How to combat the paper shortage

You may be aware that the print industry is facing a bit of a paper shortage at the moment. Increased demand for sustainable forestry products as a substitute for plastics is putting more pressure on a supply chains, supply chains weakened by strikes and logistical challenges. The result is a perfect storm that is causing longer lead times, higher prices, and instability in the direct mail industry.

So what can be done to minimalise the impact of what’s going on?

Plan ahead

The first approach is good old-fashioned planning ahead as much as you can.  Shortage of supply is causing lead times to increase massively, for example, a standard lead time for 500,000 envelopes this time last year would be around 10-15 working days. Current lead times are around 60 days!

As most companies’ peak trading period starts around September there’s a 100% nailed-on, no doubt chance that this issue will only get greater as we reach the pinch-point between September and November. The good news, at the time of writing this in May, is that there is time to get those campaigns planned in to make sure your key campaign deadlines are met and there’s plenty of time to profile and segment target data, review and improve formats to make this years campaign better than ever. This is definitely not a time to procrastinate and delay, don’t leave it until August or September to start planning your campaigns, you will be disappointed.


The other approach is to completely review your approach to this year’s campaigns. An enforced change like this creates the perfect opportunity to look at what’s working and what isn’t, really analyse your customer base to find the segments that react brilliantly to being contacted, and freshen up your approach.

For example, if you currently mail around 1 million items for your winter campaign that covers all of your customers who have been active in the preceding twelve months, it’s very likely that’s not going to be the most effective approach to give you the best return for every £1 invested. The paper shortage will mean you may have issues getting hold of material and raw material is around 40-50% more expensive than at the same time last year.

The ideal approach is to start with the outcome you’re looking to achieve and work back from that. With a fresh approach you can review your data, targeting, CTA’s, formats, delivery method, campaign timings and we’re happy to sit down to brainstorm this with you. 

Need some help?

Thanks to having over 25 years of experience in offline marketing, we have built up extensive knowledge and expertise that are very useful for navigating big challenges like this paper shortage. Our team can help you plan ahead and rethink your offline marketing to minimise costs, account for longer lead teams, and optimise activity to boost ROI.

Contact our team today to see how we can help you.

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