How to Combat the Paper Shortage

With a Combination of Direct & Digital Marketing (and the Right Partner)

Maybe you’ve heard about the paper shortage, or maybe you’ve experienced it first-hand. Either way, it’s something you should know about, as it’s seemingly becoming a bigger issue in our field day by day. But, before we sound all doom and gloom, we do have good news. Although it’s a current issue we’re facing, there are ways to combat it and work around it. In this blog, we’ll walk you through what exactly is causing the shortage, what it means for us (and you), and how we all can continue business as (almost) usual.

What’s Happening with the Paper Shortage?

So, what’s really going on? Well, there are many shortages going on right now – primarily due to all of the craziness that’s ensued over the past few years. The pandemic has been the primary factor in most shortages, from toilet paper to manufacturing products, and everything in between. Something else that’s suffering? Lumber, and in turn – you guessed it – paper.

Back in 2020, the demand for paper dropped by “up to 75% in some segments” due to drops in education and office space usage. Because of this, “paper mills reduced or curtailed production…which caused inventory to drop to levels which have not been seen previously.”

More recently, there’s been a “convergence of Canadian lumber tariffs, increase in demand for home remodeling and building of homes brought on by the pandemic, and hiccups in supply related to transportation.” From home projects to home purchases, we’re now using a lot of wood. More wood demand has called for changes in processes for these previously idle lumber suppliers, which has slowed production – and even worse, transporters impacted by Covid-19 risks has made for fewer available drivers to carry out shipments from mills and shipping ports.

Generally, one thing has led to another, causing a domino effect that’s triggered lumber prices to skyrocket, and has disrupted several industries.

What Does This Mean for Marketers & Print Projects

Yes, the paper shortage is concerning, but it doesn’t make print and direct mail marketing impossible or any less effective. With that said, don’t go overboard. Be aware of the materials you’re using and try to keep a close eye on the balance of supply and demand. While the lack of resources is a hurdle, the shortages are actually giving printers and marketers an opportunity to get creative with project execution by combining print with digital and trying new outreach possibilities.

How Can We Combat the Shortage?

There are several ways to work around the current hurdles we’re facing. The first? Using more digital technology wherever possible (and effective) – like QR codes, for example – to cut back on the paper needed to communicate a message or tell a story. Not only can QR codes and PURLs, or other tools help you use less paper, but they can help you more effectively track, monitor, and enhance your campaign. You can also try supplementing your multiple direct mail touches with other tools like digital ads and emails. A multichannel approach is always more impactful than a single channel, anyway.

Next, look into making your mailers, flyers, and other print marketing materials more cost effective by using a smaller paper weight, or stand out in the mail with a smaller but more uniquely shaped piece.

Lastly, look to work with a company with paper buying power and ample experience. They’ll be aware of the current issues, and will understand what’s best for your company’s marketing needs.

Reach Out

When it comes to shortages of any kind, remember to be patient and plan ahead. The paper shortage most likely won’t be around forever, but the more flexible you can be, the more you can mitigate the issue. After reading this, we hope you’re feeling a bit more knowledgeable of the current shortage as well as what you can do to combat it. If you’re interested in learning more about how Strata’s working through the shortage with our client (and on our personal projects), or are looking to work with us on your next multichannel marketing campaign, feel free to reach out.

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