Rube Goldberg’s product launch formula

Ever heard of Rube Goldberg?

Mr. Goldberg was an engineer and inventor, but what really made him famous is his cartoons.

He’d diagram out these outlandish machines that chained together water wheels and tiny steam locomotives and even the occasional octopus…

Just to accomplish some braindead simple task.

Like his “Simple Way to Uncork a Bottle,” which involved an elephant, a bag of peanuts, a monkey and a sleeping dog (just for starters).

You can see it here.

Hilarious stuff, if you’ve got a geeky engineering side like me.

And it reminds me of a marketing funnel I saw a few days ago…

This was for a product launch in the a dating niche. (I don’t work in this niche at all, but this was one of the few non-sleazy products in that space.)

The launch was clearly a TON of work to put together. The product sells for $497, and typically the higher the price, the more copy you need to make the sale.

And oh man, did they ever have copy. Thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth.

Huge long sales page. 10-20 emails for the in-house list, plus more for affiliates. Facebook ads. Landing pages. Webinar scripts.

It got to be so complex that the copywriter sat down and spent a few hours drawing the whole thing out in a workflow diagram. (Fills 3-4 pages of letter sized paper. Really well done, too. The programmer in me is proud…)

Here’s the thing, though:

They’re halfway through the launch now, and… it’s failing.

They’ve made a few sales, but not nearly what they were expecting.


The copywriter was looking for some quick help to get his launch off life support.

He’s in a tough spot.

The clock is ticking—he has 7 days to make this thing work.

No time to make drastic changes to the complex machinery that they’ve built.

I suggested making some quick tweaks to the offer—like announcing some surprise bonuses. And definitely talking to people who had seen the offer and decided to pass. Maybe they can sweeten the deal and salvage the launch.

That’s just a bandaid at best, though.

From what I can see, the real problem here is that the marketer got caught up in the MACHINERY for the launch…

And now he has this huge contraption with 93 moving parts, and it’s pretty difficult to tell what the weak links are.

That’s why it’s smart to build your funnel one piece at a time.

Starting with the basics:

A source of traffic. A way to capture email addresses. A sales page that makes a clear offer. And an email sequence that sends people back to that sales page over and over.

Yes, complex funnels are often necessary.

By starting simple, though, you can see whether the extra complexity actually helps you…

Or whether you’re just enlisting an entire zoo to help you pop open a bottle of champaign.