Tevis and her four full-time employees work from the company’s office showroom location in Sayreville, New Jersey.
Tevis started hiring in January 2008 — four months after Little Things Favors was launched. She ensures all employees are trained in every role so the business isn’t affected if someone is absent.
“We have tried summer employees, high school co-op programs, and hired through the local colleges for temp help during our peak months. But I prefer to hire permanent employees because they have a vested interest in the company.”
One full-timer handles customer service; Tevis’s office manager can run the day-to-day operations if necessary. The full-time graphic designer assists with customer service and social media campaigns. And the social media director also handles advertising and marketing.
Tevis’s young assistant manager knows the company inside-out as well, joining her in 2008.
“I have trained her in SEO and she works with me on the site’s continual updates. She also blogs, writes copy, answers our phones — she can do everything.”
Search Engine Optimization
Tevis learned SEO hands-on since 2003 from books, blogs, and by trial and error. She is clearly good at it, getting Little Things Favors on the first page of Google for many of its keywords.
“There is no formal college degree for SEO. So every SEO ‘guru’ is self-taught in some way. I have performed all of the SEO, SEM, SMM and SMO work and I compete with some very ‘big box’ retailers in the top spots.”
She stresses that retailers should never duplicate content, but write original material that people will want to share with their friends online.
“When you do produce content, be it articles, blogs, infographics, or videos, make sure there are social sharing buttons so your information can be shared.”
She also advises retailers not to buy links from companies that promise you a certain number of links in a matter of days.
“Search engines want your link profile to feature 'natural' keywords and in a variety of websites. They know if you have purchased them as your link profile will begin to expand rapidly — an immediate signal that you are building unnatural links.”
Tevis said social media is becoming important in driving traffic.
“Statistics show that 10 percent of Pinterest users buy through photos they have found on the site. Put your company profiles on all the major social networks and interact with your user base. Additionally, users on social media don’t like sales pushed onto them. So find what posts will best engage your fans.
Tevis suggests you provide photos, links, ask your fans questions, post contests, create information, and generally give them “exclusive” content.
Pay-per-click advertising has not worked for Little Things Favors. Tevis said she has gained the best return on investment through affiliate marketing campaigns through ShareASale.
“Our affiliates promote us through their websites and blogs and the more traffic they send our way, the more commission they earn through each sale they generate. We pay our affiliates 10 percent per sale they generate. So it is a win-win situation. They send us the most targeted traffic, better than any PPC campaign!”
Little Things Favors sources its products through industry trade shows. Established in the industry for almost 10 years, the company now has vendors approach them.
Tevis launched LittleThingsBaby.com as a sister website because she saw that as the next step in the customer acquisition line.
“We also added party favors for all of life's events to LittleThingsFavors.com to capture repeat customers. My website now boasts over 7,000 products for weddings, bridal showers, and engagement parties. But we also have an increasing line of birthday party, holiday party, and religious event favors.”
Tevis notes marked differences between Generation X (older) and Generation Y (younger) in what they prefer to buy for their weddings.
“Gen X mostly buys traditional wedding items, while Gen Y wants unique, quirky, handmade and something different for their wedding. Gen Y definitely wants their wedding to stand out and be like no other wedding their friends and family have been to,” Tevis said.
Little Things Favors’ longest-running, best-selling items include personalized apothecary jars and personalized lip balms.
“We help consumers who are looking for certain items. We had several brides recently ask us to find a producer for personalized ice tea mixes for their upcoming wedding. I contacted our beverage supplier and requested they look into ice tea mixes. I am happy to say we expect personalized ice tea and sweet tea mixes to be coming out soon.”
Little Things Favors has a blog, 2,386 fans on Facebook, 1,472 Twitter followers, 75 followers on Pinterest, 79 on Tumblr, and the company also has a presence on Foursquare.
Tevis has different strategies for each channel. “We use Facebook for contests, funny photos, questions, polls, and exclusive content for fans. We engage in chats and conversations with fellow industry professionals on Twitter. We pin unique items on Pinterest.”
Tevis believes Little Things Favors’ best promotional tool is happy customers who give good word-of-mouth promotion. The company obtains feedback via direct email surveys and invites customers to review them on Wedding Wire.
Brides-to-be can be anxious customers, so the Little Things Favors' showroom is open to the public so they can see the items they want to purchase in person.
Little Things Favors offers money-back and low price guarantees, and has received much positive feedback from customers that its prices and service is significantly better than larger companies that also sell the same products on the web.
Customers can find the company in the Association of Wedding Professionals, and the Jersey Shore Wedding Association, and Tevis has helped contribute to the books Planet Wedding and How To Plan Your Wedding and Enjoy It!
Tevis believes it is a mistake to hire friends and family because they seem to think they have an advantage and do not have to follow the same rules as other employees.
“One of my friends left her position here because of personal reasons. We were very upset to see her leave and left her position open for quite some time hoping she would return. But ultimately it hurt my business as my other employees had to pick up her job duties.”
Tevis also regrets paying $1,800 per month for outsourced SEO.
“The company was charging me $1,800 a month to tweak five keywords and write three articles, something I can now do myself in a few hours. That only lasted two months.”
She said pay-per-click advertising with Google, Yahoo!, and Bing just didn’t convert customers to sales.
"It brought traffic, but the customers just weren’t ready to buy. We convert much better managing our own social media, SEO, and social media. That is our biggest cost savings.
“I advise a new retailer to learn the basics of SEO, SMM [social media marketing] and SEM [search engine marketing] themselves by buying books, reading blogs and educating themselves before they hire any outside companies. This way they know what the company should and should not be doing.’
Tevis cites one of her biggest successes as hitting number 1 for her top keyword organically in the summer of 2012.
The other success was being featured on The Today Show in 2010.
“They asked us to send them samples to feature on the show. We were featured for our ‘double duty wedding favors’ and our ‘inexpensive favors’. It gave us a huge spike in traffic for that day, although it was hard to tell how much more in sales we did just from being on the show alone as we were already ranked number 3 organically for our main search term ‘wedding favors’,” Tevis said.