Technology is wonderful. It has unlocked our imaginations and creativity in ways we never thought possible. However, while technology has helped society progress in many ways, it will soon reach a point of being less of an assistance resource and will become our own competition.

In 10 to 20 years, 40% of professional roles will gradually become irrelevant as technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) get increasingly smarter and more human-like. So how can you shift yourself and your career to remain relevant in the changing workforce?

In this article we shine light on how creating a personal brand separate from a company’s will be crucial in standing out against the encumbering technology shift. We take you through four key steps to future-proof yourself in the evolving technology and AI workforce.

Brand yourself

Human work will never be fully replaced by technology. Instead, it will force employees to work in different ways. Where humans once stood at the forefront, technological changes could see us working alongside or behind the technology instead; controlling and monitoring it. Since the introduction of drones and robots, there has been talk that they will soon be used for fast food delivery and even mail delivery. While this would replace the need for people to personally deliver food, it would create more jobs in programming technology. On a more professional level, AI is being used as receptionists to book appointments and answer calls. While the mistakably human voice will replace the need for secretaries to answer phones, it could mean they will be required to take on new skills and tasks that AI is not yet able to do. With these impeding changes, it will become even more crucial for individuals to stand out and create a personal brand.

Tip: Think of the qualities you can offer that technology cannot replace. Adding skills such as adaptable, creative thinker, problem solver, strong communicator and interpersonal skills to your resume will exert a strong personal brand worth a company’s time and investment.

Collaborate

While technology already consumes numerous hours of the day, do not forget the significance of face-to-face communication, networking and collaborating in the workforce. Technology has the ability to hold hundreds and thousands of contacts but it is just that. A phonebook that will never replace the power of personal connections. Engage in these types of interactions to upskill, build connections and create your own black book of contacts.

Tip: Attend industry events, conferences and workshops to network and learn new things happening in the industry. 

Comparatively, collaboration does not always need to be face-to-face.

Tip: Join a credible online business hub or group that provide tutorials, workshops and expert assistance in the areas of business, finance, career, health and marketing. This will allow you to learn, grow and share from the comfort of your own desk. Change your mindset from competition to collaboration and as technology becomes smarter, the age old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ will be more important than ever.

Make your assets digital

Making yourself resilient to the technology advancements in the workforce does not mean becoming anti-technology. Instead, it’s imperative to be active and comfortable with technology platforms to increase your credibility and give you a competitive edge.

Tip: Complete credible short online courses to enhance your personal brand and professional portfolio.

This shows employers that you are proactive and willing to hone skills that may not be perfect or known as of yet. An employee that is willing to learn will be more valuable to a company than one that thinks they already know it all. A great way to showcase courses, skills and knowledge is to make your personal brand digital.

Tip: Use a website to showcase design, art or writing skills and make sure the homepage of the website tells employers exactly what you want them to know about you. It is also a great idea to have a tab with your resume to list courses and qualifications. Link your social media accounts to the website and carry the theme of your website through these mediums. Consistency makes a strong personal brand.

Create an impression through your appearance

The final step to creating a personal brand is to project it externally through a distinctive style and fashion. It is a known fact that people are more reactive to visual creative expressions. While technology such as robots and AI is extremely impressive, it does not generally get its ‘wow factor’ from its appearance.

Tip: Ensure your style strengthens your personal brand and exerts confidence and charisma. If you work in a corporate environment don’t opt for the classic black and white pant suit. Show that you are adaptable and creative by adding a colour that best represents you. Think of what you want to be remembered for in an interview. Will you be the person with red hair, the individual with exquisite glasses or will you be known for your statement jewellery? If you don’t yet know what your statement image is, undertake a personal styling session or look for inspiration from role models in your industry.


Scarlett Vespa, ‘The Brand Shifter’, is the Founder of the Mrs V personal brand transformation and the collaboration hub Mrs V Society. Scarlett’s passion is to empower executives, entrepreneurs and small business owners to ensure their career is successful and resilient in the workforce. She creates personal brands that reignite the passion and life that is lacking in an individual’s career.  For more information on Scarlett Vespa: www.mrsv.com.au.


After nearly 15 years in the exhibit and trade show industry, I created my company after a request for services from one of my clients. This was 25 years ago. Today, I stand at the helm of this, now, multimillion dollar enterprise. My mission is to meet all of the changing demands of exhibitors’ trade show needs in any venue. Positioned in the Washington D.C. area, I have uncovered how crucial rebranding can be for staying competitive in a market, whatever yours may be. The following three steps will guide you through that process.

