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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Custom Printing: Print Flyers vs. Online Flyers

I read an article today suggesting that on-line flyers would replace print flyers, not immediately, but in the next five to ten years.

The article noted that flyer printing is a large expense for retail establishments, and from the point of view of the offset or digital custom printing services, flyer printing generates abundant revenue.

I have some thoughts on digital flyers, since I have been receiving them in my email box for some time now.

1. Digital flyers are useful for researching goods or services: When I’m already on the computer, digital flyers are welcome and useful if I am searching for a particular item. Therefore, I often read or at least skim email flyers about computer hardware and software. Some digital flyers or magazines even have useful links to product reviews or videos.

2. But they can be annoying when you’re not interested in the product or service: If I’m not looking for a particular item, I’ll delete the digital flyer without even skimming it. In fact, I delete about 90 percent of the promotional emails I receive without glancing at them, based entirely on their subject lines. (But I don’t throw out any physical mail or print flyers without at least glancing at them.)

3. Print flyers are hard to dismiss entirely: In contrast to digital flyers, I like to peruse the print flyers from the local community newspaper: computer circulars, entertainment items, sporting goods, etc. I am more likely to give these a little more time than online flyers, and I may notice sale items I had not actively been looking for. Granted, I’m middle-aged and grew up reading paper-based flyers. Younger folk may approach this differently.

4. Smartphones have tiny screens, so reading online flyers can be difficult: If I’m not in front of my computer, there’s almost no chance that I’ll look at a digital flyer. My smartphone screen is too small, and the browser is too slow to make viewing an online flyer pleasurable. And, I like the spontaneity of a paper-based flyer. I can glance at it, put it down, and pick it up later. Tablets may change this over time, although I think notebook computers and netbook computers (or anything else that doesn’t give instant access to a web browser of sufficient, comfortable reading size) won’t compete with paper-based advertising when I’m not actively searching for information on a computer.

5. Mixed reviews: I’ve read in various marketing journals that mobile advertising is expanding its reach. However, I’ve also read in other marketing magazines and US Postal Service periodicals that print catalogs drive people to the Internet and that more people buy from Internet sites if they have also received and reviewed a print catalog. In other journals, I’ve even read that many people actually find the plethora of online ads distracting or irritating.

6. Online is eco-friendly, or is it: Online flyers are touted as an eco-friendly alternative to paper. Personally, I think the motive in embracing eco-friendly technology is laudable; however, I have also read that computer server farms consume a lot of energy created from fossil fuels. So maybe they’re not so eco-friendly. I’ve also read that more trees are planted by paper manufacturers than are harvested for making paper. Custom printing on paper ensures that timber lands remain timberlands and are not replaced with roads and buildings. Again, being eco-friendly is notable, but I think this is a more complex issue than it appears on the surface.

7. Printing and distributing paper flyers is expensive. Granted. There may well be an argument for targeting prospective clients more precisely; cleaning mailing lists; reducing print runs; using variable data information to make flyer printing a more targeted endeavor; and pairing print flyers with online media.

The Internet Is More of a “Pull” Medium

Aside from the “pop-up” ads that appear on your screen when you least expect them, the Internet is more of a “pull” medium, and print flyers are more of a “push” medium, to use current marketing parlance. Each has its place. If someone leaves a print flyer rolled up and shoved bewteen your doorknob and the door jamb, you will probably at least glance at it before you throw it away. Maybe it will get you thinking about the new surface coating your driveway needs. If you’re online looking for vendors who will resurface your driveway, the Internet is a good way to garner a huge amount of information (including product and service reviews) quickly. But if you’re not looking for such a vendor, and an online flyer on driveway resurfacing appears in your email inbox, chances are that you will just hit “delete.”

2 Responses to “Custom Printing: Print Flyers vs. Online Flyers”

  1. I want to say that this article is awesome.


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