Jason McCarthy (CEO) & Emily McCarthy (Head of Community) | Jacksonville Beach, Florida | Retail
Jason McCarthy, GORUCK | Jacksonville Beach, Florida
“At GORUCK, we principally do three things: We build stuff, we build communities, and we lead events,” Jason says. Jason initially thought traditional retail was the best way to get GORUCK’s product to market. He remembers driving to 48 different states trying to find stores to carry the products he designed. It was frustrating. And above all, it was incredibly inefficient. That’s why GORUCK transitioned to selling directly to customers over the web. The GORUCK team turned to G Suite to change the way it operated and relied on tools such as Google Docs to collaborate internally and Google Meet to stay connected with face-to-face communication. The company began using Google Ads and YouTube to speak directly to consumers.
This pre-crisis digital readiness also included use of websites (71%), and social media (72%), and a majority (64%) increased use of these tools during the crisis.
They also discovered the power of blogging as another way to communicate with and grow its customer base. “Community is everything for us,” Emily explains. “We have more than 350 ruck clubs across the country. These are autonomously led groups where members can get together and ruck together. (“Rucking” is the act of hiking or walking while wearing a weighted rucksack.) Social media has always been critical for the community and event sides of the business, and GORUCK has used many platforms over the years, including Instagram and Facebook, to get the word out, organize, and communicate.
But what happens to a community-focused business when human contact becomes difficult or impossible? “We used digital tools to not only sustain but actually grow the GORUCK community at a time when it should have been impossible to do so,” Jason says. GORUCK launched a podcast called “Glorious Professionals,” which featured everyone from epidemiologists to Green Berets discussing how to lead in difficult times. The company also began a new digital training program, which provided daily workouts for the rucking community.
Most SMBs (53%) also plan to continue to use more digital technologies in their business, even after the pandemic.
Thanks to its digital connectivity, GORUCK was able to help more Americans connect and get out in nature and exercise — safely — in the middle of a difficult period. This digitally driven company was able to sustain itself as well by tending to its community and selling through an inventory of training tools on its e-commerceenabled website. Sales of training items were up by as much as 300%.
When it comes to advice for other small businesses, the McCarthys believe it’s important for companies to take stock of what they have available to them and then swing into action. “Use what you have, and don’t wait for perfection,” Jason says. Emily adds, “And don’t forget that digital tools are a force multiplier for just about anything you need to get done.”
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