Q: How has the world of paper changed?
A: The shift to digital marketing has been impacting print paper production for years.
The shift to digital marketing has been impacting print paper production for years. Then along came the pandemic, and things got lots worse.
The ripple effect has not only been felt in the paper industry. The shortage has also put pressure on companies like catalogue producers and nonprofits and businesses that rely on print collaterals and direct mail to build their customer and subscriber bases.
A Shortage That Could Not Meet Demand
The closure and consolidation of U.S. paper mills during the pandemic was at the core of the shortage.
The retooling of many remaining mills to produce corrugated cardboard to meet a world gone Amazon also became a factor. Both resulted in limited paper availability.
Supply chain woes and a need to rely on international suppliers became the third part of the problem. Prices skyrocketed—in some cases as much as 30%–pressuring end user budgets, especially because paper is 50% of the cost of any print project.
And for Ballantine and agencies like us who serve paper/print reliant clients, it has meant reorienting our thinking and our planning to effectively serve our clients during these changing, albeit difficult, times.
Here are some important points everyone must consider if they need to produce a print project:
- Plan Ahead – Evaluate your paper requirements so you can be ahead of the game. This gives you lead time to look for supply sources—and those sources the time they need to get product to you.
- Communicate With Your Customers – Transparency and clear communication helps to set expectations and sustain relationships. We’ve found that customers are understanding once they clearly become aware of both the industry challenges and specific issues affecting their product requirements. Communicating early and often pays off!
- Manage Your Paper Orders – Track your shipments and communicate with your suppliers often. Sometimes you can prevent bottlenecks before they happen. Sometimes you can’t. But knowing the worst-case scenario gives you some time to seek out an alternative solution. At the very least, you can inform your customer early on in lieu of delivering a surprise bad message last minute.
- Be Flexible – The availability of certain papers and formats will be limited. Accept that. Be ready to seek alternatives.
There are never easy solutions to trying situations. But expecting and accepting that timeframes will be longer and prices higher is the way that all of us need to think and operate right now.
It’s wise to have a partner to help you navigate in the current environment.
We will always try to move mountains for our customers—or strive to find a workaround.
Call us to fulfill your print needs—especially now in these challenging times.