Interview with digital marketer and author Francene Mullings

Francene Mullings is a Google certified web marketing professional with over 10 years of experience helping organisations to thrive online. She is the author of The Practical Digital Marketing Planner® and various other guides that enable her students to overcome digital overwhelm.

Francene is passionate about upskilling local companies and charities to readily bridge their digital skills gap to increase their reach and impact around them. 

What’s your career background?

My first career was a NHS Radiographer, where I started my first job at Barts NHS Trust back in 2007. I later specialised as a breast cancer care radiographer. It’s during this time that I also honed my craft as a digital marketer working during the evenings on various tech projects for my clients.

How did your career change after having children?

In 2012, while on maternity leave, I started to teach digital skills online to business owners. I later wrote a digital marketing planner, workbook and guide to help my clients navigate the digital overwhelm. It was great to have the option to scale down from the inflexible world of conventional employment.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

In 2014, I started to run free digital marketing workshops in Morden my local area. To my surprise, I found a complete demographic of community heroes who needed to quickly bridge their digital skills gap and reach a wider local audience.

That’s when I focused on making digital transformation a priority at the heart of the community. Currently, my goal for 2020 is to upskill 2000 local businesses, charities and adult education centres on how to increase their reach and impact online.

What’s your USP?

We are leveraging under-utilised community spaces such as libraries to bridge the digital skills gap among local organisations. These safe spaces increase access and uptake to digital skills training as we’ve seen over the last year.

Who’s your target audience?

Digitalise, the digital skills training company up-skill the most deserving charities, social enterprises and smaller companies who are the driving force at the heart of the local community.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

We utilise social media to a great degree, although most of our training is through organisations that market directly to the end-user. Once we can demonstrate how the system works, forward-thinking Library staff and those in the local council welcome the move to help their residents.

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

Social media marketing, particular LinkedIn, has been instrumental in growing relevant connections and becoming thought leaders in the Digital Skills space. By amplifying our voices, Digitalise became one of the solutions to the Digital skills gap crisis around us.

And your proudest moment so far?

In November 2018, Digitalise was contracted by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to offer digital skills training to local companies. Located in Fulham library, we worked with people from all types of local organisations which represented the force for good behind the local economy, and who drives many positive social and environmental changes.

We helped individuals who work in their businesses up to 80 hours a week and wouldn’t otherwise have the capacity to access digital skills support. Some run essential community charities and trust their local library wouldn’t demand money they didn’t have. Then others are passionate about setting up social enterprises to tackle pressing issues like food waste and to run local sustainability projects.

I am incredibly proud to witness the boost in clarity and confidence of these individuals who attend the digital skills training sessions. Equally, the feedback is almost 100% positive and has served to validate the vision to tackle the digital skills problem from the heart of the local community.

Why is work so important to you?

Fundamentally, the opportunity to make an impact that provides both economic and social change is why I embarked on entrepreneurship. I also wanted to be creative and work on a project that will impact generations to come.

How do you balance your work with your family?

I wasn’t always organised but have learnt to become better over the years. Now I plan my day around the essential tasks, so I avoid feeling rushed or unprepared. I live by the quote that states: “What gets scheduled gets done.” Michael Hyatt

Growing a business with a young family of two boys aged seven and two isn’t without its turbulence. It’s easy to slip into anxiety, so I must practise mindfulness. It hasn’t always been this way, but over time, you reach the point when you have to choose to function as a mother, wife and quite frankly a sane business person.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Take control of your learning journey by leveraging online platforms such as Udemy and khan academy.
  2. Find yourself a mentor to overcome the hurdles and to lessen learning curves.
  3. Finally, be innovative and think outside the box, which generally leads you to identify gaps you could champion.

You can find out more about Francene on her website.