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  • Writer's pictureJessica Lovejoy

The Global Paper Shortage—Strategic Solutions for Small Business

Global supply chain disruptions have caused a scarcity of computer chips for cars, a shortage of lumber for new construction, as well as paper and ink shortages. This is having a profound effect on businesses and organizations that rely on direct mail for marketing campaigns.

The fact remains that direct mail for small businesses is one of the most cost-effective advertising strategies available and finding ways to continue using this strategy in spite of the global paper shortage is critical for many.

What's Causing the Paper Shortage?

It is important to remember that paper is a commodity so prices fluctuate, and that's perfectly normal. However, in the foreseeable future, fluctuations in price are expected to be a lot more extreme due to a number of different factors:

  • The COVID drop in demand, followed by the huge post-COVID surge in demand

  • A shortage of raw materials, like chemicals and wood pulp

  • COVID-related workforce issues creating temporary plant closures

  • Bankruptcies that lead to permanent paper plant closures

In addition, the increasing prevalence of online shopping has affected the global supply of paper in two ways.

The Demand for Cardboard Boxes

Many paper mills have switched from making traditional paper to producing cardboard packaging for online commerce. The demand for these boxes is so high that paper mills are now producing them instead of paper, inadvertently contributing to the paper shortage.

Companies like International Paper are repurposing entire mills to produce corrugated shipping boxes used by companies like Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers.

Bottlenecks in Transportation

Secondly, the increased demand for shipping in general has created bottlenecks in transportation as trucking companies struggle to hire more drivers. This has made transportation costs skyrocket.

Shipping overseas has also become pricey. Ports are clogged with containerships unable to unload their cargo because of the labor shortage.

This has prompted a steep decrease in the amount of international paper stocks that are imported into the United States and is therefore exacerbating the supply chain shortages.

To make the situation worse, there is an ink shortage caused by the changes in environmental policy in China that has led to a large number of plant closures in that country.

Small Businesses Affected by the Global Paper Shortage

The shortage is worrisome for a number of businesses that count on direct mail to get customers through their doors.

This is especially true for those that depend on targeted direct mail as a primary way to reach customers, but it's also the case for those who use it as a secondary or tertiary approach to reaching new customers.

Accountants. Accounting firms have traditionally benefited by using direct mail campaigns and today's modern audience, such as Etsy shop owners and independent contractors, typically respond very well to direct mail advertising.

In fact, a study by the United States Post Office found that millennials are more likely than Gen Xers or even Baby Boomers to take action when they receive marketing mail and will sometimes visit your website after learning about you.

Using online advertising exclusively means you miss a large chunk of business, so later in this article, we'll discuss how we keep your direct mail marketing campaign going in spite of worldwide paper shortages.

Attorneys. It's been proven time and again that direct mail for attorneys is very effective when objective measures like response rate and ROI are taken into consideration.

Your law firm can see what works and what doesn’t by tracking the number of responses you receive from each type of campaign you run, whether it’s a brochure mailing or a postcard.

We realize that it is important to stay in front of your clients (and in their mailboxes), so we'll help you with a direct mail solution even in the midst of the current global paper shortage.

Banking and Mortgage companies. Nothing beats direct mail advertising for banking and mortgage companies.

If you're offering an incentive for people to switch to your bank or take out a mortgage on their home but don't have the budget for an expensive advertising campaign, direct mail is the perfect solution because it allows you to reach a specific number of individuals in a certain demographic and location with a targeted message.

The fact is that direct mail for small businesses works for many types of ventures, from political campaigns to real estate and much more.

We know your direct mail campaign is crucial to your success, so our goal is to ensure that the paper shortage has little to no effect on your ability to reach your customers. Here's an explainer on how we do it.

How We’ll Ensure the Success of Your Direct Mail Marketing Throughout the Paper Shortage Crisis

Some printing companies have attempted to fight the paper shortage by stockpiling which has, in turn, caused mills to ration the amount of paper that can be purchased.

For instance, merchants and paper mills sometimes allocate customers to the amount of paper that they have historically purchased every six months. The result of this is many marketing companies (and a lot of our competitors) have to plan direct mail campaigns very strategically and may not meet deadlines.

They're also unable or unwilling to take on new clients because they simply can't acquire the necessary amount of paper. Depending on the type of paper, some marketers are having to wait as long as two to four months to secure a paper order.

We are the Solution

At Key Dynamics, our core competency is direct mail advertising, which means we've always purchased large volumes of paper, and we're not tied to any one supplier.

We welcome new clients and look forward to maintaining long-standing relationships with our existing customers. We will work with our robust network of suppliers to get all the paper you need for your campaign, so your advertising plan won't be disrupted no matter how long the supply chain shortages last.


Are you ready to take your direct mail marketing to the next level? Reach out and receive a sample of our campaigns, along with an estimated prospect database that your company could expect to reach on a monthly basis. On average, our direct mail campaigns bring a 3-5% call return rate.

At Key Dynamics, we welcome any feedback, advice, or business consultation our clients may have. Our dedicated team is always available to answer any questions you may have. Drop us a line: or give us a call today at (888) 855-0402.

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