277: An Interview With MMA Bobblehead Founder Dave Manley

277: An Interview With MMA Bobblehead Founder Dave Manley

Today I’m thrilled to have Dave Manley on the show. Dave was a finalist for the 5 Minute Pitch, my Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer and Scott Voelker where we gave away 50,000 in cold hard cash.

Dave runs MMA Bobblehead which is an ecommerce business selling bobbleheads of UFC fighters.

Dave was one of my favorite contestants on the 5 Minute Pitch and I wanted to a deep dive into his story today and how he makes sales. Enjoy!

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What You’ll Learn

  • Dave’s motivations for starting his business
  • How Dave validated his niche
  • The bold moves Dave made to meet UFC fighters
  • The keys to Dave’s success
  • The challenges of working with celebrities

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Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today, I have my buddy, Dave Manley on the show and if you listen to the 5 Minute Pitch, Dave was one of the finalist and he runs MMA Bubblehead where he sells bubble heads for UFC fighters. Now, in this episode we break down how Dave attracted the attention of famous writers as a nobody who’s been able to generate his sales.

But before we begin I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

also want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. Now on to the show

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast we will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m thrilled to have Dave Manley on the show. Now, Dave was a finalist for the five minute pitch. My Shark Tank like show with Mike Jackness, Gregg Mercer and Scott Walker where we gave away $50,000 in Cold Hard Cash. Now, Dave runs MMA bubblehead, which is an e-commerce business selling. Well, you guessed it bubble heads of MMA fighters, but Dave’s bubble heads are not the cheap kind you can buy in stores or get for free at ball games. His bobbleheads are the best quality that I’ve ever seen. And he signed on top fighters like Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson as well and Dave was actually one of my favorite contestants on the 5 minute pitch. And what I want to do today is I really wanted to delve deeply into his story and how he makes sales how he got started because there’s a lot of things that we obviously couldn’t cover in 5 minutes on the 5 minute pitch show and with that welcome to show Dave. How are you doing today?

Dave: Hey Steve. Thanks for having me man. Listen, it is it’s a great honor to be on your podcast. I’m going to tell you why. Three years ago this month in July. I came up with this idea about making bobbleheads for MMA athletes and I had no idea what I was doing not only on the bobblehead side, but more importantly on the e-commerce side. I had no clue Steve, So the first podcast that I attached myself to of the sea of podcasts out there was yours and I’m not just saying that and I Hooked onto your podcast and I ended up just binge listening to all of your episodes back-to-back to back I couldn’t get enough and it’s just so great to be on your show after the five minute pitch and it’s just kind of coincidental that it’s three years later after I come up with this idea and discover you that now I’m on your show. So it’s a great honor for me.

Steve: Well, thanks a lot for the kind words Dave and happy anniversary. I didn’t realize it’s been three years now.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you know what Steve I came up with this idea, you know. Not to get really philosophical, but I’ll dive a little bit deeper and like how I came up with this idea and what happened because I kind of tell the story and people who follow me kind of know the story on how it happened. But a lot of people don’t know that about a week before I came up with the idea. I was in Las Vegas and I was at a UFC fight and I have great tickets great seats. I was literally maybe three rows from the cage, right and I was about 40 41 years old at the time and I was enjoying myself. So much I was over until I didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I didn’t want to go get a soda. I wanted to stay in my seat and just take everything in well about an hour into the fight. I started really having like some deeper thoughts, right? and I started thinking man Dave, you know, you’re 40 years old whatever if I was ten years younger, I would just dedicate my life to this sport dedicate my life to this organization the UFC or these athletes martial arts and do whatever it took to be part of this community and make a living because I love that. I love martial arts.

I’d love this sport so much. It’s it’s not even right how much I’ll I mean a lot of people love baseball basketball football or whatever. But I mean, I just feel like the sport is part of my fiber and so I was having these like self talks with myself like it. Yeah, man, I’m a little bit too old to start thinking about that right now, but man if I was just 30 again, and I came home and about 1 week later I cleared of the shelf in my office and I thought I told myself I’m going to start purchasing MMA memorabilia and it was then that I wanted to buy a bobblehead of my favorite fighter and they didn’t make them and then I went on to another fighter who’s just equal he’s famous. They didn’t make him either. So then I went on the most famous fighter that they got name’s Conor McGregor didn’t make him either and it was just right there, right then. I knew that you know, I’m not this. I’m not one of these guys Steve that put it out in the universe.

I don’t know if I believe in that whatever but I knew right then and there. There that maybe something was being answered because I knew boom that I am going to make these bobbleheads. I didn’t know that I was going to make them so well, but I knew that I was going to start taking that step towards, you know, those thoughts that I had just a couple weeks previous.

