If you’ve been shopping around for a promotional USB Card that can be designed according to your custom branding, you may have realized that there are quite a few retailers for card shaped USB Drives. Today, we’ll discuss what gives Promotional Drives an edge above the competition.
In this article:
- Why Customers Keep Coming Back To Promotional Drives
- Focus on Product
- Data Preloading
- Delivery Deadline, Lead Times, Production Times, and Shipping Times
- Summary – Some Closing Thoughts
- Minimum Order Quantity
Reasons Why Our USB Card Stands Out in the Market
Why Customers Keep Coming Back To Promotional Drives
At Promotional Drives, we have had the pleasure of working with thousands of customers who, after searching extensively, chose us. We feel lucky and are thankful that they chose to place their trust in us. We are aware of the competition. That motivates us to go the extra mile for every single one of our customers in order to set us apart. We strive to make sure everyone who chooses to do business with us realizes their trust in us is not misplaced. We think we do a pretty good job at that.
Measures of Success
There are two ways we measure our success.
The first form of measure is the feedback and reviews we get from our customers. You can check out some of our reviews here. The more important measure, however, is how many of our customers come back to us for repeat business. How many come back for a second, third, fourth and fifth order.
Whenever there is an opportunity for us to work with a new customer, we don’t just aim to get an order from them, but also to build an ongoing relationship. We strive to make this happen by trying to go above and beyond in everything we do. When the customer does come back to us, we feel validated.
However, there is another segment of our customers that particularly intrigues me. Part of the reason is that this segment has recently been growing quite a bit. This segment consists of customers who, on their first search, did not choose to go with Promotional Drives and went with an alternative supplier of USB Cards. Yet, for their second order, they did not go back to their original supplier and chose Promotional Drives instead.
After their first order with Promotional Drives, they could not stop raving about what a great experience they had. Not just in terms of the product they received, but the entire experience/interaction with us. I feel like they are not just a happy customer, but a fan.
Going Beyond Expectations
While this is certainly a great feeling, we decided that simply knowing we’re better is not enough. Simply knowing our customers are happy is not enough. We need to understand why we’re better and why our customers are happy. It’s also important to understand what’s important for our customers so we can improve those aspects even more. We also need to understand what aspects our customers do not really care about.
And last but certainly not least, we need to understand some aspects where we need improvement to make them happier. Essentially we felt a need to learn from our own customers about why they are so happy with us, so we can strive to make them even happier in the future by continuing to improve.
We strive to be the best in every aspect we can. What specifically is it about us that promotes such customer loyalty for our brand?
So that is exactly what we set out to do — learn from our customers why Promotional Drives is better. Based on surveys, comments, feedback, and conversations with our customers, here are the recurring themes that emerged over and over again as to why they would always choose Promotional Drives as a source for promotional USB Cards vs getting branded USB Cards from elsewhere.
Focus on Product
Perhaps this one reason can serve as a summary of all other reasons as well. At the end of the day, all the reasons I list below, in one way or another, tie back to this fact — Promotional Drives as a company is dedicated to perfecting the USB card.
Some promotional USB drives retailers boast that they carry various models and shapes of USB drives. Others don’t focus on flash drives and instead sell an assortment of other promotional products as well. This isn’t the case with Promotional Drives. We didn’t enter the industry thinking that the wallet USB card is just another promotional product.
The USB Card Is Our Expertise
USB Cards are what we started off with, and what after all these years remains our core. This is beneficial for two main reasons:
1. We have more than just a product perspective. Whereas companies may sell card-shaped USB drives as just another promotional product, we don’t believe the wallet USB Card is just another promotional product. We understand all the intricate details not just at a technical level. We also know its application/benefit to the particular customer we are talking to.
After years of experience of supplying promotional USB Cards to various industries and niches, we understand the exact utility it has for the customer we are dealing with, and what the benefit for them is at the end of the day. We make a differentiation in what the product means to lawyers vs what it means to real estate agents. Based on these insights, we can cater our entire process to better serve the particular customer.
2. Our entire staff, sales team, account managers, as well as our entire infrastructure, is dedicated to catering to USB Cards. The former makes us better equipped to handle your questions and give you advice. The latter makes us better equipped to meet demand and deadlines while assuring quality.
In short, branded USB Cards are in our DNA.
Since the USB card is our core, our support staff is better trained about the product than people at a place carrying them as just a generic product. We are better equipped to handle your questions. Whether it be technical questions, advice about what you should do, what your design should be, what benefits it has to you, or what the applications are for you, we can handle those.
