Ultimate Buying Guide for Custom USB Flash Drives

Plus 15 Ways to Use USB Drives to Promote & Empower Your Business

Or read below!

When you first started looking for custom USB flash drives, you probably figured it would be a quick and easy search on the Internet. After all, how complicated could this tech gadget be?

Then reality hit when you encountered the abundance of information and endless acronyms and lingo, like “GB” (gigabytes) and memory chip “tiers.” Why couldn’t there be one place—or one guide—to help assist you in making smart buying decisions?

Custom USB Drives from Amsterdam Printing

This became the inspiration for our Ultimate Buying Guide for Custom USB Flash Drives. We wanted to provide one document with all the info you’d need to make an informed buying decision. But we also wanted to take it a step further: because of who we are—a promotional products company—we wanted to show you all the ways you could use your custom USB flash drives to promote and empower your business. Ready to get started? Read on. Or if you’re ready to order now, review our full USB selection or request a quote.

See full selection of Custom USB Drives

USB Flash Drives Defined

Logo USB drivesA USB flash drive is a storage device (like a CD) that is specifically designed to write and rewrite data multiple times via your USB computer port. Flash drives are easy to use, ultra portable, and connect seamlessly with all modern computers (PC or Mac).

A custom USB flash drive is just that: one you can customize with a logo and/or a specific color, and even the information that you “pre-load” onto the drive (more on this below).


Choosing the Right Custom USB Flash Drive

It’s important to understand the ins and outs of USB flash drives before placing your order. Here are questions and considerations to keep in mind as you shop around.

What is the difference between USB 1.1 and USB 2.0?

USB 2.0 is the current version or the standard and allows for much faster speeds of data download/upload than its predecessor, USB 1.1. Today, the majority of custom USB drives on the market are USB 2.0, but it doesn’t hurt to confirm when ordering yours.

What is Tier 1 flash memory?

Although custom USB flash drives are not branded by a manufacturer (common options are Kingston, PNY, or Samsung), make sure that the flash memory used by your supplier is top-rated quality, Tier 1. It will ensure faster speed of your custom drives and a longer lifespan, delivering more impressions with your company’s logo.

Memory Capacity: What size is a good fit for my needs?

Custom USB drives come in a range of sizes, from as little as 512 Megabytes (MB) to 16 Gigabytes (GB).

Consider your target market when choosing the size.

Are your prospects/customers tech-savvy and likely to own a flash drive already?
Unique custom USB flash drivesIf they do, your drive’s memory should be at least equal to the one they already own (or make up the difference in the style of your drive: it has to be cooler, easier to carry with keys, or doubleup as a second function, like our Rainbow USB Ballpoint Pen). The most common memory sizes today are 4 GB (for tech-savvy audience) and 2 GB (for others).

What do prospects/customers do outside of work?
Storing spreadsheets or presentations doesn’t require too much space, but if the same person enjoys photography, he or she will require more space on the USB flash drive.

Consider the incremental cost.
The price difference between 2 GB and 4 GB flash drives is about 10-20%. However, doubled storage capacity means that your customers will hold onto the USB drive and actually use it!

Please use the reference table below to determine the right size for your target market.

1 GB

2 GB (most popular)

4 GB

8 GB

16 GB



















*Based on an average 5 MB song, 2 MB photo, and 100 KB document.

What gift packaging is available for custom USB drives?

Gift boxes for Custom USB drives

Custom USB drives come with gift box options, from acrylic and wooden boxes. Most come with a basic

paper gift box free of charge (other options will cost extra).


How will my imprint look on USB flash drives?

Custom USB drive pensDepending on a selected style, your imprint will be either screen-printed (allows to imprint multiple colors) or laser-engraved (single color).
With most USB drives, you can put your imprint on both sides. When the USB drive is in a non-standard shape (like our USB People Flash Drive or Rainbow USB Drive Pen), the imprint location is usually limited to one.

What is a pre-loading service?

Pre-loading means uploading your own information to your custom USB flash drives. For example, you can upload a presentation about your company’s services, case studies, or photos of completed work projects.
Most promotional products suppliers will provide pre-loading services free of charge, as long as it is not more than 100 MB.

What are the additional costs when it comes to custom USB flash drives?

If you select standard options, most promotional companies will include free setup, one-color imprint, and data upload (up to 100MB).
Additional charges may apply if you (a) select to upload a logo and/or (b) select two or more imprint colors (a charge per color will often apply to your order). Standard shipping & processing rates will also apply.

15 Ways to Promote Your Business with Custom USB Flash Drives

No doubt, you already have some ideas in mind for using custom USB flash drives to promote your business. But here are even more ideas for every phase of your business, from prospecting to re-engaging existing customers.

Note: for all of the examples outlined below, we recommend using a custom USB flash
drive that’s been branded with your company logo and colors.


1. Bring USB drives to tradeshows and give them away. Pre-load the USB drives with all of your literature: data sheets, white papers, articles, and catalogs. Tradeshow attendees often throw away catalogs and booklets before flying back home, but there’s a great chance they’ll hold onto the custom USB flash drive (especially if it’s on a key ring).

  • Bonus benefit: This is a green solution.

2. Use them as a leave-behind during sales calls. For example, let’s say you create a PowerPoint presentation that you use during your meeting with a prospect. Use your custom USB flash drive and plug it into your laptop. When the meeting is over, unplug and hand it to your prospect. Let the person know that in addition to the presentation, you’ve included some other files on the drive. Be sure one of the files includes a link that redirects to your website.