Steve: So I can understand wanting a bobblehead for yourself, but turning into a business and scaling is a completely different thing. So did you have any exterior motivations for starting it as a business?

Dave: Well, you know, yes, okay. Yes. And no first of all, I thought well they make bobbleheads for every other Sport and they’ve made bobbleheads for every other sport for decades for 50 years. And I thought you know you the UFC MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world. Literally, I mean is it is growing faster at a bigger trajectory than any sport at any time ever and I thought, you know, there’s some serious athletes in the sports that are very very popular. So if I want one Why wouldn’t other people want one as well? So, you know, yes, I thought this could be a business for sure and I just needed to come up with how to make him. See by new I own one bobble head is a Babe Ruth bobblehead that I kept on my desk. Someone gave it to me. I paid no attention to it. Everyone loves bobbleheads including me. I mean, how could you not they’re kind of part of an inner woven and who we are sports fans and Society, but I just thought you know if I want one and these Have millions of fans out there and literally why would another people want one? So I thought you know, yes first learn how to make them learn how to do it. Right and then maybe I can turn around and sell them.

Steve: So, okay. So you knew at this time that you wanted to make them. How did you actually get started? Like for example, I mean, I know someone who makes bobbleheads, but if I didn’t know that guy I would have no idea how to get started. So, where did you find someone to make them for you?

Dave: Yeah. Okay. So first of all, I needed to know how to make them myself. Okay, so I did research when you’re clueless about something Steve and you have no idea how it’s made but you want to make you want to learn you don’t want to just hire someone to do it for you right? unless you got a ton of money and a ton of you know resources to do that, but I’m bootstrapping this thing and you know, my my fiancée wasn’t totally on board with this past my other my friends and family members, I swear to God, Steve some of them laughed at me. And here I am. 41 year old Dave asking my friends. Hey guys. What do you think about me making Bobbleheads you know, it’s a gut reaction just to kind of like chuckle and laugh like dude. What are you an idiot? You’re a financial planner dude, you wear a suit and tie to work you and by the way, you handle my money, so don’t be going up again doing some us something else.

So, you know, I didn’t get the strongest reaction from people, but then when I start from my clothes in a circle, but then when I started branching out and started asking MMA fans about it. Everyone was like hell yes, dude, dude, what how do they not make him and me bobbleheads already? That was my biggest feedback for sure. So what I did and I guess what most people do nowadays is I turn to YouTube and I just really engulfed myself with YouTube videos. Videos about figurines about model painting about about bobbleheads them out clay, paint, spraying.

Steve: Wait a second. Did you make your first bobblehead yourself?

Dave: No, I just I designed every one of them but I wanted to know the ins and outs of making them. So so did I make it myself with my own two hands? No, but did I design it and was I there every step of the way? Yes. It was like I was shoulder to shoulder with the first guy who made My Bobblehead and it was after I made my very first bobblehead and I and I wish I can show you what it looks like because I keep it on my desk to remind myself how far comes because it looks absolutely like crap. It really really does I’m staring at it right now when I have like when I’m down and out and I feel like I’m really struggling right now. I look at that first bobblehead that I make and and I really I really know that I’ve come a long way from making that but anyway, so well..

Steve: This guy that you that that makes them for you is in the US.

Dave: Yeah. He was in the US

Steve: And how did you find him?

Dave: I just found him by just doing research and calling and emailing there’s a lot of model makers out there. There’s a lot of figurine makers out there. It’s a very Niche Community.

Steve: Okay.

Dave: There’s a lot of professional model painters out there that paint for like say the Studio’s, you know for big for movies, you know, a lot of those scenes where they blow up a big city or car or building whatever those are all just models and there’s guys that paint those and so I had a really do a lot of research to find guys who Made this type of stuff.

Steve: How did you convince them to work with you? I mean if some random dude came to me and wanted to make a bobblehead and I was a designer. I’d be a little hesitant.

Dave: Money.

Steve: Okay, ha ha ha. So how much did you have to invest to get that first batch?

Dave: Oh my God. That’s a great question, Steve. Well wasn’t the first batch I made two with this guy and two cost me. Whoo to cost me about $1000.

Steve: Oh my goodness. Okay.

Dave: Yeah to cost me about $1,000. A, I Didn’t Know Better and B I was desperate to learn how to make it and I wanted to make it I mean and you know by far by far it’s the worst bobblehead I have but it’s the most meaningful one that I have too I’m never going to get rid of it and I ended up making about four different versions of this fighter and the fighters name was Nate Diaz and it’s a very famous pose that I made out of him and I wanted to practice because the pose was very unique. And and not to keep kind of strain off topic but one thing that is very unique about my bobbleheads. And for anyone who’s into sports at all knows that when you go to the game and you get a bobblehead for free not only is it really really cheap but it’s very generic all the poses of the same the guys holding a basketball, baseball, football whatever in the same kind of motion and they all look very cartoony.

