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Martha Stewart Has Shown Us How To Stay Relevant In Business. Here’s What You Need To Know

Martha Stewart’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover photo has the world abuzz. The anti-ageism, pro-inclusivity and female empowerment message has been covered by just about everyone.

But there is another point worth making. Stewart, and other savvy businesswomen, are finding bold and creative ways to stay relevant, despite – or perhaps because of – their age.

Collaborate with People Outside Your Lane

While it’s important to establish your reputation, or that of your brand, among your target audience, it’s also important to establish yourself among adjacent and complementary audiences. Broadening your reach will serve to elevate your status as a thought leader and can undoubtedly help grow your business.

And, fortunately, Stewart just showed us how.

She is being lauded for her bravery and her “women of any age can do anything” message. And, SI can now add octogenarian to its diverse and inclusive list of pregnant, black, full-figured and trans models. While that is important, there is another story here.

Everyone, everywhere, is talking about Martha.

From Men’s Health to People, from the BBC to MSNBC and in every gym, office and living room, people are talking about Martha in the bathing suit. She has even inspired other famous names in vastly different industries, like real estate entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran, to recreate the now famous photo.

And this is not Stewart’s first bold move into an adjacent market. Take a look at her completely unexpected friendship with rapper Snoop Dogg. The two met on her podcast and have fostered a long-term relationship, becoming what Snoop describes as “best friends.”

I think the public has grown to almost expect Martha to keep surprising them with her curiosity and to learn along with her,” said Susan Magrino, Stewart’s longtime communications strategist. “She put a lens on so many topics by doing this shoot.”

Years ago, it was unlikely that rap music fans or the predominantly male Sports Illustrated audience knew who Martha Stewart was. Today they do.

Refresh Your Personal Brand

Your reputation, or personal brand, may be tied to the successes you’ve had in one particular industry, vertical or niche. It’s important to keep your brand fresh and that may mean looking for some “in the moment” collaborations or partnerships. In other words, give your personal brand, and your resume, a refresher.

Iris Apfel has done this well. The 101-year-old businesswoman and fashion icon finds ways to leverage her strengths and reputation but with younger, forward-thinking brands.

About a year ago she launched a true-to-herself, “more is more” collection with H&M – bright, patterned and eclectic. It sold out in days. She also partnered with a wearable technology company called Wisewear in an effort to make wearable technology more fashionable. Unsurprisingly, Apfel’s signature line of wearable technology was called The Socialite Collection.

Be an Early Adopter of a Trend

Aligning yourself early with a trend that is an integral part of the cultural zeitgeist is a surefire way to stay top of mind.

Granfluencers – 50 to 100-year-old influencers who target an older demographic or simply appeal to a younger one – are a great example. While many older people shied away from social media when it first became popular, granfluencers embraced it, mastered it and now make lucrative careers from it. According to Ad Age, some have millions of followers and big brand deals with the likes of Amazon and Hyundai.

94-year-old Helen Vanwinkle, known by her Instagram handle as @baddiewinkle, has 3.2 million followers and her profile describes her as “Stealing Ur Mans Since 1928.” Her wit and sass have helped her secure brand deals with Smirnoff Ice, MGM Resorts and Liquid Death.

“Get ready with me” is a hot trend on Tik Tok (usually with young 20-somethings) and Lillian Droniak knows it. The 93-year-old grandmother, known to her 9.2 million followers as Grandma Droniak, uses her humor to engage with her followers and has scored sponsored deals with brands like Supergoop and CVS.

And Stewart, with a little inspiration from Snoop, has also succeeded in finding cultural trends early. I interviewed her last year around the launch of her CBD wellness gummies. “I always like to think forward,” she said. “And CBD was becoming more and more popular, and I wanted to know all about it.”

We can’t all become granfluencers or business partners with Snoop Dogg. But having the foresight to see what social media and other technology trends (AI!) are coming down the pike and taking the time to learn them and understand their relevance to your customers, can have a meaningful impact on your business.

“There are so many new role models of people over 60 who are redefining what it means to live longer,” said Michael Clinton. The magazine publishing executive and author of the book Roar: into the second half of your life (before it’s too late) says we can all find inspiration from these women and, importantly, learn ways to stay relevant in our professional lives.

Jane Hanson, Bentley Lewis Advisor
Learn more about Bentley Lewis

*Original Article: ForbesWomen by Jane Hanson