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Five Days and Counting – Come See USB2U at The Photography Show

Posted by USB2U on 17th March 2015 | Permalink

The weather forecast for this weekend (according to the BBC) is “cool and breezy with scattered showers” so not exactly the weather for doing a great deal outside. The gardening and other chores can wait until things perk up a little and the promises you made to get your bike out or take the kids for a walk in the Spring sunshine to see the new season lambs might have to be put on hold – well for a few days at least!

This weekend your time, if you’re a professional photographer or budding amateur that’s thinking of going professional this year, would be better spent at The Photography Show in Birmingham. The show takes place at the NEC in Hall 5 and runs from this Saturday (21st March) until Tuesday (24th March) and it’s going to be massive. Last year over 29,000 professional and enthusiast photographers attended the show and the organisers expect this year’s numbers to be even higher.

USB2U at The Photography Show

USB2U will be a The Photography Show at the NEC this were

With a mission to create a “photography day out you’ll never forget” the organisers have pulled out all the stops to bring together a 4 day program that is rammed full of exciting, informative and education elements with plenty of fun and shopping opportunities along the way. There will be plenty of chances to have a play with some of the very latest kit, to hear first hand from some of the world’s most inspirational photographers (Tom Stoddart and Mary Ellen Mark to name but two) what makes them tick and how they approach their work.

There will be advice clinics (run by Bowens) and plenty of in-show seminars and workshops to help you brush up on your skills. If you do decide to go then don’t forget your own camera because there will be tons of photo opportunities throughout the event and of course there will be lots of competitions to enter with some amazing prizes on offer.

We’ll be there again this year (come see us on Stand H131) but having been overrun last year we’ve invested in a bigger stand this year! We’ll also have more of our amazing USB2U team on hand to talk you through our USB Memory Stick and gift box packages and there will be plenty of show discounts and offers that you can take advantage of.

We’re taking lots and lots of examples of printed and engraved USB memory sticks and examples of our new wooden gift boxes that we’re keen to get feedback on – we love them but we’d still value your opinion.

If photography is your thing then we’d strongly recommend making some time to come to the show later this week and if you do please make sure you stop by and say hello – we’d love to show you what we can do and if you’re an existing customer we’d love to catch up with you and get your feedback on our work.

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Is Chinese New Year to Blame for a lack of Tartan at the Cricket World Cup

Posted by USB2U on 16th February 2015 | Permalink

We’ve been documenting over the last few weeks the challenges that Chinese New Year throws up for the promotional USB memory sticks market but even we didn’t think it would have an impact on the 2015 IIC Cricket World Cup.

Tomorrow is the day when the Scottish team take the field against the co-hosts (New Zealand) in Dunedin but unfortunately they’ll be doing so without their specially commissioned shirts that feature tartan on the sleeves. Not just any tartan either but tartan based on the clan of 19th century test cricketer Gregor MacGregor.

Unfortunately the shirts, which by all accounts were being manufactured and shipped from China, seem to have been delayed and our suspicion is that they’ve been caught up in the same Chinese New Year challenges that we’ve been warning about for weeks. From the various reports flying around it looks as though the Scottish Team just left things a little too late and had no margin for any delays. What a shame because the shirts would have looked great and Ben Fox, a team spokesman has apparently said “it’s unlikely they’ll ever see the light for day now”.

Our best wishes go out to Scotland for their opener tomorrow.

If nothing else this little episode should act as a warning to anyone looking to buy branded goods anytime around Chinese New Year – it really is a case of “buyer beware”.

Our advice is to buy from a local supplier that has what you want to buy in their hands and all they have to do is apply your branding/logo to them. You might end up paying marginally more but at least you’ll know you are going to get them. It’s no good saving a few pennies only for the finished goods to miss your deadline. That’s embarrassing for all concerned – ask the Scottish Cricket Team if you’re in any doubt!

If its USB flash drives with your logo on that you need then at USB2U we hold tens of thousands of them in stock during Chinese New Year and we print/engrave them in-house so we not only control the delivery but we control the overall quality/production.

