In January 2015, I promised the Social Publishing Project (SPP) team that we would take two years to devise a ‘fit-for-purpose’ digital service to complement our hard copy Quids in! product. This was not about dragging our feet or being Luddites, rejecting new technology. It was about staying true to our mission to support people on low incomes to manage their money.
We were clear: Whatever we came up with needed to reach an audience that needed money advice that wasn’t well-catered for elsewhere. We believed any cost-savings from moving Quids in! online were worthless if it failed to make the same type of social impact. And we had to know the offer was sustainable for us while meeting the needs of paying customers and readers.
Beyond its distribution method, Quids in! was both familiar and accessible to readers. It looks nothing like any Money Advice Service or any other publicly funded project's materials. It emulates the weekend supplements of tabloid newspapers and the likes of Take a Break magazine. It borrows tricks from behavioural psychology and nudge theory and achieves responses like 33 per cent of readers becoming more mindful of their finances, 18 per cent thinking twice before taking a high interest loan and many recognising problems they hadn’t been aware of (18%), deciding to take action (8%) and, more importantly, taking action (6%).
So back at the start of 2015 when I was thinking ahead to a digital version to carry this work forward, all I knew was that replicating these successes would not be achieved by through emailing a PDF of the latest Quids in!.
Our sales team, who really are less about sales and more about building partnerships, have been incredibly patient with me. More and more landlords have moved their comms to digital and it’s the direction of travel for local authorities and many support agencies. And while I think there’s an ongoing need for paper and a product that hangs around in the real world, waiting for the opportunity to trigger some good financial decision-making among the poorest and digitally excluded, we finally have something exciting to announce about our new digital offer.
Research suggests, it will reach a slightly more affluent audience. Still catering for lower income readers, however, we expect the e-News to engage communities the Money Advice Service describes as ‘squeezed’ (aka ‘Just About Managing, if you’re Theresa May). Meanwhile, the magazine will continue to engage a big chunk of MAS-defined ‘struggling’ households, itself encouraging more of these readers to venture online.
What the Quids In Readers Club loses in real-world presence, it makes up for in frequency, being published monthly (to start). What it lacks in commercial returns, it will make up for through close working with providers who recognise a need to support tenants to manage their money, sometimes to sustain tenancies. We aim to achieve volume reach by publishing via email to tenants in bulk, whether by licencing output to landlords or fulfilling comms on their behalf. Members will access a web-version of Quids in! magazine containing interactive links to advice, support and offers, as well as member-only content on quidsinmagazine.com.