3. Warm up the cold call by creating a custom presentation for a prospect and sending it to him/her on a USB flash drive. This works especially well with those important clients you’re trying to get face time with. We’re not talking simply filling up the drive with info about your company. Take the extra step for a prospect you’re trying to woo and create a presentation around the prospect’s company. Now when you follow up, instead of a true “cold call,” it may actually be a little warmer, thanks to your extra effort.

These ideas in action:

  • If you’re a web designer, present three new design mock-ups of the prospect’s home page.
  • If you’re a marketing consulting, present a three-month action plan that will deliver results.
  • If you’re an interior decorator, after meeting with the potential customer and taking some pics of a room, use a 3D tool to recreate the room in a couple of ways (or create a “mood board” for the room). Load the ideas onto the USB flash drive and send it to the prospect as a “thank you” for his or her time.

4. Direct mail idea: “Plug in for Savings” campaign. Develop a target list of prospects.
Send the people on the list a custom USB flash drive that has been pre-loaded with a special file about your company and a printable coupon for one of your services. Include a personal note with the USB drive letting people know that they need to “Plug in for Savings.”

  • Hint: This idea could work well for both seasonal businesses (think landscapers, house painters) or techie businesses (think IT consultants, QuickBooks consultants).

5. Direct mail idea: “Seeing is Believing” campaign. This is similar to the “Plug in for Savings” campaign, but instead of loading a file with a coupon, load a file that shows images of recent work.

  • Hint: This idea could work well for interior decorators, web designers, general contractors (think kitchen and bath remodeling), and photographers.


Promotional USB drives6. Hand them out in addition to your business card. After a networking event, the pocket full of business cards may get tossed or thrown into a catch-all container. The custom USB drive has a better chance of standing out. Make it clear that it’s not an empty drive. Have something like “Plug me in to learn more about Awesome Company” printed on it.

7. If you’re the sponsor of a networking event, like a Chamber breakfast, ask if you can leave a USB drive at each place setting on the tables. (And follow the advice above.)

Reaching Charity Event Attendees… And Others:

8. Add custom USB drives to goodie bags for charity events. Again, load them up with some useful/worthwhile info. Think about who will be attending the event and customize accordingly.

Training Employees

9. Use USB drives to disseminate literature for new employees. USB drives provide an eco-friendly way to give new employees all the information they need about the job, such as employee handbooks, holiday schedules, and other policy documents.

10. Use USB drives for ongoing employee training. USB drives are especially useful
for businesses with multiple offices/branches. There are two ways to approach this:
send USB drives to the different offices with all the training materials; the person in
charge can print everything onsite. Or go green: provide every employee involved in
the training with his or her own drive with training materials.

Engaging Current & Past Customers/Clients

11. Think digital portfolios/ Digital testimonials. This goes along with ideas #3 and #5 above. A great way to re-engage past clients or to get current clients excited about new offers is to reach out to them by sending them a USB drive loaded with images of your latest projects and a video testimonial or two.

  • This idea in action: For example, if you’re a carpenter, you might reach out to customers for whom you’ve remodeled their kitchens. Send them a USB drive with images of recent bathroom remodeling projects you’ve completed…and then offer a special time-sensitive deal.

12. Think repositories for documents and tutorials. This can work well for businesses that deal in a lot of “paper,” like accountants and bookkeepers. Provide your clients with USB drives of documents they’ll need each quarter or throughout the year. Or perhaps you provide consulting work and have guides, tutorials, or instructions that you give to all clients. USB flash drives are a great way to share this info while promoting your business.

13. Think end-of-year packages. Many businesses send clients and customers holiday gifts, such as gift baskets or gourmet samplers. Add an extra special component to these gifts by including a custom USB drive that you’ve pre-loaded with a text-based or video holiday greeting from your company.

Wildcard Ideas for Games and Contests

Custom USB Keys14. You’re a Winner in a Flash! Remember the contests that radio stations used to hold where the station would give away a car and a bunch of listeners would win keys, but only one key would start the car? Same concept, new digital age: pre-load a bunch of USB drives with info about your company, but one USB will have an additional bit of info, including a specific link to a custom page on your website, which will reveal the prize the person won (this also gets the person back to your website). Use these USB drives as giveaway items for prospects, at networking events, at tradeshows, and at live customer appreciation events. You get the idea.

  • Variation: Make every USB drive a winner. Just mix up the types of prizes you give away.

15. Crack the Code. This is a more involved contest idea, but it could get you some great exposure. This could work especially well for retailers or for a company that has a rabid fan base at conferences or tradeshows. Announce to your customers that you’re holding a “Crack the Code” contest. The payoff should be big (think something like airline tickets or a trip somewhere). The “code” should be on a landing page on your site (with clear rules). You’d announce that you’re including clues on USB drives that people can obtain in-store or at company events. Either the first person to successfully crack the code wins. OR you could accept entries for a given length of time, and all successful code-crackers would be entered into a drawing. This has huge viral potential.


We hope you found our Ultimate Buying Guide for Custom USB Flash Drives to be helpful. If you have questions or comments, we welcome hearing them.
Contact us at 1-888-571-5853, email usb@amsterdamprinting.com, or request a quote at: www.AmsterdamPrinting.com/USB-quote

Request a Custom USB Quote

About Amsterdam Printing

Since 1898, we’ve been providing high quality printed products to our customers. Over the years, however, we’ve involved into something more. Sure, we still provide awesome promotional products that help you market your organization better. But we also strive to share all of the promotional and marketing knowledge—the tips, tricks, and tools—we’ve learned over a century in business. To that end, we’ve developed documents like this Ultimate Buying Guide as well as numerous posts on our Promo & Marketing Wall blog. We hope you’ll consider subscribing.

Learn more about Amsterdam Printing or visit our vast inventory of promotional products on our website. Thanks for reading!

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