Like you would never ever know who this guy was unless the name was on the base lets you saw that it was like LeBron James or Clayton Kershaw, you would never know. So one thing I wanted to do was I wanted to take poses from these fighters in their moments of Glory. I mean these they close the cage door on these guys Steve and Magic happens, right? I mean, it’s martial arts. They fly, they kick. They need the elbow and sometimes they get caught in a moment of Glory in a photo which becomes iconic in the sport. So I wanted to take those iconic moments and make it into a bobblehead where people look at that bobblehead and they say oh, yeah, that is that guy from that fight on that day. Like I recognize it just like that.

Steve: Are you still working with that? First guy? Like I’m trying to get that for you.

Dave: Oh no no

Steve: Okay so you paid two for $1,000 and those were no good. So did you move on to a different person?

Dave: Oh absolutely dude. I moved on to a different person and I was desperate to find better and better and better people the what I was learning as I was going. Was that bobbleheads need to be better period. I mean, there’s been no advancement in bobblehead technology and it’s not right as sports fan. So those of you guys who are listening especially hardcore Sportsman think about the best bobblehead you’ve ever had the think about the best bobblehead that you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s not good right? and it’s not good because it doesn’t have to be the Lakers don’t have to make a good LeBron James or the dodges don’t have to make a great Clayton Kershaw because all they want to do is get butts in the seats early so they can sell more beer and better parking more tickets or whatever. So they put the minimum amount of money and making these bobbleheads but it’s a shame because there’s only one LeBron James that comes around in a lifetime. There’s only one Clayton Kershaw that comes running Lifetime. And so when you memorialize these guys in a bobblehead do it right do it right do it.

Steve: Okay, So how many how many guys did you have to go through till you found your final one?

Dave: Probably, like three the yeah the way I found my final one is I just got on a plane to Hong Kong and I just looked at I my fiance thought I was I was on

Steve: Wait, let’s back up a little bit. How did you find this guy from Hong Kong?

Dave: I went to a trade show.

Steve: Okay.

Dave: Yeah art, you know toy trade show.

Steve: Okay, and that was in Hong Kong?

Dave: yeah

Steve: okay, and then you found him there and then obviously the cost were a lot cheaper than the u.s. I would presume.

Dave: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, it made it made it doable and the dream started becoming more and more of a reality because if I made them the way I was going either way. It was it’s an impossibility, you know, so..

Steve: So how do you work with someone in Hong Kong? What is the design look like you said you design all of these. Are you sending him photos or how does it work?

Dave: No, you know what? These guys are just they I just send them a blueprint a template all the artwork is done all over the world. So I have artists in the states. I have artists in Europe. I have artists in Asia. It really depends on what I’m looking for in designing the particular fighter, my budget, you know the detail that I want and things like that and then I’ll choose my and then I’ll choose the artist but I put my main artist is in Europe and you know, we design it together and then you know, I get I get the I don’t really want to talk about all the secret sauce.

Steve: Yeah, that’s okay. Well, what is the what is the template look like? Is it like a solid like, is it 3D modeling or?

Dave: yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we make a fine. A prototype that’s not a 3D modeling and my lead painter is in Orange County and we paint it and sometimes we paint two sometimes we pay three until I’m happy with exactly how it looks making sure it looks perfect. And then once I get that 100% correct, and then you know, I send it off and and you know, they do the rest.

Steve: So what are your cost to just design one?

Dave: It all depends Steve on the artwork, you know. Some bobbleheads are very very expensive because for the for the design because I want as much detail as possible in these things and then some are you know, some just some art that that detail-oriented, you know, and so it’s a little less expensive like

Steve: are we talking tens of thousands or?

Dave: No, no what you know all in I’m in a few thousand.

Steve: Few thousand, Mm. Okay, and then it costs you. I remember vaguely from the shows like 20 bucks or something to make.

Dave: Yeah, that’s 20 bucks to make okay. Okay about 20 bucks to make and and you know, it’s a great process and you know, what I pride myself on the process too is I work with these athletes and that’s something that is I don’t think it’s been done before.

Steve: So let’s talk about that. How did you how do you work with an athlete? Like, how do you get a hold of me? Just email them or?

Dave: yeah. I wish it was that easy. Yeah, man, you know that that question is hardly ever asked of me and I would have to say that that that is one of the hardest part of my business and it definitely was the number-one artist part when I was starting out because you know, how do you how do you call LeBron James and tell him that you wanted to have project with them. You know, you just don’t and then people say well, how do you.. and what people say, Well David you call his agent. Well, you know how many how many people call that agen, you know for a phone call. So it’s tough. So I had to do a lot of grimy things to get in front of these guys when I say grimy, I mean I just I just..