There is another aspect of communication we value immensely — speed. We understand the importance of getting you what you need when you need it. We will send quote requests within 10 minutes. As soon as your sales representative receives an email with your logo/artwork, it will be forwarded to our in-house design team right away to create a free virtual proof. Same with revisions for the virtual proof.
You can reach us at our toll-free line at any time. Our sales managers and account managers will often give out their personal cell phone numbers in the interest of being reachable at whatever time you find most convenient for you. Our chat support is 24/7.
We want you to be able to talk to us whenever you want to, and we want to respond as fast as possible.
This is a big one for us.
When studying the industry, we were just as frustrated as you when trying to understand how exactly pricing works. Navigating through various miscellaneous charges is a headache we don’t want any of our customers to experience EVER.
Unit costs are followed by setup fees, then additional charges for backside printing. These charges depend on the number of colors. Data loading is the norm in the industry.
We never cared much for doing things the same way the promotional products industry has typically done them. What we do care about is making your life simple, and making your experience and interaction with us hassle-free.
Promotional Drives Price Structure
Our pricing structure is as straightforward as it gets. We will provide you with one unit price, depending on the quantity and storage capacity of USB Cards you need. Here are some of the other services we throw in for FREE:
- Full-color printing on the front and back of the USB Cards
- Data preloading is free — we noticed other retailers of promotional USB drives making this claim, but then it turns out it is only up to a certain limit, which is often too small for your needs. When we say data preloading is free, we mean its free regardless of the size of your content
- To make your lives even simpler, we went the extra mile and made shipping completely free within North America
Whenever we send out a quote, it will list every single charge. If there are any taxes applicable based on the location where we’re shipping to, we’ll show that upfront on your first quote, not wait till the last minute! There will be no unpleasant surprises when comparing your final invoice to initial quote, which is something we feel we’ve experienced way too often in the promotional products industry.
Being a company dedicated to promotional USB cards, we get a chance to observe, study, and understand the designs working in various industries.
When it comes to creating a virtual proof for your USB card, the industry standard is for promotional USB drive companies to take whatever logo/artwork you provide them with, put it onto a Photoshop template, and send it back to you.
We feel that, oftentimes, we are in a better position than our customers to create a great design for their USB card. While we do have customers who will send us designs that look amazing, some that even leave us in awe, there are also times when customers require a bit of guidance and advice on what would look good.
Our In-House Design Expertise
Among others, we pride ourselves in our in-house design expertise for USB marketing. Our designers understand not only what you are looking for, but what would work for you based on your company, your industry, your niche. The reason is probably that, whereas other promotional USB drive companies are dealing with tons of different shape/models of USB drives, or promotional products companies are dealing with tons of other promotional products, we deal with just the wallet USB Card.
We understand the intricate details of the product, not just from a technical product perspective, but from an application perspective of what you need it for. We understand a lawyer using USB business cards to hand over confidential documents to the client has different design needs than a hotel/resort looking to do a marketing promo, or a university/college handing USB drives out to students as swag.
Other companies offer the design service at an additional charge. We will always do it for free because we understand that design and aesthetics are an integral part of the product’s charm. We will work with you to get the concept that’s in your head on to a computer screen, and with your feedback we will revise it as many times as needed, no matter how long it takes, to get it perfect for you.
There is also a bonus here. You get artwork that you can also use in your other branding, marketing, and promotional material, for example, regular business cards.
Virtual proofs are a great way to get the design in your mind onto a computer screen. However, at times there’s no equivalent of getting the actual physical tangible product in your hands. That’s why, when we send out samples, the option of sending you a USB Card sample with your custom branding is always on the table. If we have created a virtual proof for you, we can use it to produce just one sample. At times a generic sample simply does not cut it.
When you receive a sample custom branded for you, you can check not just what our print quality is generally like, but how specifically your logo, your branding, your artwork, and your colors will print on the USB card.
Another thing we do with our samples that our customers really appreciate is we send the USB card with an actual functioning USB chip, whereas in the past, they may have been used to receiving samples with a dummy USB chip. We do this because we realize it is not just the print and materials quality/finishing that’s important, but also the USB chip quality. This gives you a chance to check out the quality, and other things such as read/write speeds if those are important to you.
If there is data you’re planning on having preloaded on your order, we can include this on your sample as well. This gives you a chance to ensure it is functioning correctly and that nothing was corrupted during the transfer. Which we can safely assume will not be, as I will detail below.
First of all, when we claim we offer free data preloading on your USB Cards, we actually mean it. The reason I have to clarify this is because there are numerous USB drive vendors who claim to offer free data preloading, but once you place an order you realize it is only free up to a certain size. Often times this may not be enough for your needs. When we say free data preloading, we mean free to any size with no limit (other than the size of the USB drive you purchased).
