As I write this piece, Donald J. Trump is being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

TrumpAs The Donald takes office, questions and concerns both real and imagined are running rampant. By the time you read this, I will have no way of knowing what already has occurred. New legislation? New executive orders and appointments? New healthcare? New fights between Democrats and Republicans? Republican and Republican?

The ancient Chinese “curse” also attributed to Joseph Chamberlain of the late 19th century goes something like, “May you live in interesting times.” So is this a blessing or a curse? I don’t know, but we certainly do live in interesting times.

I recently read an article by Newt Gingrich about Donald Trump. In it, he documented how he won with fascinating, strategic use of social media. Trump would tweet in the morning and have the media scrambling to retweet and talk about whatever gem was tweeted. Millions of dollars of a free press were the result of a morning “controversial” tweet. By noon, Trump was tweeting where a rally that afternoon was being held, and millions of his supporters would retweet and show up. Again, the press would pick it up as a newsworthy bit of information and spread the word.

It was a fascinating analysis of how the Trump campaign used social media to win the election. Social media has certainly been used by other campaigns but perhaps never better than in this election. You may not like what was said, but it certainly made the news.

I can say that by the time you read this, the world will have changed. Trump will be our “45,” and I am certain that he will continue to tweet with great regularity.

Don’t Take the Safe Path

So what does all this have to do with retail? From a political standpoint, it could mean a lot as the promise of shaking things up comes to fruition. Tax and regulation modifications will certainly affect us. But that is not what I want to talk about.

You may like him, hate him or be ambivalent toward Donald Trump, but you have to give him credit: He knows how to market himself. He has shown time and again the ability to stay in the news and, frankly, lead the news.

How can we learn from this? How can we liven up our brand, our marketing, and our social media to be more relevant and more top of mind for our customers and potential customers? I think we often take the safe way when we look at our brand, marketing, and social media approach. We constantly look in our rearview mirror and see what others have done, then settle for an average approach rather than challenging ourselves to be a bit of a maverick and shake things up.

Fuel City recently opened in Fort Worth, Texas. I believe this is its third location. The fascinating thing is the amount of free publicity the company has received. (I guess that includes this article.)

The company positioned itself as a relevant brand that was going to bring low gas prices and to-die-for street tacos to Fort Worth. My whole office has been there multiple times to “experience” Fuel City, and I can tell you that it is now a lunch destination for the millennials in my office, both men and women. There are probably 10 to 15 lunch choices between our office and Fuel City for tacos, but the company has created a brand and a product that make people go out of their way to experience it. So we pass by those other places to hit up Fuel City.

Marketing Mastery

The takeaway for me was that Fuel City was in the local paper as a story both for its food and its low prices; on the news as a story; and planted in the local culture as a “gotta try this” food offering, and even in a local restaurant column as “the hot new place to go.” The store has been tweeted, Facebooked and Instagrammed until you can’t ignore it.

Fuel City took a chapter out of Donald Trump’s marketing 101 and sought out new ways to get exposure. And it worked.

By the way, Paragon did not design the store or the brand for Fuel City. That doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what the company has done and be fans of the store. We are. We are fans of good design, good marketing, and good food. Check, check and check.

The world is changing. Are you changing along with it?