Steve: We need more example.

Dave: Yeah, I just hold up my sleeves dude and did whatever it took to get in front of these dudes. So like for an example like I would go to a place in which I knew the fighter was gonna be whether it was a nightclub or a fight or wherever and I would it’s embarrassing Steve but I it’s I would I would I would check out the situation see who he’s hanging out with and when one of his friends I’d have the bobblehead on me and then one of it when one of his friends Peeled off or I’d have a picture of the bobblehead whatever when one of his friends peeled off to go to the bathroom or just you know, walk away. I would hit up the friend and I’d go hey friend. I know you’re hanging out with Joe Blow the fight over there. Do I see you guys hanging out. I can’t get to him and I don’t want to be that creepy guy. So I just want to show you what I’m up to Harry, look at this picture or look at his bobblehead. I would love to make one out of Joe Blow. We let him know and you know, the friend would usually be look at me. Like I was absolutely crazy.

And you know, I would do things like that and then sometimes that work and then one of my biggest breakthroughs was I was waiting in a three-hour line in Las Vegas and was actually two years ago three years ago. It came up with the idea two years ago, I started hitting up Fighters because I was done with my final prototype. I would wait in like these lines three hour lines and I would walk up to the fighter. Now mind you it’s a massive cattle call. So everyone’s there with their photos they want Fighter to sign the photo and here I am a 41 year old guy holding a bobblehead. I don’t have a photo. I don’t have a pen and it’s my turn and I get up to him and I’d say as fast as I could and say, hey man, I’m a big fan. I’m making bobbleheads right now. Would you like a bobblehead made out of you? I can review a really great job. What do you think? and then put the bobblehead right in front of them, And the fighter would look at me. Like are you out of your mind?

Like who is this crazy guy? It’s a security would be like, no. No, you can’t do that. You can’t talk to. Um, but you got your autograph and you move on and then so they you know, you kind of move on to the next file and say okay. No, you know, sorry about that and then the next Fighter the next big fighter would be like two fighters away and I’d go up to the fighter and say hey, my name is Dave, I’m making bubbles and then security get to me..

Steve: Do you have a prototype of each one of those Fighters you were pitching before him?

Dave: Yeah, as I was getting better at making them because mind you I was a year into it. So as I was getting better at making them I felt more comfortable about showing these Fighters not there Prototype, but of Make Diaz because.

Steve: Oh, Gotcha. Okay

Dave: I can’t keep making Nate over and over again.

Steve: Did you have rights for Nate before you get it?

Dave: No, I still don’t have rights for Nate. I don’t know Nate, Nate knows about it. I don’t think he wants it and and that’s not unusual Steve. So, you know, some of these guys just don’t want something really really cool made out of them and I don’t know why and I would love it myself but you know it is it is what it is.

Steve: So you’re not selling the Nate Diaz?

Dave: No

Steve: okay.

Dave: No, I’m selling the Nate Diaz bobblehead. It would probably be my biggest seller because he’s such an iconic figure and the bobblehead that I made is such an iconic pose and it’s and it’s like really really nice but you know it is it is what it is man.

Steve: Actually, So you took a huge risk in the beginning just making a bobblehead when you’re not allowed to sell them yet. And then you use that as a prototype to get other fighters to sign on

Dave: Correct that that was my exact blueprint. I would just I was hoping that other Fighters would see what a good job I was doing with this Nate Diaz Bobble and I never I never was you know, playing smoke and mirrors and saying I had Nate. I’m just I was just saying here’s what I have made so far. When can let me make one out of you. So..

Steve: Who’s your first big fighter that you signed and had the conversation go?

Dave: Yeah, so I was getting nose left and right no no, no, no. No, I did not understand it. My chin was in my chest. I was kicking the can down the road. I was wondering what the hell did I just do with a year of my life and all this money and time and I was I was getting, you know, the thoughts of you know, the self talk. And the self-doubt was starting to creep in my mind Steve like you know, what am I doing, man? And I got a phone call from a friend who said they had a I swear to God who had a friend who had a friend who knew Dan Henderson and Dan Henderson was the guy that I originally wanted to buy the bobblehead of he’s my favorite fighter of all time. So when I heard that there was like four degrees of separation that Dan was interested in the artwork that I was doing for the Bobblehead, I just absolutely lost my mind. I was I couldn’t believe it. So then it got real real real fast, and they said Dan wants to talk to you in an hour.

