How to create a Launch Command Center

Presented live on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Register for our live tutorials

Even with great copy, launches are unpredictable and can quickly become a disaster. You need a launch management plan – a Launch Command Center. In this tutorial, copywriter and launch expert, Abbey Woodcock, shows you the 7 essentials every project management system needs to keep launches from turning into a hurricane.

Abbey’s Launch Template


Joanna Wiebe: … so much confusion on one hand and desire on the other, people want to do a launch so well because we know there’s so much riding on it. Then you get close to doing one and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, can I just launch this on [inaudible 00:00:14] and call it a day?” [inaudible 00:00:15], no, no. Abbey has worked in huge launches, I’ll list off a few that I know that she’s mentioned, Ramit Sethi, his launches, Ryan Levesque, he does the ASK method for those who aren’t familiar, I think everybody is familiar though. Oh gosh, who else am I forgetting, Abbey?

Abbey Woodcock: Jeff Walker, I work with his teams building backend systems, so I don’t do the writing for that but we do a lot of the system for Jeff Walker’s team. Mastin Kipp is one that we work with, so he’s in the personal development space, he’s like Oprah’s guru or something. Those are the big ones, and a whole bunch more.

Joanna Wiebe: Amazing. Yeah, huge launches, you’ve been doing this for a long time. Now, today, we’re going to talk about your launch command center and we have a kick ass template to share with you. Abbey showed it to me and I was like, “What is even happening here?” It’s so intense for managing your launch, it’s ridiculous, so we immediately saved it for our launches. Yeah, Abbey, I’ll let you take over, I think, from there. We’ve got about 17 minutes left for the main tutorial part and I don’t want to take up any more of your time.

Abbey Woodcock: Yeah, perfect. I’ll dive right in. You did a great intro, so that’s me and I work with KC and I’ll talk about that in just a moment. Let me just share screen here and I will walk through what our launch command center looks like. Everybody see my screen? We good on that?

Joanna Wiebe: We good.

Abbey Woodcock: Cool, perfect. All right, awesome. As mentioned, Ryan Levesque, we did his ASK launch. Jeff Walker, we worked behind the scenes. Ramit Sethi, I’ve worked on dozens of launches for … I was lead copywriter for IWT for about three years, and then Mastin Kipp, we’re working on some of his launches as well. This is the day KC and I met. KC teaches infinite command system for, he’s a FEMA trained instructor on that, so he does disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes and how to set up a command structure for something like that. We met, this was at a class he was teaching about how to set up the command structure, so there’s me in the front row and KC teaching there.

Abbey Woodcock: I’m going to teach you a little part of what he taught me and how, then, I applied it to launches. Hopefully by the end you won’t fall in love with me because it’s really exciting stuff and led to me and KC’s marriage. We’re going to talk about how to set up a launch command center and basically the seven essentials. I’m going to show you quick my template and then we’ll get back to that after we go over these seven things.

Abbey Woodcock: This is what the command center looks like. It’s a lot of colors and we do this all in Google Docs, and I’ll tell you why in just a few moments. I’m really kind of nonpartisan when it comes to the tool that you use, so whether it’s Basecamp, or Asana, or Trello, or I’ve heard is now a really popular one, whatever the tool that you use for project management you can apply this system to that. In a PLF style launch, product launch formula, there are a lot of moving pieces and those are a lot of the launches that I do, so that’s what this command center is going to look like for those style launches. I also use it when I’m doing a webinar launch or just any launch, and I use this same command center in my business for my regular content and copy needs.

Abbey Woodcock: I know it looks a little bit overwhelming but the principles of it area actually really simple, so I’m going to show you what those principles are. The first thing is that everyone involved in the company can access and edit whatever the tool is that you’re using the command center. You want to make it stupid easy to do this. Too often I find I come into a company and they’re doing a launch and they’ve got some advanced project management software and the contractors, the designers, and the copywriters and whoever else is working on the launch, now instead of doing work in the beginning or doing product research or whatever, they’re trying to learn new software.

