If you’ve never heard of rucking, it’s not for lack of trying on Jason McCarthy’s part. The former Green Beret is determined to make the rucking of special forces lore, or moving with weight on your back, bigger than running. That’s the mission of GORUCK, the business he founded.
GORUCK’s products include military-style rucksacks, accessories, rugged footwear and apparel. The target audience is adventurers and travelers eager to prove their mettle, build their strength and test their endurance. Special forces veterans promote the products by leading more than 1,000 GORUCK-hosted events a year in the United States, Mexico, Asia, and Europe, and 300 official GORUCK clubs around the world foster a sense of community.
McCarthy opened the business on paper in 2008 but didn’t start selling rucksacks until 2010. First, he had to get them designed. He found the designers by placing a Craigslist ad, a move that showed McCarthy the power of the Internet. He takes advantage of the digital opportunity whenever he can to elevate GORUCK.
“We want to stay on the forefront of the Internet while being grounded in the real world,” McCarthy said.
The GORUCK events and clubs are a key outlet for creating brand awareness. They provide experiences that reflect the durability of the products and content that shows the products in action. Online connections bind the GORUCK community together.
The products are only sold online, supported by tools like Big Commerce and Shogun for e-commerce functionality, GitHub for hosting, and Google Tag Manager for tracking and analytics. GORUCK is active on social media, with more than 235,000 Facebook fans and nearly 100,000 Instagram followers who serve as a sounding board for GORUCK.
McCarthy said most rucking enthusiasts learn about the community via online searches, so the company studies search terms to better understand consumers. This also helps GORUCK target Facebook and Google ads precisely to lure people from related adventure communities.
Clearly measurable data from digital technology provides deep insight into GORUCK’s investments, and the low costs of the tools make it easy to change direction.
McCarthy is warily watching policy developments in Washington. Laws that target big tech companies could trickle down to GORUCK and affect their daily workflow. But one thing won’t change for GORUCK, McCarthy said. “We’ll still make great products.”