We also do not have any restrictions on the types and formats of files we can preload, which is something our customers have experienced when previously dealing with other vendors. This is because we have a foolproof procedure to ensure no matter what file format you have or what the total size of data is, it ends up on your USB Cards exactly as you wanted it to.
Making Sure USB Cards Work Well
If you frequently attend trade shows and conferences where promotional USB Drives are distributed, you may have experienced trying to view the content on one of these, only to realize it’s corrupted and not accessible. Unfortunately, this is not too uncommon in the promotional USB drives industry. Oftentimes, orders are in the range of thousands, or even tens of thousands of USB drives, and getting the data perfectly loaded on every single USB can get a bit tricky.
While in our early days we were guilty of the same mistake in a few of our orders, we quickly made the decision that it’s absolutely unacceptable. If a customer of ours orders 5000 USB Cards with a PDF loaded to distribute at a conference, and the PDF is corrupted, there is absolutely no excuse for that. It defeats the purpose of using promotional USB Cards to promote their brand. In fact, it can actually make a negative impression!
This is why we had to come up with a foolproof way to ensure that any time a customer needs us to preload data on an order of their USB cards, it should be perfect on every single card, no matter whether the order is for a hundred, thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of USB cards! And no matter what the size of the data is.
The MD5 Checksums
We ensure this by using something called MD5 checksums.
“The MD5 hash algorithm is a commonly used function for validating data integrity.”
It sounds complicated, but our account managers make it really simple for you.
Let me explain a bit first about why data can get corrupted.
- You send your data online, via email, FTP, or a service like Google Drive or Dropbox, to your account manager.
- Your account manager then downloads the data, checks it, repackages it to make it optimal for loading on your USB drives.
- The account manager then uploads it again to an FTP server for our manufacturing site to download.
Whenever uploading or downloading data, some part of it may get corrupted. The larger the data, the higher the probability.
When you have data on your computer and you generate an MD5 hash for it, it is a unique code that can be generated for only that data if it is not changed at all, not even one bit.
When we download the data on our end, we also ask you to send over the MD5 hash generated on your end. Then we generate the MD5 hash for the data downloaded on our end, and only if the two codes match can we be certain that we have indeed completely downloaded your data correctly, without any corruption. Your account manager repeats the process with our manufacturing site.
How The USB Cards Are Kept Safe
Since this sounds a bit complex, the prevalent method of trying to make sure the data didn’t get corrupted is to use measures such as the number and size of files as a way to judge whether all data has been received.
However, this is very flawed. It is possible for only bits of the data to get corrupted, which would not influence file count or file size at all. What it could potentially do though is cause a PDF to not open, a video to freeze midway, or a PowerPoint presentation to not load. None of these are options are acceptable for us when it comes to creating a customer’s USB card for our customers.
Using MD5 hashes, the slightest of corruptions will be detected, and we will load your data perfectly every single time on every single USB card. You can have peace of mind that we are following a systematic process and your USB drives will just work.
And despite all of this, data preloading for all our orders is still free, regardless of data size.
When it comes to product quality of the USB cards, there are a few different things to check:
- Print quality,
- Quality of the device itself (hinge durability, etc.)
- USB chip’s quality
Industry-wide, it is not uncommon to find variations in all three of these categories, even when dealing with the same supplier.
The problem isn’t really that other promotional USB drive and promotional product companies are dishonest. It’s that they themselves are unaware of the quality. In line with this, it’s possible they also don’t have the knowledge of how to implement systems and processes that result in consistent quality in every aspect of the USB Cards. Additionally, they also might not have the resources and time to implement them.
Most often, the companies are essentially a middleman, forwarding your order to a Chinese factory without having their own quality processes and checks laid out. There is also a flawed assumption on their part that if all initial orders are inspected to be okay, later batches will be of the same quality. Quality tends to reduce when quality controls are lax.
For example look at this post detailing our quality assurance procedure for the print in detail.
We follow systematic quality assurance standards with an AQL of 1%
We only use Grade A quality memory chips exclusively from the following reliable three reliable suppliers – Samsung, Hynix, and Toshiba. However, it is not uncommon for other suppliers to use refurbished chips.
Another problem that does exist in the USB chip market in China is the prevalence of upgraded chips. Upgraded chips are programmed to display a larger storage capacity on the USB drive than what’s actually available. This can be extremely harmful, as it will not prevent you from copying a larger size of data, or give you a notification informing you the capacity is not available. It will copy with no problem, but once you disconnect the USB and plug it into a computer next time, any data beyond the original storage capacity of the USB chips will be missing.