Abbey Woodcock: If you’re having your contractors or anybody on your team learning new software make sure it’s a software that’s really intuitive and easy to use. You want to make sure that everybody can access, from the tech team that has to load the copy onto the site, to the designers that have to design things, to the people that have to edit, there’s just a whole bunch of people that need to be able to access it. That’s exactly why I use Google Docs, because nobody has to install everything, it’s really intuitive, it works just like any other spreadsheet. Even if they’ve never used Google Spreadsheets before they can figure out how to use it really quickly.

Abbey Woodcock: Number two is all the needs are accounted for. If you look back at the spreadsheet there’s like 100 different deliverables here, down to every single page, every single email that’s going to go out, everything that is needed from the copy side. Then if you look down at these tabs it’s also all the videos that need to be recorded, all the graphics that need to be developed, and all the pages that need to be built.

Abbey Woodcock: I had a client one time that, during a launch, and if anybody’s worked on launches here you know that this is par for the course, it was like 3 AM and I got a text message right before open cart from this client that said, “Where the heck is the post purchase thank you page?” I looked on my list of stuff that I had to do, that page was never on there, so I had to write this at 3:00 in the morning. the conversation the next day with the client was, “How did you not know that you needed the post purchase thank you page?” Of course I know that that’s something that needs to be developed, but when you have 150 different deliverables it’s really easy to miss that thing.

Abbey Woodcock: You want to make sure that you walk through the customer journey of sales, and then even post purchase, and what has to happen and that it ends up on this list. If it’s not on the list it’s not going to get done, because everybody that’s working on a launch has got 1,000 things that they’re doing. When I say all needs I mean every single caption, the terms of service, everything that needs to be linked or written or the welcome email, all those things that get forgotten, you really want to walk through this a couple times. Too often we make assumptions about, “Oh, the copywriter knows that after somebody purchases that they’re going to see a page.” Yes, they know that, but when we’re looking at a list we’re going to forget it.

Abbey Woodcock: Number three, you want easy links to all the deliverables. This is another reason I really like Google Docs for this feature. If we go up to the top of this spreadsheet here, you can link right in a Google Doc to another Google Doc, which has the copy in it, so I just brought up a template here. In this command center, all of these documents would be linked to the copy. That way you are saving that back and forth where you get that email that says, “Hey, I know you wrote this email three weeks ago. Now the designer needs it because we’re going to make an infographic, or the tech person that works in Infusionsoft needs it. Can you send Joanna a link to it?”

Abbey Woodcock: Now I have to go back in my drive, dig around for this thing that I wrote three weeks ago, where if you’d just keep it in this document then it saves a ton of unnecessary communication during the launch. Whoever needs that document can just go to it, and then they can see the status to know if it’s the final copy or not. Really important there to have links. Like I said, all of these tools, like Asana, and Trello, and Basecamp all have that feature too, where you can link it up. I also like Google Docs because there’s no version control when you use Word documents or something, you end up with like two version sevens or whatever.

Joanna Wiebe: The worst.

Abbey Woodcock: It’s awful. Number four, you want the final due dates. This sounds really obvious but I can’t tell you how many times that that has not happened, where I didn’t know exactly when things were going to go live, or when … What the copy due date is, if you’re a copywriter, copywriters are the first step in the process because later the copy is written then it has to go to design, then it has to go to tech, then it has to be loaded in the emails or whatever. If you don’t know when the final deadline is you tend to push your deadline. What happens is when the copywriter pushes their deadline then graphic design has less time, then tech has less time, and then all of a sudden things are getting pushed and in a launch, when deadlines are pushed, it is not a small thing. If you have partners involved or you have a whole sequence going live, so you’re late on the first one then you have to release stuff later, and it just turns into a big mess. Understanding when things are going live is really important.

Abbey Woodcock: Okay, number five, the current status. This is so, so important. This has saved tons of meetings, emails, if you’re a copywriter or even if you play a different role in a launch, there’s nothing worse than getting 10 emails a day that’s like, “What’s the status on this? What’s the status on this? What’s the status on this? Let’s have a meeting about all the statuses on everything.” There should be no status check in meetings, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I’d rather be actually working and writing the copy than sitting in a meeting where they go down a list and say, “What’s the status on this one?”