1. Determine what your clients desire and how effectively you’re meeting that need

Your business exists not for you, but for who you serve. Additionally, it’s not as simple as you just providing a product or service to a customer. Ultimately, your company’s presence serves a greater need in an industry. For example, a rental car company serves their client’s need to get from point A to point B conveniently. Figure out what market desires propel your company.

Industries change, client needs change, and many other unexpected factors change — this is why rebranding becomes necessary. The first step in determining whether this is a move you need to make is to appraise how the demand for your services has evolved. What other tools are clients using? How have their service requests or orders changed over time? How have the complementary industries developed? These questions can help you paint a picture of small but significant elements to your market that you may be missing.

In the same vein, listen to what your clients are specifically requesting. This is especially true if they have had desires for services or products that you don’t presently offer. If you haven’t encountered any new client requests, don’t be afraid to ask. “What else could we offer you that we currently don’t,” or a simple, “what would make your team’s day easier that you currently don’t have” are powerful questions for you to pose to your clientele.

Industries change, client needs change, and many other unexpected factors change — this is why rebranding becomes necessary.

2. Assess how your competitors are serving the needs of your clients

In the same vein as step one, your product or service satisfies a demand of your customers but your competitors can achieve the same objective with a different offering. For example, ride-sharing apps help people get from place to place, and consequently can serve the same need as the aforementioned rental car company. What your competition is doing is just as important as what you’re doing.

How have your competitors’ offerings changed over time? Has any specific one poached customers from you more than others? If so, what are they providing that makes customers switch? Why do your loyal clients stay with you? Ask yourself as many questions like these as you can in order to drill down into where you stand in the industry against your competition. If the industry is changing while you aren’t, it’s a strong sign that changes on your part need to be made.

3. If it is appropriate, trust your gut and adjust your brand

If after evaluating the landscape of your industry it is apparent that you need to rebrand, then do it. Do not clutch to what you have hoping it will just work itself out. For my company, our clients are getting younger. I’m not. I can’t cling to what worked 25 years ago when I started the company. That being said, you can’t forgo the instincts that made you a successful leader from the start. Throughout any process as subjective as rebranding, use your gut.

Moreover, just as important as when to rebrand is when not to rebrand. Don’t do it as a strategy to fix another unrelated internal issue. Altering how you want to be perceived in the market can be unnecessarily disruptive with happy clients.

Ultimately, your brand should fit the needs of your clients and their respective industries. You are there to serve them. Use your clientele as the primary guide to adjusting your distinctive brand. Use your competition as a secondary guide, only to inform you of your clients’ needs. It should go without saying, but avoid becoming a facsimile of another company.


Just because your brand was effective when your business began, or even because it worked a year ago, it doesn’t mean it will work today. It’s your job as a leader to figure out how you can best service your clients. Rebranding can be a powerful tool to stay competitive in your market. Of course, this doesn’t mean changing your organization’s core values or unique identity. Exhibit Edge will always aim to provide incomparable personal service, integrity, and value for trade shows and corporate spaces, but that doesn’t rule out any necessary rebranding in order to better deliver that mission.

 

Bev Gray is the President and CEO of Exhibit Edge, a leader in the trade show industry. In 2004, Exhibit Edge received its Woman-Owned Certification by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, WBENC. Exhibit Edge prides itself on always moving forward and staying ahead of the curve while still maintaining exceptional customer care.


As someone who produces videos for a living, it still surprises me how often I come across people who are afraid of using video to help promote their business.

It surprises me for several reasons:

1. Video connects with people online

Given how effective video is for engaging an audience, retaining customers and generating leads, it just makes sense to be using it. Video enables you to build rapport and cut through the noise in our information intense environment in which we now live.

Businesses who use video are seen to be more engaged with their community. Buying decisions are easier and people feel more supported by your business. If in doubt of the effectiveness of video, check your Facebook feed. Video is dominating how people are connecting and communicating online.

2. Your competitors are using it

At some point you have to address the fact that even if you are trying to avoid using it, you will either work with it or walk away. Video is now the predominant way to engage with your customers. You can try to bury your head in the sand, but when everyone around you is using it you’ll just get trampled by those heading over to your competitors.

