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Winning in 2016: Rolling with the Punches on Product Launches

Jeremy Goldman
Winning in 2016: Rolling with the Punches on Product Launches

What 'Big Ideas' will set the tone for your company this year?

As part of our year-end, Firebrand Group released a new ebook, 20.16 Big Ideas for 2016. In it, we asked a number of our favorite award-winning marketing experts, authors, and other thought leaders – in addition to some of our own team of digital strategy and branding experts – to recommend one “Big Idea” that companies can take advantage of to get ahead in 2016.

One of the folks I was fortunate enough to interview for this project was Gavin Anstey, the co-founder at Denver-based Lumenati. In case you haven’t heard of Lumenati, they’re the award-winning content development agency with a pronounced focus on filmmaking.

Antsey’s Big Idea for 2016? Learn to better roll with the punches on product launches. Here’s some of our conversation.

Q: That's one of the more unique ideas we've heard here – and we all know product launches never go 100% as planned. What made you pick that Big Idea?

A: Mainly because I live it everyday, but it’s not solely for product launches. In producing commercial video shoots or managing clients, you’re always going to have a random ask or some detail that you assume will be easy, but turns out to be super difficult…if not a nightmare. We worked on a project earlier this year that required casting people with sugar-related illnesses. We went in to it thinking it’d be hard, but doable. We had no idea how tricky, difficult and time consuming it was to find all of our participants. It took almost two months of our time working every angle imaginable. But it was all worth it.

For product launches, the biggest thing is to never assume anything and to realize when you are assuming. Things will never go 100%. It’s just a fact. The key is to understand and identify which things have the potential for issue and to come up with two, three or even four other options or paths that could be taken if that fails. In fact, it might even be better to pursue multiple options simultaneously just to ensure that momentum never halts.

Q: You've been working on an interesting product launch lately. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and how your team has learned to roll with punches?

A: We’re working on a super exciting product called the CS1. We launched it successfully on Kickstarter and since then we’ve been tackling every aspect of the process from design/engineering revisions, prototyping, manufacturing, logistics, packaging, investment…you name it, we’ve been doing it. The hardest thing with tackling all of of those necessary items is to not get discouraged and to not focus on just one path. Sure, you have to make quick decisions and get things done as quickly as possible, but always considering your options and trying to run parallel paths at the same time is a really crucial thing to do. The key is to keep your momentum always moving forward.

Lumenati CS1

Q: You talk a good deal about being ready for the "unknown unknowns." How do you think companies can make their people more ready to do that?

A: I’d say the best way to do that is to hold weekly, if not daily, update sessions with your team to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that all potential routes are on the table. My partner and I constantly talk about what we’re working on and share our strategies to move forward to get feedback and assess how the next steps should be taken. Two heads are always better than one, so it’s important to be in constant communication and transparent so that when the unknown unknowns arrive, you’re ready to tackle them head on instead of running around panicking. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Not fun at all.

Q: Do you have any particular hacks – apps, organizational practices, etc. – that help Lumenati and that you would recommend to others?

A: We’ve used Trello a bit here and there to help with task organization. The hardest part is sticking with it as it never has really been in our tool bag. Honestly, we use a small white board to outline our tasks, projects, etc. My partner and I are managing our production company while launching this product, so we definitely try to stay as organized as possible so we always know what we’re working on every day, every week and what our goals are.

Jeremy Goldman is an entrepreneur, author, strategist and founder of the Firebrand Group. You can follow him @jeremarketer. If you'd like to read more from Anstey’s peers, such as such as Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari), Zvi Band (Founder of Contactually), Alexa von Tobel (Founder & CEO of LearnVest), and many more, access Firebrand's entire ebook here. And here’s wishing you lots of success at rolling with the punches in all your 2016 launches.

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