Joanna Wiebe: [inaudible 00:10:59] …

Abbey Woodcock: The way that I do it is super simple and other clients that I’ve had have broken this down a little bit more. On here, we’ll go to PLC two, I have four statuses. I haven’t started it yet, I’m working on it, it’s done, or it’s overdue. The overdue one is important because if you have a lot of those it gives me a visual of, “Oh, something is going wrong, we need to figure this out.” You can break it down even further to edited by the clients, or needs review, or in design, or whatever. I like to keep it super simple but sometimes clients want a bigger breakdown so you can put as many of these as you want. I like just knowing, have they started, they’re working on it, and it’s done. That’s really all that I like.

Abbey Woodcock: Then number six, what you should be doing today. I had this experience, and this is where KC came in, because sometimes launches, you’re working on the copy and everything else for three months before it launches. That’s why always hate when internet marketers say, “I made a $1 million in four days,” it’s like yeah, but you worked on it for three months before that. Open cart may have been four or five days, but you’re working on it for a long time.

Abbey Woodcock: What happens when you have 100 copy deliverables due in three months and they’re all due on that open cart day? It gets really like, I don’t even know what to do, it’s March 1st, this is launching on July 1st and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be working on. This is why we made, and it’s called a Gantt chart if you have any project management background, and that’s what this is, it’s just a modified Gantt chart. We broke it down to PLC one is due on … Sorry, my zoom thing is covering up my numbers here. PLC one is due January 13th. The final copy is due then, so what has to happen in the mean time?

Abbey Woodcock: You have to edit it, you have to draft it, there was a copy chief named Kevin that was on this project so I had to get the rough draft to the copy chief before the team edited it, and you have to have your strategy and your creative planning. This OL stands for outline, so you have an outline of what you’re doing. I can look at any date, so let’s go to January 12th, and I can see what things I should be working on and what due dates are coming up. That gives me a really good visualization when I look down and say, “Oh, okay, here’s the stuff I can look at. More importantly, here’s the stuff that I don’t even need to think about.” If you’re a copywriter you’ve had the experience of clients being like, “What’s the status on the Facebook ads?” You’re like, “I haven’t even started it yet.” They’re like, “What the heck? Why not?” It’s like, “Because I’m doing all this other stuff that’s more urgent.”

Abbey Woodcock: I like to have an idea of what I’m working on each day. I block things off in a week time. If I took off this Tuesday the 10th, that’s fine, I just have some deadlines on Friday. I don’t like breaking it down by day just because I’m a freelancer, I want a little bit flexibility, I don’t want deadlines every single day.

Abbey Woodcock: All right, cool. Then number seven, this came from a bad experience or a difficult launch, which was key, vacation, and blackout dates. If you look up here it says “Abbey is out” and “The client is out” up here, then the dates are blacked out when the client might be traveling or might be at an event, or the days that I’m off too so that the client can come in and say, “Why isn’t Abbey responding to my emails? Oh, she’s out today.” This also helps because when you need feedback and you’re emailing the client, and then you realize that they’re out of town. You can plan around this accordingly. If I need final editing this week, if you look it’s due on January 20th but actually we need to have that by January 16th, because the client is going to be out those four days. If I need final feedback on that I’m not going to get it in that time.

Abbey Woodcock: These seven things were what made this spreadsheet. I can’t take the credit because KC was the one that really … I told him what I needed, I told him these seven things, and here’s the problems that we have with launches, and then he built this spreadsheet. Now, like I said, I just make … With Google Docs, if you haven’t used them, if you do this file and then make a copy, and then I just reuse this thing all the time. The way this template is, it actually adjusts the dates. Your start date, whatever it is, if I change it to today’s date all these dates across the top are going to change. It’s a really amazing template.

Joanna Wiebe: [crosstalk 00:16:10] ridiculous, by the way. [crosstalk 00:16:13], it’s ridiculous. I’m watching this thinking, “She should’ve charged for this template.” Crazy … I won’t say anything more because you already gave it to us for free, that’s all, [inaudible 00:16:24].