You are no longer ahead of the pack if you are using video, you are simply in the game.

3. Everyone can do it

Now I know that some people are saying “I look terrible on camera” or “I freeze when a lens is pointed in my direction”. Well that’s okay. You don’t have to be the focus of the video. In fact your customers should be the focus of the video. Any marketing you do should be about them.

Often to put first timers at ease I tell them, “Don’t worry if you do a terrible job, we won’t use it.” Surprisingly my little joke actually works. They realise you don’t have to nail it. It’s only video. If it’s not great, no one has to see it. They also relax and generally perform quite well.

4. Fear is not real (it just seems that way)

Trying to rationalise fear is like trying to say why I like blue. It’s not about logic, it’s emotional. But generally at the root of all fear is a lack of exposure and a lack of understanding. 95 % of things we worry about never happen.

But like anything, the more exposure you have to it, the more comfortable you become with it and the better you become at performing. So the only thing you should be afraid of in regards to video is not using it.

Dip your toe in the water. Accept that you will improve over time. Putting yourself outside your comfort zone is where real success occurs.

5. There’s plenty of options

There are dozens of different types of videos you can be using to promote your business, engage with your customers, answer frequently asked questions and generally support your business community. Standing in front of the camera is just one of them. So if that’s not your thing, relax. There are plenty of powerful ways to use video that’s not about you.

There’s animations, there’s case study videos (when you film your customers), there’s products overviews, you can use a voice over or an actor to speak on behalf of your organisation and many more ways to use video effectively without having to be in front of the camera.

6. Lots of ways to learn

There are plenty of courses online and live workshops that can help you master the skills in video production. It has never been more important to use this readily available technology on a regular basis. Thinking I don’t know what to do or how to do it, is no longer an excuse. You might be surprised once you look into it, that’s its actually not that hard.

In fact, I’ve written a book “Shoot Me Now -making videos to boost business” which takes you through what you need to know to make impressive videos. Feel free to get in touch and I’ll send you a free copy.

Follow Geoff Anderson on Twitter @geoffsonic for more tips on how to use video to improve engagement with your customers.


Videos are the best way to engage with your audience in today’s online world. It has never been easier to create videos and share them to the world, and, specifically, to your audience.

Businesses who use video are perceived to be more engaged with their audience – it’s a short cut to building rapport with your current and prospective customers.

But how do you get into the habit of being a prolific video creator? Here are 5 ways to easily generate video content to enhance your brand.

1. Make it easy and replicable

Firstly,  you need an easy process for creating videos. The more complicated you make this, the more of a burden it will become, and the less likely it will be that you will bother.  It needs to be easy to set up and quick to do.

Unless you have a spare few thousands of dollars lying around, make use of the surprisingly effective recording device you carry around with you – your mobile phone.  With reasonable lighting conditions, your phone can produce quality videos with little fuss. You can pick up a simple stand for the phone or use a selfie stick (but don’t hold it – attach it to something).

2. Get the audio and vision right

You’ll be more inclined to share your videos if they look and sound okay. The first and essential item is a microphone. You can get a good quality phone lapel microphone for $50. Viewers will forgive poor vision, but not poor sound. Don’t rely on the inbuilt microphone. You will sound distant and amateur.

You should also find a spot that has some decent lighting. It can be sunshine, or just a well-lit room. Bouncing bright lights off a wall or the ceiling will soften the impact and diminish harsh shadows. But once again, keep it simple. The easier it is to do, the more likely it will be for you to maintain the momentum.

3. Streamline your systems

There are a few elements you can create once, and re-use for consistency and branding. For $5 on Fiverr.com, you can commission an animated logothat will immediately give your videos a professional look.

Keep any intros short – no more than 3 or 4 seconds. Your audience is there to be informed by your content, they shouldn’t have to endure a long opening that is just to promote your brand.

Also you can find royalty free music on YouTube and iTunes that you can use for your video openers.

4. Learn some new skills

Invest an hour or two in getting your head around the editing software that comes free with your computer. On a PC there is Movie Maker and iMovie is on a Mac. Editing is actually quite fun, although it does tend to take longer than you’d think.

As the business world embraces video production, you will need to be creating content to compete. It is worth taking a couple of hours to get your head around the software so you can easily create, edit and share videos for your audience.

If all else fails, find a secondary school kid (got any lying around the house?). They’ll be able to show you what to do!