And I said, okay and you know, I’m at this point. I’m just a total complete Fanboy. I’m just you know a nut for this do Dan Henderson and I am about to talk to him an hour. I couldn’t I was pacing, you know sweating and then the phone rang. It was Dan Henderson and the conversation couldn’t have gone better. It was just like we knew each other and it was great and he’s like, yeah, I’m interest I saw it looks really cool. I think it’s awesome. And then he’s like, you know, we are both in Vegas at the same time and he’s like, well, what are you doing tomorrow? And I said, yeah nothing. All right. Well, it’s meet. So I ended up meeting Dan Henderson at the MGM and I showed him. You know, what I was working on and the hardwork..

Steve: Is this the Diaz one, that you showed him?

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, I showed him everything.

Steve: Okay.

Dave: I still remember it and he was like, yeah, let’s do it and it was like, okay, let’s do it and it so I just went straight to work on Dan Henderson and about some about I would say six months later. I released my first one my first bobblehead to the public that I have the rights to that I could sell and it was Dan Henderson sales for that bobblehead Steve, were garbage.

Steve: How many did you make?

Dave: I made 1500, I thought

Steve: oh my goodness, okay

Dave: you know what, Dan Henderson’s got Dan Henderson’s got millions of fans. I think 1500 might even be too low. I think I sold about 50 in the first month.

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Steve: Okay, so you invested what is that like 30 grand?

Dave: Hmm.

Steve: Wow. Okay. How did you sell those 50?

Dave: you know, I just built an e-commerce site and I had Dan promote it on his social media and I promote it. I promoted it to all 200 of my followers on Instagram. And you know, I just I paid for some Instagram ads and Facebook ads. I just really thought Steve, I thought that you know, because because the Dan Henderson says it’s insane. It’s To fly spent a lot of time on it. It’s a very famous image of one of his really famous moves and I really thought I was going to hold it up to the sky and MMA fans were just going to come flocking because this has never been done before it is awesome looking I was very proud of how the final product came out and I couldn’t be more wrong. I hide I was so wrong, Steve. Nobody came nobody. I just couldn’t believe it and I thought to myself. Oh my God, Dave. I spent all this time learning how to make the perfect bobblehead that I spent zero time on e-commerce and learning how to sell them and it’s still kind of my problem today Steve to be honest with you. You know, I don’t know a lot about e-commerce marketing, you know, Steve. I got a full-time career. I got a serious job. I manage a lot of Money, I have it’s you know, my pulse on the my finger on the pulse of a lot of family’s Estates, right?

So I can’t I can’t just like sleep on that job. So so every extra time that I have I dedicate to the bobbleheads, it’s late at night. It’s early in the morning. So, you know finding the time to learn about e-commerce, it’s difficult. That’s a really difficult task for me, but I’m taking small steps towards that you know, so when people were out there listening, Right now and and they don’t know if they can do it and and they’re having you know doubts you got to keep going man. You got to keep going and and you know, the way I met you through the five minute pitch if you know, it was an awesome. Awesome thing for me. I didn’t win you know, and that’s why I’m still a little bit hurt from that. You’re human, right? and you make it to the finals and you start thinking about winning and you start thinking about what this can do for you and your company

If you were to win and you start it starts getting real and then closer and closer gets it starts getting more and more real and then when it doesn’t happen, how man you get you get, you know, at least I get depressed and sad and you know, I have to keep my you know, there’s this old saying Steve, that Mike Tyson used to say about fighting and it was it goes like this. It says everybody’s got a good game plan until they get punched in the face. And I felt like man, I really got punched in the face hard.

Steve: Dave, dave, let’s be realistic here. You’re doing pretty well. You want to share how much you’ve made this year so far in the first half year.

Dave: Yeah. I mean, you know, dude, I’m not throwing a poo poo party on myself. I’m so proud of myself. You know for sure. No, I’m doing really well Steve in the first month of my business and my Bobblehead business I made I swear to God, I think I made maybe like 1,500 2,000 dollars by month 7. I was up to making 25 grand in a month and you know my last release my last fighter, I broke my old record and I think I made about 17 18 Grand in the first few days.

Steve Yeah. So, how are you marketing? How you improve your marketing since then? So what how do you get your sales? Is it just the fighter promoting? Its own bobblehead or your own email list? How are you doing it?

Dave: Yeah, so, you know, I’ve been very conscious of my social media and social media has been driving my business for sure. So when I wasn’t getting any Sales with the Dan and you know, very little sales with my next, you know fighter. I thought you know, I got to take the bull by the horns and I got to maybe be more out there and be the face of the company and show, show MMA fans that this isn’t just a business or a conglomerate trying to do a money grab that I’m a huge martial arts fan just like they are and I’m just like they are as far as being a fan first so once I started doing that and..