Unfortunately we don’t supply branded clothing so as much as we might like to we can’t rescue the Scottish Cricket team – USB sticks with a dash of tartan on are not a problem!

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

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Tins aren’t what they used to be – Well at least not USB ones!

Posted by USB2U on 10th February 2015 | Permalink

There was a time when a presentation tin box for a promotional USB stick was a pretty bland affair but times they are a changing!

There are two main factors are at play here:

  1. More and more companies that buy USB memory sticks to give-away (for whatever reason) are understanding that you get a much more positive response if your package your sticks rather than just give them out without any thought about how they are presented. It’s pretty easy understand why this might be the case – after all how many of us hand over birthday presents or Christmas presents without 1st wrapping them up or at the very least putting some effort into their presentation. Gifts (even corporate promotional gifts) handed out in pretty/attractive packaging look better, they generate a better response and they provide another medium onto which to promote the companies brand.
  2. Print technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Today it’s relatively simple to print across the full surface area of the USB presentation tins and the price to do this has dropped markedly. The results, as you can see from the images below, are fantastic and really do lift the overall impact of a simple USB stick.
Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

So, if you are thinking of buying promotional USB flash drives anytime soon it is definitely worth chatting through the options for packaging and in particular our metal presentation tin gift boxes. Not only can we now print in full colour (with print bleed right to the edge of the lid) but we can custom cut the foam insert to match any model of drive.

Of course it’s not just tins we offer so if tins are not your thing but you want a gift box then check out the extensive range of options we offer on our website. Pretty much all of them are held in stock in our UK warehouse and most (including the tins) can be printed and delivered in as little as 24hrs (you’ll pay a little more in rush fees for any “rush service”).

Remember we offer free samples (not with your own logo on but samples of our tins and boxes) so if you’re not sure which works best for you just ask and we’ll pop a sample or two in the post.

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

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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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Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives – In Short Supply

Posted by USB2U on 28th January 2015 | Permalink

If you’re in the market for any quantity of promotional USB flash drives over the next few weeks and you’re looking for cheap and cheerful drives to hand out at shows or events then you might be in for a frustrating time.

At any other time of the year it’s usually possible to pick up cheap 128MB promotional USB flash drives (typically around £1.50 each all branded up with your logo if you buy enough of them) but right now, in the run-up to Chinese New Year, things start to get challenging. The problem is that the factories that produce the world’s supply of these items shut for two weeks to celebrate the start of the New Year and National Day.

When the Chinese factories shut (or stop taking orders in anticipation of their closure) the stock available to buy is that held by local suppliers and these suppliers (like us) tend to carry the more popular 4GB and 8GB models. Obviously these are more expensive than the 128MB versions but you know the old adage “beggars can’t be choosers”.

If you have any need for cheap, low capacity USB memory sticks in the next couple of weeks you are strongly advised to get your orders in now. Don’t wait, don’t dither, don’t spend ages trying to negotiate the price down by a couple of pennies – just get your orders in now because it’s the only way you are going to stand any chance of getting your order this side of the Chinese New Year blackout. If you delay you either won’t get want you want or you’ll end up having to buy versions with a much larger capacity and at a higher price.

At USB2U we have invested heavily in blank stock across a range of different models (and memory sizes) which means that we will be able to offer a wide range of options to our customers throughout this period of instability. Be warned though it’s invariably the case that however much stock we buy that it gets sold through very quickly and some customers always end up disappointed.

As ever our recommendation is that you either email your account manager or give us a call to talk through the options and discuss when we could schedule your order. At the moment (28th January 2015) we still have lots of print slots available but it’s a dynamic situation so please don’t wait.

Cheap Flash Drives

USB2U Suppling USB Flash Drives Thoughout Chinese New Year 2015

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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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Worrying Early News from China on USB Flash Drive Shipments

Posted by USB2U on 21st January 2015 | Permalink

It begins. Today, earlier than anyone expected, UPS, one of main international carriers out of Hong Kong and China has announced that they will not be shipping any more consignments of USB flash drives this side of Chinese New Year.