5. Look out for topics to generate

You will have moments of creative proliferation. The ideas will come thick and fast and you will be able to record those videos easily.  Of course, there will be other times when you’re busy, tired and the ideas just aren’t flowing.  Keep looking for ideas.  Jot them down on a note in your phone so you can check in on topics when you are stuck.

You should also build up a library of content that you have in store to release during the busy periods. You can add them to your YouTube channel as unlisted files and then make them public at the appropriate time.

Video is not going to go away. It is here to stay and it is one of the most effective ways to connect and engage with your audience. The sooner you embrace the sooner you can benefit from its power.

You can check out some technical mistakes to avoid here

 

Featured image via Geoff Anderson

 

Geoff-800Geoff Anderson

Geoff Anderson is the Managing Director at Sonic Sight a Sydney based video production facility; author of Amazon Bestseller “Shoot Me Now – making videos to boost business” and a presenter on using video for business. He has been working in TV and Events production for over 20 years.  Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Whether you are aspiring to create a large or small business, it is essential to build your brand from the onset. Your brand immediately reflects to your potential customers who and what you are about, a form of identity. Therefore, when you put your brand out there, you better have a clear understanding of the market you are targeting, what appeals to them and how to reach them.

When my business partner Fiona Ericcson and I first started our business Sticks & Stones we both agreed that before actively marketing ourselves, we wanted to spend time on developing a strategically defined brand. In an industry such as ours (Landscape Design) we immediately recognised that there were many talented designers out there, but very few had an inviting, complementary website.

Considering we were in an industry of design, we both thought that was very interesting. So, we decided to use this to our advantage and ensure that our website, logo and image was a stand-out; a reflection of our talent and abilities. In return, we have found that clients and other designers in the industry have taken us more seriously. They instantly recognise that what we are offering is a clean, professional and contemporary design that comes from a reputable business. Then we took this brand and our business and proved it.

Below are 6 ways we think are necessary to help build your brand:

1. Define your brand

Before getting too excited, you need to start with the basics, such as defining what your brand is. It is important to review your product or service and understand the customers you will be targeting. Without understanding your market and customer base, you will not be able to connect your business with your target audience.

Sticks & Stones understood that the market we were targeting instantly were home-owners, aged around 30-50 years old and earning a decent salary, as landscape design is a luxury, not a necessity. This meant we needed to make our branding appealing to this target audience. Stylish and professional, but still approachable, is what we decided on. From here, we had a clear understanding of the direction we were heading with our brand.

2. Colour your brand

Something important to consider is the colour of your brand. Once this is chosen, it will be reflected across your website, business cards and logo. Sometimes it can be the difference between someone spending more time on your website, scrolling through your products and services, or leaving instantly.

Most people don’t realise, but colours and combinations can have a strong impact on your reaction. The Sticks & Stones colour scheme is a soft brown and deep soft green. Both of these colours blended well together and were a reflection of the materials we worked with, soil and plants.

3. Create a memorable logo

Following naturally behind your brand colour is the creation of your logo. The logo identifies a business by using a symbol, mark, or icon. It is not necessarily used to describe anything about your business, or what you do, (although sometimes that works well too) but it simply allows your customers to recognize your business. So, it is even more important to make the symbol or icon stand out, so your potential customer can recognize your logo instantly.

4. Develop a tagline

Create a short, captivating statement that encompasses your vision and brand. This allows your customer to understand what you are about and what you represent. At Sticks & Stones we used the statement, “Bringing the outdoors in.” It was a clean, simple and straightforward sentence that provided the potential customer with insight into the industry we are in.

5. Be consistent

Overall, it is very important to be consistent. This relates back to establishing the foundations of your brand. If you have consistency in your colour scheme, brand, the product and service you offer, then your customer will learn to recognise you as a reliable and referable source. Spending time on templates, your website, business cards and any other promotional products will ensure your brand is seamlessly consistent.

Although it feels overwhelming when you are starting out, working through the above process will ensure that you will have a strong and memorable brand identity; one that customers and clients will choose to refer time and time again.

And lastly?

6. Prove it

Now this should be the easy part. You know your business, you know your product. So work hard to provide a good product or service and people will hear about it. Word of mouth is one of the best methods to building a positive brand identity, so get your name out there. Market yourselves, get testimonials and enter industry competitions like we did to build up your profile and get your brand out there.