Abbey Woodcock: I can take it back. I’ll [crosstalk 00:16:27] …

Joanna Wiebe: … [inaudible 00:16:29] …

Abbey Woodcock: This is me, I’m also a chainsaw instructor in my free time. This instant command stuff came from there. It works with chainsaw classes and disasters and it works in launches, and both of them require beer at the end of the day, so that’s why I shared this picture. Then real quick, before we dive into questions, KC and I are doing a three day intensive all about launches, about how to build a system like this, how to plan the marketing strategy, is a PLF launch right for you, maybe it’s not, maybe there’s a different strategy that you need to use, and then how to build the spreadsheet and all the pieces that you need to make that happen. I wanted to share that with you guys. I can’t share everything in this system in 20 minutes so I wanted to make sure that I gave you guys the opportunity to work more with us if you’re doing launches.

Abbey Woodcock: We’re going to cover a ton of stuff, incident response, that’s the stuff that was in the email that you sent out today, Jo, about what happens when things go wrong. When there’s a tech failure, when the copy is not delivered, when your graphic designer just decides that they don’t work for you anymore, how to budget, how to set deadlines, like I said, launch strategy, the marketing strategy, the meeting cycle, how to have meetings that are efficient and also everybody knows what’s going on. Then also we talk about all the different software, some of the stuff that I mentioned, Basecamp, Asana, Trello,, Google Docs, which ones might be right for your team.

Abbey Woodcock: After action reports, so after the launch how to break down what happened, what went wrong, how you can get better. Then we’ll actually break down some of the launches that I worked on for some of the people that we talked about. Then the last day is going to be a sand table exercise, so we’ll actually sit down and plan your launch with you. Hold on, here we go. It’s also going to be in a secluded lodge on the Hudson River in upstate New York. It’s not going to be in some stuffy hotel ballroom. We’re going to do a whole bunch of activities, there’s morning yoga and hiking and all this fun stuff. Everything is included. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t something where you’re paying for the event, plus your hotel, plus your food.

Abbey Woodcock: The hotel, which is the lodge, three nights stay in the private lodge is included. Custom meals by our private chef, so whatever your dietary restrictions. Morning yoga, round trip transportation from the airport, and all the tools, templates, all that stuff. If any of you guys are interested you can apply at and we’ll just make sure that we’re a good fit and that this make sense for you, because I don’t want anybody singing up and then not getting value out of it. Fill that out, we’ll hop on a call, and we’ll go from there. I went one minute over, I’m pretty proud of myself for staying-

Joanna Wiebe: That was crazy. Well done. That was awesome. I know that there’s so much to say, the intensive … That’s like we were talking about, it sounds so amazing. I know it’s a very small group. Any other notes to keep in mind for people who will want to apply? What’s the right kind of person or anything like that?

Abbey Woodcock: This is an intensive in a small group, so this isn’t one of those conferences where it’s like $200 and there’s 1,000 people. We really want to make sure that each person is getting their launch planned out I they have launches coming up, or evaluating if launches are even right for their organization. Really, you need to have a product that you’re launching or planning on launching, that’s really important. It’s not going to be really useful for somebody that’s brand new to online businesses or selling products. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We wanted to do this totally different.

Abbey Woodcock: I had a call yesterday with a major publisher and they were like, “I don’t understand this event, it’s so different than anything that I’ve seen before.” We wanted it that way because we work one on one with clients to do this stuff and we wanted to find a way to teach this in a way that more people could access us. Our plan hopefully is to do more of these. We only have one planned for now, and see how it goes. Yeah, that’s the overview of it.

Joanna Wiebe: If I’m a launch copywriter and I take on freelance clients, is this a good fit for me then? You said you have to have a product-

Abbey Woodcock: Absolutely. If you’re a copywriter, a launch copywriter, you know that some of this falls on you. This is how I developed it, I have my own business and my own products now, but when I started it was because when you’re working on launches, especially at a high level, clients are going to expect that you have your stuff together and they’re not going to hand hold you on, “This is what you need to do today, this is what you need to do tomorrow.” They’re going to give you the big list of things, or even less than that.

