I came across a graphic in my Twitter feed the other day. It was a convoluted sketch of how to market to millennials for a bank. It talked about trust. And how trust is what millennials value the most and that’s how you’ll get to them as a consumer base.

Ironically, millennials don’t trust banks because of how the credit system has worked in the US, encouraging young adults to sign up for credit cards they can’t pay off. Sure, they certainly kept their promise for buying whatever you want on a bit of plastic but they failed to mention the crippling debt that would follow you around.

So how does this relate to coffee and marketing?

In any industry, building trust takes time and effort. You can’t just say you’re a great brand. Customers don’t take brands at their word anymore. It’s why personal recommendations from friends and family are still worth so much. It’s also why influencer marketing has worked. You trust them more than you trust the brand.

In coffee, there are several ways where trust is taken into account:

  • The values you tout
  • The packaging copy that describes your ethos or producer partnerships
  • The customer data you collect (to combat this, you need to be transparent with your data collection- article here, HBR gated)
  • The things you say you’ll do (and then actually doing them)

But fear not! There are ways to build trust as a brand. I might go more into detail in a future blog post, but here’s a good getting started list:

  • Do what you say you’ll do. Don’t say you’re about transparency reports and not file one. Don’t claim that your cafe will support the community but not hire from it.
  • Keep your brand identity consistent. This article goes in-depth on how to build this up with quality content. tl;dr: Don’t move away from your values for the sake of originality.
  • Actually talk to your customers and listen to them. There is a difference between talking and listening. The latter requires you to pay attention to a customer’s needs (even if the needs didn’t come up initially, it’s your job to listen). You don’t have to say you’ll work on every new suggestion. In fact, you can say no. But I’d rather have been listened to than completely talked over or ignored.
  • Add reviews. I know, we’re not always a fan of them but they still get read. Reviews build up your reputation and in turn, customer trust.

Customers are following you on social media for a reason. But building trust takes time and like any relationship – can just as easily be broken.