competition is fierce, new suppliers are entering the market every week and the market has been thrown into turmoil over the last few months with instability in the supply of flash memory and a turbulent foreign exchange market (flash is traded in $ USD and the pounds recent dramatic fall against the $ has pushed prices up again.).

Against this backdrop demand for promotional USB memory sticks continues unabated. Already the most popular promotional give-away product in the UK the challenge for market leading suppliers like USB2U who want to maintain their dominant position is to ensure that they continue to invest, innovate and focus very clearly on providing an unparalleled level of service at an affordable price (without any sacrifice on quality!)

Not a company to shirk a challenge USB2U has:

  1. Made a further six figure investment technology that allows them to produce, print and data-load thousands of promotional USB sticks in their 4,000 sq ft state of the art facility in Northampton. The investment also allows for a significant increase in the number of USB sticks that can be personalized and delivered in as little as 24hrs!

    Additionally it has strengthened its team bringing the total headcount up to 18. This includes a doubling of their design staff to allow them to turn around the significant volume of free mock-up requests that flow in every day as well.

  2. Recently added a number of new USB models to its already impressive range of promotional USB memory sticks and doubled the range of printed gift box solutions it now offers.  New additions include a wooden bodied “Twister” with a metal clip, the “Glide”, a very attractive capless USB stick and a sleek looking model with a good flat print area called the “Shadow”

    More new models will be released this week including a new style of USB pen, a new USB “slap on” wristband and a new USB Credit Card!

  3. Finally USB2U has been a pioneer in the use of 3rd party customer review sites like TrustPilot  These independent sites allow customer to leave feedback on the service they have received (good and bad) and they act as a good barometer for other prospective customers looking to use the services of any company. With a ranking of “Excellent” and a score of 9.6 (garnered from nearly 1,000 reviews) USB2U is clearly doing something right.

With the UK economy starting to look up and with UK firms feeling more confident about the future USB2U appear well placed to take advantage of the continued demand for promotional USB memory sticks.

New Wooden USB Twisters from USB2U

New Wooden USB Twisters from USB2U

Share

Grade A USB Sticks – A Marketing Myth

Posted by USB2U on 29th May 2013 | Permalink

Would you pay the same price for a car with a 950cc engine as you would for a car that has a 1.6 Litre engine?  Would you pay the same price (or very close to it) if the car with the smaller engine has been manufactured from cheaper components, some of which might have been rejected from another car in a different factory?

Of course the decision will be made much harder if they both will look the same and the performance quoted by the garage selling the cars is identical or very similar. After all, they’ll both have a nice shiny paint finish, the interior will look smart and they’ll both have all the same basic features BUT when you start to drive them you’ll notice a huge difference in performance and efficiency.

If the car with the smaller engine has been put together on the production line using rejected or “cheaper” components then not only will the performance be adversely affected but it’s unlikely to last very long and any warranty is only any good if the garage you’ve bought it from.

The way to avoid these issues is to buy reputable cars from a trusted dealership. Let’s face it most people who buy cars are not mechanics and they rely on the honesty of the dealers and the reviews of 3 party organisations and other customers.

The same can be said about buying promotional USB memory sticks – on the face of it a USB Stick like the popular Twister Model looks the same wherever you buy it from – surely it’s just a case of shopping around and getting the best price?

In reality unless you’re not bothered about the quality and performance of the sticks you’re buying nothing could be further from the truth. It’s also pointless relying on the description “Grade A” because this is a meaningless “marketing label” dreamt up by the industry and now widely abused.

If you accept that externally USB sticks look the same then what you need to know is what “engine” has been used inside the stick and whether it’s a “new engine” or one that’s been clocked. But, even if you know to ask this how can you tell what you’ve been supplied with when the USB sticks arrive?

Here are some basic pointers to help you ask the right questions and to help you to check what you’re buying (and what ultimately gets delivered):

1. There are 3 different types of USB flash memory and controllers that are used in most USB memory sticks and ALL of them tend to be described as Grade A but they are very different in terms of quality/performance.  They are categorised as follows:

  • SLC – Single Layer Cell (Best quality and usually used by Major High Street brands)
  • MLC – Multi Layer Cell (Slower than SLC but pretty good quality and more than adequate for all promotional use)
  • TLC Triple Layer Cell (Cheapest option, often referred to as Grade A, tends to be slow and has much shorter expected life than other options and a high failure rate. Not recommended for photographers or anyone handling large files with complex file structures – quite often “masked” to look like the memory is greater than it actually is!

2. When comparing quotes from various suppliers it’s pointless relying on the description “Grade A” because they all get described as Grade A – you need to know the type of memory used and they type of controller used (this is a chip that sits alongside the memory and controls the read/write function – again these come in different quality grades). Don’t be afraid to ask these questions. Any reputable supplier will know (should know) the answers and if they don’t then alarm bells should ring.

3. When you’re satisfied that you know exactly what you’re being quoted for then you need to think about how you check your order when it arrives. You need to check that you’ve been supplied what you paid for. Don’t be taken in by how good the printed USB sticks look. You can do this by taking a sample of the USB sticks and running the following checks:

  • Plug them into a PC and check the capacity is what you ordered
  • Load data files to the capacity of the drive and then remove the drive and plug it into anther PC – if the data is not there then it’s likely the USB sticks have been masked and don’t contain the amount of storage you’ve bought.
  • Load large video files onto the USB sticks and then run the video files from the sticks – the video should run without the image breaking up or appearing “jerky”
  • Use any of the freely available software on the web to check the speed and performance of the USB sticks.

4. Finally, do some basic checks before you order and before you hand over any money. Some obvious but basic checks include:

  • Check 3rd party review sites for other customer reviews
  • Carry out a basic credit reference check – these only cost a few pounds and are worth it if you’re ordering a reasonable number of USB sticks – it will give you lots of detail about the company’s trading history, its directors and trading address.
  • Check their address on Google Maps – it’s surprising how many businesses look like large, well established businesses based on their web site but are actually operating from a shed in a garden.
  • Read the Terms & Conditions of supply to make sure you are clear what you (and the supplier) are committing to.

Unless you really aren’t bothered about the quality of the product that going to be supplied to you then the onus is on you to ask these question and to do your research. USB sticks described as “Grade A” sound great but so what. The reality is that this is just a fancy “label” dreamy up by marketers to help sell their products.

Top Quality Promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

Top Quality Promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

Share