Steve: so what is that Instagram and Facebook?

Dave: Yeah, Instagram and Facebook and for anyone out there listening, I don’t care if you’re selling yarn or red worm composting bins. You gotta get out there and let people know who you are because that is where you build community and it could be Community for anything. For me, It just happens to be martial arts. And once you do that, and once people see that you’re passionate about what you do then you start getting trusted and hopefully people like you and then they’ll buy your next product recurring sales is a big part of my business. I always have felt like once people by one, they’re gonna buy two and once they buy two they’re going to be a collector and once there a collector Steve I can count on them for buying my next one. No matter who the fighter is and that’s and that has surely been the case so far and it’s been, you know, wonderful to get involved in the community. And have people you know, as you know, quote-unquote fans of that of the bobbleheads that I make and I’m really appreciative of that and I’m grateful for that.

Steve: How do you built the community? Do you do Facebook lives or what? Are your post like?

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. I do Facebook lives. I do Instagram lives. I do giveaways. I’ll let people know like today for example is the first week of the first day of international fight week tomorrow, I’m taking off for Vegas. I got three big signings for with three different fighter of my Fighters. And I want to let people know about it and I have a huge announcement to make with one of these Fighters a massive announcement. And this fighter is giving away something like incredible Steve. So as soon as we’re done here, I’m going to make a post saying in two hours join me on Instagram live. I have a huge announcement to make and I’m going to give away a bobblehead and people hop on their interactive. I ask them to ask me questions and you know, a lot of people have really great interesting questions, and I you know, I answer them and give them the time let them know what’s going on and I feel like it’s I’m building a little Community. I feel like that’s really what everyone should do in any Niche that they have where people, where other people are involved.

Steve: How did you start out when you had zero social media following what were you posting about? Like, obviously, you don’t have these announcements all the time. Right?

Dave: Yeah. No, I was just posting cool pictures just photos. I love photography. So I post pictures of Fighters and my comments, you know about the fighter and then I’d post and then when I had my first bobblehead I post pictures of you know, the painting of the first one or you know photos of just the mold or photos of me and Dan or me and Chuck or the signing of them. You know, I was just real Grassroots just taking little baby steps posting whatever I could before I started getting like really cool content where people would tune in and or set their timer to tune in and listen or watch.

Steve: How often do you post as often as I can?

Dave: I don’t want to be one of these guys to just post to post So sometimes I won’t post I well. Well, let me take that. Let me take a step backwards. I post every day on Instagram every single day is you know, as you have to you have to be out there you have to be relevant you have to be engaged. So whether I’m posting something that has to do with my bobble heads or something that’s going on in the MMA world with a particular bike. There’s fights almost every week. So there’s always content to be posted. There’s always cool photography to be posted but as Far as be posting about the bobbleheads or a video about what I’m doing maybe every couple weeks. I’ll hop on I don’t want to over saturate. I don’t want to seem like I’m out there. You’re always trying to sell there’s that Gary vaynerchuk book that I just recently heard about it jab jab jab right hook if that’s I didn’t know about that concept, but that’s the concept that I’ve been living for the past, you know few year or a couple of years, you know, I want to give give give and I love Giving these things away for free.

I love it. You know it’s going to drive me into the Poorhouse but I love for people to have these so I’ll give give and so then when it comes time to ask for something, I don’t feel bad. I feel like I have a community. I feel like people want to support and it’s been successful so far

Steve: and are you running ads also or is it just Strictly Organic?

Dave: Organic dude, I mean bare minimal, I gotta tell you Steven in 2019. I think my ad budget or the ad money spent so far on Facebook and Instagram combined is about a hundred and fifty dollars

Steve: Nice. Okay. So all this is organic and are you getting more from Instagram or Facebook?

Dave: Definitely more from Instagram. I feel like that’s you know, the more optimal place to be I feel like that’s where everyone’s trending to I have about 2,000 followers on Facebook and I have about maybe 11,000 followers on Instagram. I’ve gotten those followers and all in one year and I feel like I touch all my social media platforms, but I really concentrate on Instagram. I want people to know that that’s where they’re going to be able to meet me or see me or hear the news or message me and then the other places are just kind of ancillary.

Steve: So in terms of getting them to your website, is it just your link in the bio?

Dave: Yeah Link in the bio and you know, it’s pretty it’s pretty self-explanatory to MMA bobblehead.

Steve: That’s true.