Abbey Woodcock: Sometimes they’re going to go, “We’re going to do a PLF launch in July, what do we need to do?” Absolutely, this will be a good matchmaking too, if you’re a copywriter that’s doing launches with some of the business owners that might be looking for people that are going to run their launches and do copy for their launches. I always say it’s always good to have a second skill in addition to copywriting for prospecting clients. There’s a lot of people that can write copy, there’s not a lot of people that can write copy and manage the copy process.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, amazing. is showing on the screen still, so you can see it and go there, Sarah will chat that out again. You have the template. I know we have a couple questions for you, Abbey, if that’s cool.

Abbey Woodcock: Yeah, absolutely.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay.

Abbey Woodcock: [crosstalk 00:22:36] …

Joanna Wiebe: Maybe ask … Is the intensive good to plan a retail store opening launch? What are the, I guess, limits around what you can launch with this?

Abbey Woodcock: Yeah, we’re going to be talking a lot about the online marketing strategies, things like PLF, the ASK method, webinars, that kind of stuff in the first day. Then we’re going to dig into the system and how it works. This system, like I said, came from the disaster space, with hurricanes and tornadoes, and got adapted to launches. It can be any major marketing project. I use the word launches because everybody understands what that means, but it’s really marketing projects. Any big marketing projects this will work for. There may be stuff in the beginning of the first day, if you’re not launching online, that will be a little bit irrelevant. For the most part the systems and the meeting schedules and the planning tools that we’re going to share, if you’re marking anything will be useful for you.

Joanna Wiebe: I know I’m particularly interested about how to use it for software launches. So many cool startups do these launches that just kind of … Poof, they just vanish, like, “We’re available now.” That’s us included, we’ve done the exact same thing, we’ve not applied launch strategies to software launches. We launch courses completely different from how we launch software. Anyway, lots to learn there. Joey asked, “Have you ever seen or used Airtable?” Do you use Airtable for any of your management?

Abbey Woodcock: Yeah, I have played around. It’s interesting, because as I’ve been teaching this and talking about this I’ve gotten so many suggestions from project management software. Like I said, I run everything out of Google Docs. I’ve played around with Airtable, I have the trial account I think. That’s something that, like I said, whatever tool works for you, as long as these principles are there that people can learn it quickly and you can access everything that you need, it could absolutely be applied to it.

Joanna Wiebe: Excellent. That brings us actually to the end of our questions. I think people are busy looking through, one, more about the intensive … Oh wait, there’s another one that just came in. That generally happens. Intensive and the spreadsheet, we will share those links out one more time so stay tuned for that everyone. Terry says, “Will or can the intensive develop into longer post launch aspects to better leverage ASK?” ASK, as in the ASK method.

Abbey Woodcock: Yeah, we’re not going to … I want to make sure that I make this clear. If you want to learn the ASK method the best way to do that is to learn it from Ryan. We’re going to cover, in a half day, the major online marketing strategies that people are talking about right now and if they make sense for your company. If I had one complaint about the different strategies and how they’re being shared out there now is that it’s really simple to do all these things. The principles of ASK are very simple, and the principles of PLF are very simple, but the execution is where people run into problems. We’re going to talk about how to execute these strategies. I’ll give you a brief overview of what the strategy is and then we’ll talk about, from a project management perspective, what resources do you need, what things do you need to think about, and go into that. Will this help you execute the ASK method? Absolutely. Will it teach you the ASK method? No.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, amazing. Terry says, “Thanks, that’s awesome.” By the way, I don’t know if you’ve seen all the chats about this tutorial today, Abbey, but if you want a little ego boost-

Abbey Woodcock: I haven’t.

Joanna Wiebe: People are like, “This is the best Tutorial Tuesday we’ve ever had, it’s going [crosstalk 00:26:20], we’re loving this.” Amazing. [inaudible 00:26:23], “If you live overseas and can’t get to the intensive are there any alternatives?”

Abbey Woodcock: Not yet. This Tutorial Tuesday is about the only alternative that I have to teaching this stuff right now. We are recording the event but we don’t know what we’re going to do with it yet. I don’t want to promise that there’s going to be a course down the road, but we’re thinking about if the event goes well what is next. I don’t know what is next yet so I’m trying to get through the event, and then we’ll see what’s next. Short answer is no, there is not alternatives yet.