Fiona and I have the benefit of being female in a male dominated industry. Similar to Sass & Bide, we are recognised and remembered as the female duo in the landscape design industry. This has worked in our favour and we strive to uphold the brand we have created, through ourselves and our work. This is something our competitors cannot offer and as we are new, targeting and utilising our stand out strengths was very important.

Our focus on branding has paid off, as we become a more well known name in the industry. From networking events to joining industry associations, we have been provided opportunities we would not normally have access to. Recently we presented at a Landscape Forum on our business structure which provided us with further networking opportunities and led to additional jobs. We have also entered an industry competition to build a show garden at a major event in our industry – Grand Designs Live. We were successful and are still using the images we captured from the garden today! Spread the word about you and your brand. We were also noted as “Ones to watch” in popular magazine House & Garden’s ‘Women in Design’ special after being put forward by another networking contact. Every opportunity that has been presented to us, we have accepted. In doing so, we have more potential for our brand and name to be mentioned, spoken about and marketed.

Now it’s your turn!

How does your brand stand out from the crowd? Tell us in the comments below!

Julia-Profile-Pic_webJulia Thomas is a skilled Landscape Designer and one half of the duo behind Sydney-based landscape design business Sticks & Stones Landscape Design. She was recently featured in House & Garden as ‘Ones to Watch’ in Landscape Design. Julia also writes feature blogs for the online website Garden Drum.

 

Photo credit: Sticks & Stones


I love working in PR because it does and achieves wonderful things. When I receive feedback from a client that says: “Thank you for your advice, we put it into action and it went down a storm! We never thought we would accomplish what we did, thank you.” – Now that’s a priceless comment!

This company achieved a full page spread in their local newspaper based on our advice and input concerning media relations. Never before had they attempted this, believing they weren’t good enough, interesting enough or newsworthy.

They achieved what they deemed to be the unachievable and also received a huge dose of recognition and credibility – I love PR for having the power to do that.

How did they achieve this? They developed a story that was authentic and relevant to their audience.

PR should be authentic and relevant to your audience

Here I share with you 3 PR savvy tips to help you achieve the unachievable.

1. Be interesting

How can you make your story interesting but keep it authentic and rich with content that is relevant to your audience? Be honest with yourself, is the story you are contemplating interesting? Maybe you have a hero in your business who has achieved amazing things, or a product that makes your customers’ lives easier. Just think of the most gripping stories–they can be exciting, scary or enlightening, as long as they engage.

One of my clients didn’t think they had much to announce this month so we got talking about business and developments. It turned out they had achieved new business on national scale. From a provincial business they developed into a UK-wide business! We were able to develop a piece of communication around this to ensure the audiences they wanted to engage with knew about their capability and credibility nationally.

2. Be unique

Maybe you have a new service or product, or have achieved something unique to your industry. Maybe you are the only company in your industry to reach a particular milestone. Perhaps your recent new starter is unique – for example, the only male in a female environment? Maybe your product is the first of its kind off the production line. It isn’t good enough to create corporate fluff dressed up as a good story. Think about how you would want to read about yourself!

Only last week we identified a story that demonstrated my client’s business performance and innovation in their market with their investment in electric vehicles. This is a worthy piece of communication for my client as they are the first company in their sector to make this investment.

3. Be newsworthy

Putting aside scandal and conflict, which the media love to focus on, ask yourself: Is my story really news? Is it bang on trend, an opinion piece, or hard-hitting? Is it filled with human interest and local interest? Ensure it is timely, and by that I mean current. Your stories need to be fresh and relevant to the media channel you are engaging.  Success was easy when we worked with a high school who organised a school trip to England’s chocolate capital to experience making chocolate as well as learning about its history and heritage. No, it isn’t hard-hitting news, but it’s full of human interest, relevant to the geography of the school and let’s face it–who doesn’t like chocolate!

If you can identify a few of these PR nuggets, you’ll be achieving top quality PR results that will connect you to your audience, create more understanding about what you do, and develop your reputation. You’ll be loving PR just as much as me!

Colette Lowe is the Founder and owner of Chew PR. Colette has worked in PR for over 15 years. She has seen both sides and worked for consultancy and in-house teams providing her with an insight not many see. Colette will be contributing to the Public Relations section. She is based in Wakefield, England.

Photo credit: Cara Melody