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Technology is infiltrating every aspect of our lives - from the cars we drive (or that drive us), what we eat, the media we consume, and the new threat of our jobs being replaced by machines.

When the world around you is adapting and evolving at such a breakneck speed, it is easy to feel as though you are stuck in a rut and getting left behind.

Case in point – marketing and advertising, which has seen a massive shift over the past two decades with the rise of new technologies. Simply taking out an ad in a newspaper, setting up a Facebook page, or printing out a few dozen posters to promote your business is no longer enough to stand out from the crowd.

Gone are the days of one-sided messages from big brands with big promises, and little fear of criticism from the public. Today, consumers are more aware, more savvy, and less tolerant of being sold to.

The vast majority is online and active on social media, a significant game-changer that levels the playing field by giving everyone a voice, and an opportunity to either support or challenge a brand or an idea. A brand faux pas can go viral in minutes, and your stellar Facebook post can get suppressed by an algorithm, and barely see the light of day.

The rise of social media influencers – bloggers, photographers and celebrities who are paid by brands to promote their products in their own ‘authentic’ way – means that marketing messages are no longer limited to brands’ own channels. Don’t follow Shoe Brand X on Instagram? Doesn’t matter – your favourite landscape photographer is sporting a pair in his latest post.

And fake news is one thing – but fake reviews is another. So, who do you trust?

Simply put – it’s a minefield out there. Particularly for marketing professionals and small business owners looking to differentiate their product or service, connect with the right audience, and stand out in this rapidly-changing landscape.

Successful digital marketing needs to work even harder than it did in the past, and businesses looking to make an impact need to consider myriad factors – from data to contextual relevance, personalisation to true engagement with the customer.

Having a degree or diploma at the start of your career is no longer enough – particularly if you want to make continuous leaps up the career ladder, let alone survive the ‘rise of machines’. Things change so quickly, that staying on top of trends and adding new skills to your CV must become one of your priorities.

When it comes to choosing how best to boost your career prospects, you have two options.

If you simply want to expand your knowledge base, there are plentiful free resources online. However, if you want to gain meaningful value, it can initially be difficult to determine where to find reliable, trustworthy sources that ensure you gain real, relevant skills.

If you are looking for a credible, career-boosting signal on your CV, then you should go the more formal route of an online course with an accredited institution.

If you choose correctly, the upside is the ease and simplicity of a learning opportunity that has been curated to equip you with industry-relevant value and future-proofing skills.

But where do you start? You should base your decision on which educational provider ranks highest on four key factors:

• Industry alignment and focus on future-proofing
• Relevance to the South African context, while factoring in global trends
• Credible expertise in your subject of choice
• A proven track record of the impact their courses have had on driving career success

For example, if this article has inspired you to up your (digital marketing) game, then Red & Yellow Creative School of Business would be an excellent start. Their eMarketing textbook, which is now in its 6th edition, is based on real industry experience and used by universities around the world. This led to Red & Yellow developing their highly respected flagship Digital Marketing: Intermediate online course.

In response to other market needs, their online courses have also been expanded to cater for everyone from absolute beginners in the digital marketing sphere, and people intending to specialise in areas such as copywriting and SEO.

Interested? Take a look at www.redandyellow.co.za to get started.

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