Dave: But I try to get these fighters to link me up to to tag me. I asked people to tag. Me when when they get their bobblehead, I repost when they tag me, I’m really interactive with anyone that wants to be interactive with me. I answer every single question that comes in. It’s always me. I don’t have a social media manager and I really want to treat every single person who buys My Bobblehead like they’re the only person that is buying My Bobblehead and I do I have that that Concept in mind that it’s it’s one person at a time Steve and and that’s you’re going to build a strong business. I see I see these other MMA businesses or just other businesses out there in general that they have 30,000 followers on Instagram. They posted a video and they get 200 likes. It’s like what the hell is that? What kind of followers do you have there that mean it’s obvious that you you’re buying or you’re not doing something right? And I hear all these people, you know touting and teaching how to get more followers, but that’s not the way it works man.

The way it works is organically you can’t just buy followers it Don’t you know unless you just want the swipe up feature. So when I have 11,000 followers, I know for sure that these people want to be there and I know for sure that these people are real people. They’re not Bots at least, you know most of them because they’re all interacting with me. I post a picture I get a ton of likes and a ton of views and I like that.

Steve: So Dave, we’re kind of running out of time here and I wanted to fire off these questions just for the people on the sidelines who have yet to start their business. What would you say is the biggest challenge in starting your store? And how did you overcome it?

Dave: Steve, there are so many challenges when it comes to you know, what Steve that Mike Tyson saying everyone. Everyone’s got a great plant game plan until their punch of it. It couldn’t be more true for e-commerce Steve you turn the corner when you’re starting your business in e-commerce. You don’t know if someone’s gonna punch you in the face or hand you a pot of gold you have no clue what’s around the corner when you don’t know anything about e-commerce, at least this is my story, okay? and it is very very Cold and when people are out there and they want to make a quick Buck or they want to you know, just they think that it’s going to be simple you better prepare yourself because it is challenging so you have to mentally get prepared. So the biggest challenge on opening your Ecommerce store. Anyone who’s out there who wants to start don’t give up. You gotta keep fighting guys no matter what don’t give up.

You gotta when when when life punches you right? The nose you gotta punch back. You got to keep fighting and I know it sounds cliche. I know what does Steve and I know you know, it sounds cliché when I say it’s easy to stay down and it’s hard to get back up. But you gotta remember why you’re doing it. You got to muster every bit of energy in your body to stand back up to clench your fist and punch back because you can get knocked out and e-commerce really easy if you’re if you’re not mentally ready.

Steve: So for the beginners also, how much money did you invest to get started?

Dave: Oh gosh. I probably you know, it was it was like in tear Steve so I probably had about seven grand Seven Grand or so to get started and then, you know, my next round of funding was five grand and then it went to you know, another five and so it just went in layers and you know, I built safety nets for myself because in my particular business I felt like if there It was no interest. I could have probably pull the ripcord at any time and just thrown in the towel. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I would see that there’s no interest at all.

But as I saw that there was interest I would you know, I’d feed the machine some more but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing Steve and you especially if you have a private label thing and you really think that people could use what you’re making or doing. You got to keep going you got to keep funding and it probably won’t stop, you know for a while. So just be prepared.

Steve: If you were to start over again. You do differently this time around?

Dave: I’d have more money Stephen to begin with

Steve: Ha ha ha

Dave: Because really, you know, and I mean it’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of not a joke. I would a lot more I would a lot more money for allocate more money for different things and when I’m saying more money, I’m not saying like unreasonable amount of money. I wouldn’t say. Oh I get, you know tap into my 401k or you know, go borrow tens of thousands, but I’d probably just spend wiser and I’d probably have more in the gas tank to do things. Things that I think needed to be done.

Steve: Where are some places where you spent your money unwisely?

Dave: Well for me personally, it was experimentation with different ways on making bobbleheads. So I

Steve: That sounds like a necessary expense to me though.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it could be but you know, but I’m kind of a creative dude. So sometimes I’m you know, thinking outside the box a little bit too much one thing that I think I can tell the listeners who are just starting out about ad spending do it wisely. Don’t just throw it into the abyss. That’s one thing. Definitely Steve. I would I would start over I You know, I thought okay. Well, here’s a Let’s do an ad for $200 for the next 10 days and I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing Man II didn’t know if the results are great. I didn’t have like a pixel return. I still don’t I still don’t even know what I’m doing to talk about it that much but I do know that I just felt like I threw the money into the abyss without having data that could be measurable on if I’m spending my money wisely and I think that if you’re going to spend money on ads be as prepared as possible and maybe even bring in a consultant to help you out. Just don’t do it on your own because you don’t want to just throw money into the into the social media abyss.

Steve: I mean ultimately I think the way you did is the right way you start out organically you figure out who your audience is what they like and then you buy ads so yeah probably had a good point now where if you were to run ads today would they would do a lot better than when you didn’t know anything

Dave: Steve, one of the biggest takeaways. Is that I had from the five-minute picth was a line that Scott Volcker said and Scott said man Dave’s got a really cool product, but nobody knows about it. And that is a problem. That’s a problem. That’s a problem for anybody that that has a really cool product. You have to let people know about it. So what you do is you do anything Steve to let people know about it you go on Facebook live you go on Instagram live. If and if you’re camera shy get over it.

