How to Pivot Your Print Marketing Plan in Response to the Global Paper Shortage

Companies with upcoming print marketing plans and direct mail campaigns should consider pivoting their strategies to ensure they don’t miss out on deadlines or new customers.  

What Is the Global Paper Shortage? 

The global paper shortage is primarily the aftermath of several paper mills switching machinery from coated and uncoated paper production to packaging materials during the pandemic. Because of this, thousands of printing companies around the nation are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain paper stock inventories which in turn is not allowing them to take on jobs.  

The increased demand for packaging grades, especially with the rise in online shopping, has required these paper mill companies to transform their product lines from printing paper grades to packaging paper grades which can take several years to finish. We believe this change in papermaking will most likely remain moving forward.   

Another key challenge facing the printing industry is labor shortages and strikes occurring overseas. However, as a positive, the strike at UPM Paper Mills, which distributes a significant amount of paper into the printing industry, has ended after almost four months. The end of this strike should help alleviate some of the tension and increase the influx of paper into the print industry. 

What Are the Main Factors Companies Should Consider? 

Paper Shortage 

  • Expect to face limited inventory and longer lead times when working with commercial print providers around the nation.  
  • Solo Printing currently maintains a large supply of web and sheet-fed paper and are striving to find alternative stocks, if necessary, to ensure availability for our current and potential partners. 

Paper Type Replacements 

  • We urge companies to be flexible with paper finishes and weights. Your commercial print provider will most likely suggest a similar paper type that can work for your project if the original paper type you selected is low on inventory or unavailable.  

Shipping / Freight Delays  

  • Preplanning your print project is key to avoiding missed deadlines and ensuring you have access to the best paper for your project. Companies should expect and preplan to avoid a delay on their projects caused by shipping/freight delays. 

Postage Rate Increases 

  • At the end of 2021, the U.S Postal Service increased rates and prices on Priority Mail and other shipping services. Please take this into consideration when planning your mailing budget. Below we will review the six major changes that took place.  

More Information on Postage Rate Increases 

Below we will highlight some of the major changes that took place. 

Increases in shipping rates will take effect on January 9, 2022, for the following services: Priority Mail®, Priority Mail Express®, First-Class™ Package Service, Parcel Select®, Parcel Return® Service, and USPS® Retail Ground. See below for pricing details: 

  • Priority Mail Express: +3.1% 
  • Priority Mail: +3.1% 
  • First-Class Package Service: +8.8% 
  • Parcel Select: +5.5% 
  • Parcel Return Service: +4.9% 
  • USPS Retail Ground: -7.4% (decreased!) 

What USPS Recommends 

For businesses interested in sending direct mail, the lowest postage prices can be found by saturating a zip code and mailing a flier to everyone on a mail route. This is known as Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).   

(Postage Rate Data Sources: Quadient, United States Postal Service). 

Preplanning your print projects is key to avoiding missed deadlines and ensuring you have access to the best paper for your project. Companies should expect, budget, and preplan for an increase in shipping costs and slight delays on their projects. 

Why Should Companies Continue To Use Print Marketing Despite The Global Paper Shortage? 

Print marketing collateral is lucrative and necessary for businesses looking to target specific demographics, improve customer retention, and leave lasting impressions on new prospects. 

For some companies, print marketing collateral is vital to their marketing strategy. Whether it be theme-park maps, inserts, retail catalogs, or direct mail campaigns, businesses creating their print marketing strategy need to keep budget, paper, and project timeline top of mind. 

Statistically, the pros and benefits of using print marketing for business outweigh the cons of the issues that have arisen recently. 

Print marketing helps businesses (big or small). Here’s how:  

  • Raises awareness of your brand  
  • Drives new leads to your business (in-store or online)  
  • Promotes the sales of both new and existing products (or services)  
  • Introduce a new product or service to the market  
  • Helps to differentiate your product from your competitors’ 

Print Statistics You Should Know: 

  • The direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2% online display, .4% social media).  (DMA)  
  • 79% of consumers find reading physical mail more convenient than reading emails.  
  • Letter-sized direct mail performs best for lead generation with 15.1% response rate. (DMA)  
  • 82% of consumers trust print ads most when making a purchasing decision (Burstein, 2017)  
  • 77% of consumers say print drives higher levels of recall.  
  • Over 90% of consumers say that print ads are easier to read than digital. 
  • Physical Print ads require 21% less cognitive effort to read, process, and remember than digital ads. (R.C. Brayshaw, 2020)  
  • Digital Ad blockers are used by 33% of Millennials as of 2019. On the other hand, 62% of people will read paper ads rather than throw them away. 
Source: Unsplash

How to Pivot Your Print Marketing Plan 

Preplan Your Print Projects 

The main steps in creating a print marketing strategy are developing a target audience, campaign timeline, and attractive design.  

The next essential steps are selecting the paper finish and weight, quantity, and postage options, if mailing, that work best for your project.  

In order to have a smooth experience during a difficult time, the best way to avoid any issues is to begin preplanning your projects months in advance and being flexible on materials used. By preplanning, you are more likely to ensure that you’re able to have the right paper for your project as well as avoid any delays in the turnaround time and send out of your project.  

When beginning to preplan your print campaign project: 
Ask yourself…

  1. How many pieces do you need printed?   
  2. What budget do you have for printing?   
  3. Are you going to be printing and mailing?   
  4. What type of product would you like printed?
  5. What’s your deadline?  
  6. What paper stock do you want to use for your project?
  7. If printing a booklet, would you want it to be saddle-stitched or perfect bound?
  8. If you’re mailing, do you have your own demographic data list or will you need to gain access to one that fits your needs? 

Be Flexible with Paper Finishes/Weights 

You must expect to face limited inventory when working with commercial print providers around the nation. 

Because of this, we urge companies to be flexible with paper finishes and weights. Your commercial print provider will most likely suggest a similar paper type that can work for your project if the original paper type you selected is low on inventory. 

For example: 

When modifying paper weight, you can consider:
Replacing 100 lb text with 80 lb text. 
Replacing 80 lb text with 70lb or 60 lb text. 

When modifying paper finish, you can consider: 
Switching gloss to dull/matte and vice cersa depending on the paper weight available. 

To understand more about paper stocks and paper weights, read our blog: 

Combine Digital Marketing with Direct Mail Efforts 

By combining print and digital ads, it will make online campaigns 400% more effective (Top Media Advertising) Partnering the power of direct mail with an aligned marketing strategy, an omnichannel campaign will allow your marketing team to increase your company’s ROI by growing your brand visibility and attracting new prospects across all their personal devices. 

SP Direct is Solo Printing’s direct mail digital integration platform that will provide our partners with the ability to pair standalone marketing services with their direct mail campaigns. 

By pairing your direct mail campaign with our digital marketing efforts, your business can better track the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns. This combination provides solutions for the challenges that center around direct mail as an offline marketing channel. And it increases the results of direct mail campaigns by 23-46%! 

All of this is done by integrating digital platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram with your direct mail campaign and target audience. 

Want to learn more? Contact us using the form below. 

Solo Printing is a provider of superior color lithography and is one of the nation’s largest minority-owned companies, servicing the United States and the Caribbean. From state-of-the-art prepress to the finest web and sheet-fed printing, Solo is well equipped to meet your printing needs. 

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