December 08 Updates

CustomUSB Business Cards

I hope everyone had a nice holiday break. I wanted to let you know about new things that happened at CustomUSB in December.

  1. We’ve updated our website. New products and solutions are available. We are shifting our focus from the standard USB products to our ability to create any custom shaped USB drives, thus the new slogan – “Custom (Anything) USB.” See for yourself, CustomUSB.com.
  2. Down the same path, we are working with Gatorade, Taco Bell, and UTLX and are helping them create completely custom USB drives that resemble their products. I will have pictures soon.
  3. We just received new business cards (featured above), designed by yours truly. Let me know if you like them.
  4. Earlier this year we sponsored the Urban Network Music Conference and as a result I was asked to be on a panel at the Chicago Urban Music conference that will be happening next summer. We are also working on an ad design for the Urban Network Magazine.
  5. We have teamed up with Petrol Advertising and are producing a custom gas pump USB drive for them. In return, they are building us a video presentation to showcase our VIP KEY solution. Take a look at their drive design below. This will be a metal, 2GB USB drive with their branding engraved.

Petrol Custom USB Drive

Getting in Sync (and I don’t mean the band)

Here is a question I hear at least once a day:

Hi, my name is (insert name here) and I am looking for a price quote. We currently use CD’s to distribute our content (digital catalog, music, software) and want to switch to USB drives. We don’t have a specific budget in mind, but we pay about $1-2 for CD’s. Do you have anything in the same price range?

Not only is the answer “no”, but this is absolutely the wrong question to ask. Here is the right question:

How would you suggest I change what I do so that when I purchase USB drives I get the most out of the money I invest?

In other words, if your method is wrong, a $2 USB drive will do you no good. You need to align your promotion / product launch / campaign with the tools you are using. A printed Flash Drive is a tool. You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to nail down a picture, nor would you use a garden hose to bathe your infant. So why do so many people try to use a Flash Drive to substitute for a CD distribution.

In his brilliant book, Meatball Sunday, Seth Godin talks about how in order for companies to benefit from “new” marketing (blogs, social media, viral spread of ideas), they need to align their organization to be in sync with this marketing. Same with USB drives. If you are looking to replace your CD distribution with USB drives, you won’t. They will never be cheap enough.

Here is a list of everything a USB drive is that a CD is not (don’t get me wrong, CD’s have lots of uses, they are just different)

  1. A USB drive is reusable (copy your files, then delete them, then copy them again)
  2. USB drives can be made into any 2D or 3D product (you can make a teddy bear USB drive if you want)
  3. USB drives are portable (I carry one on my keys that is less than an inch in length)
  4. You can run software directly off USB drives and have it save files right onto itself
  5. Finally, USB drives useful beyond the initial utility (that means the person who gets your drive will actually use it)

So before investing in some custom USB drives, you might want to think about the best way to approach your project, or call me for some ideas. They are always on the house.

Demand Driven

Someone asked me last week what made us (CustomUSB) start offering 24-hour turn around. The answer is DEMAND.

About the same time, I had some issues with one of our vendors. We have had and ongoing problem with delivery and quality of some parts we use to make our flash drives. This has been going on for quite a while and despite internal meetings and discussions I refuse to let it go. I continue to bring up the issue in hopes that it will get fixed, after all, all I ask for is some communication between the vendor and us. At this point, I am willing to put the lateness on the back burner, as long as we know that it will be late in advance. Nothing has happened yet.

If your customers are telling you what would make them happy, why not do it? If someone demands that you go the extra step for them – go the extra step. It takes 99.9% of your efforts to be just like everyone else, the final 0.1% (if you are willing to put in the work) makes you exceptional.

On the other hand, Ford and Chevy and Chrysler are in financial trouble. One could argue that the reason they built crappy, non-fuel-efficient cars is because people demanded them. Now, no one wants them.

THE LESSON: Listen to your customers, but don’t blame them if you end up with a bad product. The choice is always yours.

Product Review: Spin USB Drive

Say hello to the Spin drive.

Standing at 2.17 inches tall, 0.63 inches wide, and 0.35 inches deep, Spin is the most popular model on the market. Almost always, however, it is not used to its full potential.

Here are some things you probably did not know about Spin.

  1. The [a] Body of the Spin drive can be customized to match any Pantone color (includng Silver, Gold and Bronze). The paint can be glossy or rubber (rubber has a much nicer feel).
  2. The [b] Swivel can also be painted to match any Pantone color. By default, it comes in Silver, White, Gray, Black, Chrome, Gold, Mirrored Black and Mirrored Gold
  3. Logo is generally printed on the casing part, but can also print on the body. Printing can be any number of colors including a 4 color process (full color – like you see in the above image). Casings can also be laser etched (different casing finishes produce different engraved results).

Here are some additional points to consider about Spin.

  1. Since it is the most popular on the market, it is no longer unique.
  2. You can make it VERY unique by color matching the body and the swivel to your logo and engraving the logo for a lasting impression.
  3. Delivery time on the Spin model is generally 10 days. 24-hour rush is also available (with engraving). 3-day rush is available with a printed logo (one color).
  4. Printing area is 1” x 0.5” so keep that in mind when designing artwork.

That is Spin in a nut(custom Pantone)shell.

USB TIP: Print a logo on one side and don’t forget the URL and phone number on the other.

USB Drive: Disected (and explained)

Not everyone knows what a USB drive looks like on the inside. Well, here it is, in all its glory.

Here is what you can see in the image:

[a] NAND Flash – This is the memory chip. When you copy files to the drive, this is where they are stored. This type of memory is also used inside camera memory cards and solid state hard drives. Flash Memory was invented by Toshiba and introduced into the market in 1987. Currently the main manufacturers of Flash are Toshiba, Samsung and Hynix.

[b] Controller Chip – The controller chip is responsible for various functions of the USB drive. It allows partitioning, serial numbering and special formatting.

[c] LED – LED stands for Light Emmiting Diode. In simple terms, this is a light that indicates use of the drive. More simple than that, the light will blink when the drive is in use, and will stay lit when plugged in to the USB port.

Why is all of this important? Mainly because knowing what a USB drive is made up of can help you understand its functionality better. Without proper use, a USB drive is as useless as….well, I guess as useless as something useless.

USB TIP: Pre-loading (or printing) a unique URL allows you to easily track the use of your USB drives.

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