We use a software called H2 to make sure that every single USB chip is actually of the storage capacity it claims to be. The same software is also used to ensure that the read and write speeds are of a certain standard.
Because of the stringent systems and processes we have in place to ensure consistent quality standards, our customers can have peace of mind that they will get a high-quality product every single time, and there will be no inconsistencies among their various orders.
Delivery Deadline, Lead Times, Production Times, and Shipping Times
Some companies use the words “lead time,” others use “production time,” yet others talk about “shipping time.” They may mean the same thing or different things, but what they focus on is the time it takes them to produce your order of USB cards, or the time it takes them to ship your USB cards to you.
We realize that, at the end of the day, our customers truly care about only one thing — when their custom branded USB devices will actually be delivered to them. This is why when we say “lead time”, we mean when the order will be in your hands. The date we give you is the date you will receive the order, not when we will ship it out. We will work with you to meet your deadline, and give you a tracking number showing when it is reaching you.
We are so confident in our ability to get your custom branded USB Cards to you by when you need them, that we have a policy of a 100% refund if we miss your deadline. And despite this, our shipping is still free!
Right at the beginning of this post, I mentioned that instead of taking an order-based approach, we take a relationship-based approach. Our sales representatives are not trained to get your order — they are trained to build valuable and ongoing relationships.
When we talked to our customers who had previously tried other vendors, a lot of them were frustrated at how the sales representatives they dealt with had been professional, courteous, friendly and helpful during the sales process all the way up to the order. Yet once the order has been made, it was a lot harder to get a hold of them, whether it be to check in about production and shipping status, or a question after receiving the order.
We never want our customers to be in that position. In fact, they should not even have to inquire about production or shipping status — we should reach out proactively! This is why we have a dedicated account manager for every single one of our customers. Not only will the account manager proactively inform you of your order status throughout the process, but they will also proactively reach out to you once you receive the order. We always love to hear your feedback! That is how we continue to learn, continue to improve and continue to grow
In the rare case there’s something is wrong with your order, your account manager will arrange to have your USB cards picked up from wherever you are and have the batch corrected and shipped to you, at no additional cost at all! All our USB cards are backed by a 12-year warranty.
For your repeat orders, your artwork and your data will be kept on file. There is no need to send it again, and it saves you a lot of time and effort.
Summary – Some Closing Thoughts
I think it’s worth repeating that the reason we can maintain all the aforementioned advantages ultimately comes back to the fact that we do not treat the wallet USB cards as just another product.
Over the years of focusing on this device, we have had the opportunity to explore the numerous industries and niches the USB card can add value to. Therefore, when dealing with any customer, the frame of the conversation is the value the USB card will bring them specifically and not just the value of the product itself from a technical perspective.
These insights translate into all aspects of our interaction with our customers, whether in the form of understanding differences in designs that various niches require, or being able to give advice related to the application of USB cards within their specific industry.
A hotel/resort does not use the USB card for the same purpose as a lawyer. Whereas promotional custom printed USB Drive sellers may be product-focused and think its a promotional product like any other they carry — all they have to do is just print your logo and ship it to you, we understand more.
The Right Add-Ons For the Right Occasion
Along the same lines, we also understand what the right add-ons for the right occasion are. For example, someone buying USB cards for a conference may need custom printed lanyard. They may overlook this fact themselves, but always appreciate when we bring it up and find it extremely valuable. We would not offer the same to someone who is using them as USB business cards. Yet when they are being purchased as corporate gifts, we would recommend the aluminum tin case to give a more high-end look.
With regards to packaging, there are various aspects of your brand that matter. We’ve gotten really good with making decisions such as how many colors your logo has, whether printing the logo on a metal case or embossing the logo on a leather sleeve would look better with years and years of experience. In the end, our customers benefit because from our experience and dedication to the end product.
Oh, and there is one more point that many of our customers mentioned, which I almost forgot about. It may not seem as important as everything I have mentioned above, but I truly believe it matters:
Minimum Order Quantity For the USB Card
Our minimum order quantity is just 10 USB cards, which is a lot lower than what you would typically find. The reason for this is not because selling 10 USB cards is good business for us. We want to provide the opportunity for everyone to try their own custom branded USB cards for themselves, without being forced to make a big commitment. We are very confident they will fall in love with the device once they try it. But more than that, we are confident they will fall in love with our brand, and always come back to Promotional Drives for their custom branded USB cards and USB flash drives.
Ready to try out a minimum order of 10 USB Cards? Get started by requesting a quote here.
How are you planning to use our USB card be used for your business? Let us know in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on December 9, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.