Joanna Wiebe: Perfect. I have a question. By the time you’re done the intensive, does a person get any sort of seal of approval from you or anything like that?

Abbey Woodcock: Yeah, two things on that. Number one, we’re working with the Project Management Institute, which is the certifying body for project managers, so they’re the global place. If you meet somebody that’s a project manager they likely have what’s called the PMP, the project management professional certification. Our event is going to count as credits, because you need a certain amount of hours to apply to be a project management professional, and our event will count as credits towards that exam. We’re working on expanding that and figuring out exactly, is there a launch management PMP that we’re going to work with them on? We’re working on that, but as of now yes, you’ll be ready to take the certified associate of project management exam after the event.

Joanna Wiebe: Wow, amazing. Very cool. Cool for people who are expanding their careers, that’s awesome. Laurie asked over in chat, this is back to SAS, and someone else said, Michael said that he wants to know more about SAS launches if at all. Laurie says, “I built a new SAS system, coded and designed everything, wrote all the copy and the thing is live but I got zero interest. Is this kind of thing right for me?” He’s already launched.

Abbey Woodcock: Okay. Part of that, what I said, the after action report, we’re going to talk about how to evaluate, and my background is in copy and KC’s is in project management. We’ll talk about how to evaluate why didn’t you get any interest. Was it a copy problem? Was it a strategy problem? Was it a market fit problem? We’re going to look at exactly how to evaluate what happened and we’re going to show you how to do that so then you can apply it to launches in the future as well. Absolutely, if you were looking at it and you’re really confused on why it didn’t work we’ll give you some ideas at the event.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, fabulous. I’ll ask you Brad’s question, this is the last question I believe. Thank you again for going over there, Abbey. Brad says, “How do you choose a template or formula, like PLF or ASK, how do you choose a technique or method for your launch? How do you decide which makes the most sense for your product and brand?”

Abbey Woodcock: That’s part of, like I said, that first half day that we’re going to be talking about. In short, it really depends on resources to me. PLF takes a lot of resources because PLF is a video launch. There’s three parts, four parts actually. You do three prelaunch videos and then the sales video. If you don’t have access to a studio, a way to make nice videos, a video editor, or the money to spend on those things then it’s really difficult. You can do a small PLF launch with just a cell phone video or a computer video, and the same with ASK method. There’s ways to do it bootstrapped but we’re going to look at really what the resources are that are required. Like I said, that would be my one fault. I don’t want to rail on ASK and PLF, because it’s really any strategy, it’s so easy a caveman can do it. Then you get into it and the execution of it is a little bit more complicated. That’s a really big question that is what’s your market, what are you doing, what kind of course is it, and what resources do you have are the things to think about.

Joanna Wiebe: Awesome. Amazing, that is everything for the Q&A. Abbey, thank you so much. We’ll chat those links out one more time to the template. Do not miss that link. That alone is crazy. The intensive, also amazing, check out the that we’re going to chat out as well. Apply soon, there’s lots of interest in this and it is going to be really cool based on what Abbey has told me. Super cool, and what I’ve read as well. Abbey, anywhere else that they can find you online? You’re on Twitter @onlifeandwriting or is it just lifeandwriting?

Abbey Woodcock: On Twitter it’s just lifeandwriting. Then, yeah, my blog is Then also if you’re a copywriter I have a program over at where we talk about the stuff in the context of being a copywriter. Those are the main places.

Joanna Wiebe: Amazing. Abbey, thank you. KC, back there, hidden back there somewhere, thank you.

KC Baney: Thanks guys.

Joanna Wiebe: [inaudible 00:31:38], thanks. Thanks Sarah. Thanks everyone for attending and staying late and asking great questions. We will see you next week for our next Tutorial Tuesday. Thanks guys, bye.

Abbey Woodcock: Bye.

Get our new articles, videos and event info.

Join 89,000+ fine folks. Stay as long as you'd like. Unsubscribe anytime.