This is a problem. Not just for us but for the industry as a whole. UPS, we assume, have decided to give priority to other consignments in the run-up to the National Holiday. Clearly there is limited capacity and with everyone knowing that we’re about to enter a 3-4 week “black hole”, that capacity has very quickly been taken.

Shipments that would have originally been scheduled with UPS are now being moved over to DHL but it won’t be long before DHL buckle under the pressure and impose their own restrictions. What’s slightly unnerving about this is just how soon it’s happening. Chinese New Year is on the 19th February, the factories close (or stop taking orders in anticipation of the holiday closures) on the 26th January but between now and the 19th February the hope was that the couriers would operate a near normal service.

This early action by UPS is likely to lead to panic in the market as re-sellers, suppliers and customers around the world who rely on them begin to fight for alternative shipping slots. Expect lots of trouble and lots of disappointed customers.

USB Memory Sticks - Chinese National Holidays 2013

USB Memory Sticks – Chinese National Holidays 2015

If you place an order for promotional USB sticks and your order gets caught up in this then bear in mind that it could be March before you see your order. Yes, March and even then it could be mid-March! Once your order is “in the system” there is little that can be done – you’re at the mercy of the couriers, the customs teams and the good will of all involved. Typically your contract won’t allow you to cancel or back-out of your order once placed (because no-one else will want a USB stick with your logo on) so it’ll just be a case of waiting for them to arrive. If you’re got a time critical event you ordered them for (a seminar, trade show, conference etc.) then this could be a bit of a problem!

Our advice (and we’ve been saying this for several weeks) is to place your orders now, don’t wait and place it with one of the larger companies that has some leverage in the market and will be able to use the contractual relationships with the couriers to get your order through in the next few days. Failing that order from a local company that has stock in-house and can print and supply from stock – this completely de-risks everything and means you could get your finished sticks in a matter of days from order!

Having been through this madness every year for the last 10 years or more we always stock in advance of Chinese New Year so that we can offer our customers UK printed and engraved options. This year we will again continue to offer our various “rush” service offerings throughout Chinese New Year. To be assured of delivery of promotional USB Flash Drives during over the next few weeks give us a call.

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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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Kick off your 2015 Sales & Marketing Drive with Promotional USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 29th December 2014 | Permalink

Now that the Christmas festivities are finally behind us its time to start to focus on plans to push your business forward in 2015. For any business looking to grow there are some key areas to focus on and these include developing your brand, getting your on-line presence right (including your Social Media profiles) and coming up with clear and cohesive plans to drive your sales. All easier said than done of course!

Interestingly promotional USB flash drives have regularly been used by companies, large and small, to achieve all of these primary objectives so if you’ve never thought of using them in your own company then perhaps 2015 is the time to give them some serious consideration. With prices falling and memory capacities increasing there really has never been a better time to buy.

For less than £2 – £3 per USB stick (each fully branded with your company logo) they can be pre-loaded with tons of information about your company and the products and services you sell. They can carry videos, product sheets, price lists, dynamic links to your website and your Social Media sites (Facebook, Google +, Twitter etc.) and much, much more. With a typical 4GB to 8GB of space to play with on your average promotional USB stick there is not going to be any shortage of storage space but even if you did find you needed a 16GB stick you’re typically only talking about an extra £1 or so!

Top Quality Promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

Top Quality Promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

Of course the benefit of extra storage space on any promotional USB stick is not so much about what you can pre-load onto the stick before you give it away but it’s about giving your customers (and prospective customers) something they want to hang onto and use. Arguably the larger the USB drive the more likely it is to be kept by the recipient and used again and again to store and carry their own data on.

In terms of brand development giving away a much sought after promotional item with your logo on is a great idea and if you give away a USB stick that is stuffed with lots of useful information and has spare capacity for the user (so you get the benefit of repeated brand exposure) you really will help to give your sales a well needed boost.

Of course they are not a panacea for any fundamental failings in your business offerings and positioning but for many companies they are a key part of their annual sales and marketing strategy and have been for many years!

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