Steve: ha ha ha

Dave: Period and and there’s just no other way about it, you know it because people don’t want to read blogs Steve people. I mean sure maybe people are people are out there that read blogs on certain things whatever. It’s just the easier the easiest way to spoon feed people and getting to know your product is video and if you’re out there often and people see that you really care about what you’re doing. And they like what you do they will like you they will trust you and they will buy from you and they’re going to be a fan of yours. So I would say that’s the biggest thing that I would probably even do more if I were to start all over again.

Steve: So Dave I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell the audience about where they can find you and what’s going on. What’s the latest, man?

Dave: Oh Steve. Listen, three years ago this month. I came up with this idea of the bobbleheads. This week is international fight. Week, it’s my three-year anniversary. I’m having signings with cowboy Cerrone with Brian Ortego, Guillana Gingecheck, Bruce Buffer. It’s unbelievable. I went from being a guy a fan with an idea to now working with these athletes hand-in-hand and doing business with them and having autograph signings with them. I’m in I’m totally involved in the community now and it’s all due to hard work Steve. It’s I’m really proud of where I’ve come I’m really proud of the work that I’ve put in. I hope that your listeners out there can resonate with my story and know that if he just roll up your sleeves and you go to work and you take every day like it’s your last day and you kick the covers off your body when the sun peeks into your bedroom and you just work and work as hard as you can there will be results for sure.

I guarantee it. So where I’m at today Steve I couldn’t be happier. I’m dealing with the biggest Fighters. That have ever lived in mixed martial arts icons of the sport. Literally. I mean at the tippy tippy top the one percenters. I’m working with right now. I could I I pinch myself. It’s so surreal. I am so happy and you know, I’m going to keep going I treat every day like it’s a new day and I want to keep working harder and harder and harder and I’m so excited and I hope that people that are listening, you know, really hear my story and work hard. And don’t give up.

Steve: His websites MMAbobblehead.com By the way, if anyone wants to go check it out.

Dave: out go go go to the website. You can see how how they’re made how they’re painted my story go see the bobbleheads for yourself because you’re I know you’re thinking bobbleheads. What the hell Bobbleheads have been the same for go. Check out my bobbleheads. You won’t be disappointed. Even if you’re not a mixed martial arts venue just an e-commerce company starting up your own Journey. Go check out the site,

Steve: you know one thing I forgot to ask you this Dave is the UFC noticing this and are they going to start licensing their the athletes themselves?

Dave: The UFC is definitely noticed. I have spoken in bye-bye text to Dana White a couple times who’s the owner of the UFC and I’ve had a couple meetings with the UFC. Yeah, they’re notice it but to exceed the UFC is not in the merchandising business. They pretty much make the same merchandise year after year after year and you know, no disrespect to the UFC but it’s not that great, you know, it’s the same kind of stuff hats t-shirts keychains things like that. No, they’re not making high-end stuff because their business is making the best fights possible. That’s their business not merchandise, and I don’t know if they have a big interest in that so, you know, I have dreams and I have aspirations of you know, maybe partnering up with the UFC one day and maybe that dream will come true and I can come back on your show and tell you how that all went down, but they are taking notice.

Steve: Okay, cool. Well Dave. Hey man. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. Your story is truly inspirational. I love your passionate it always oozes whenever I talk to you and I’m sure the audience noticed that too and I hope a lot of the MMA fans out there. We’ll go and check out your site.

Dave: Thanks for having me Steve. I mean, I really really appreciate you inviting me on your show. It means more than anything to me. I go on a bunch of MMA shows all the time. And you know, I’m not saying to take it for granted, but you know, there’s sometimes in life where you really sit back and go. Wow. Wow, man, like for me. Wow Dave that this is really an accomplishment dude and for me Steve, this is one of those moments.

Steve: Cool. Hey, Dave that that means a lot to me, man, and I really appreciate you coming on.

Dave: Thanks Steve.

Steve: Alright man, take care.

Dave: Take care.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, Dave took me to my first UFC event a few months ago. And since then I’ve been hooked and there are a whole bunch of deals that we didn’t talk about during this episode because it happened after it was recorded. MMA bobblehead is going to be big for more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode277.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.

I also want to thank Kaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Kaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com

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One thought on “277: An Interview With MMA Bobblehead Founder Dave Manley”

  1. David Crabill says:

    Such a great storyteller! If the voters and judges had followed the whole season, he might have won!

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