Jenn Chen, Coffee Marketer & Journalist, Freelance
Company: Freelance, Jenn Chen
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Sector: Coffee Media & Marketing
tLBCC: What makes you choose to work with one client, media outlet, or publication over another? How do they earn your trust?
Jenn Chen: Generally, my clients find me via word of mouth or by referral. They have to make it through my process of evaluating their needs and my skills that may or may not fit those needs. While this process is constantly being adjusted and reevaluated, I’ve learned through the years that having certain processes in place, like asking for a 50% deposit on projects or requesting everyone sign a contract, ensures that everyone is on the same page. Because I mostly work on a remote basis, excellent communication on both ends is how I’ve established the trust. So far, it’s worked out!
I only take on clients that I can absolutely help out. And they also need to be invested in the process. So at the beginning, I tell them clearly what I need from them and what to expect from me. This is the baseline. Over the course of working together, there’s mutual respect and a building of trust.
For publications, I look at their history of published articles and see what topics they’ve covered. I also take a look at their slate of writers and its diversity (or lack thereof).
tLBCC: What steps do you take to actively build trust with your marketing clients. How do you ensure they can rely on you, your voice, and your service?
Jenn Chen: Ha! Okay, I totally answered this accidentally already, but I can elaborate.
From my end, I have a specific proposal, contract, and on-boarding process. I try hard to set up expectations clearly to avoid any scope creep. In my experience, professional communication is the key to any long-lasting and mutually respectful business relationship.
I think some of these questions are framed in a way where you expect the trust to be non existent at the beginning, which sets the answer up for failure. If clients come in via referral, they already trust me to some extent. They trusted their referral source to give them a good recommendation and they trust me to tell them what they should do.
I’m all about honesty with potential clients. If I can’t help them, I won’t take them on. If they’re looking for something that I don’t offer or I can only partially offer, then I’ll recommend that they find a different person. For current clients, beyond my on-boarding process, I make sure that communication is smooth, my invoicing is professional, and that I clarify anything if I get confused. People will ask questions like “should I use hashtags on Instagram” and some people will say a blanket “yes.” Whereas, I will ask why they’re asking and see if using them matches their goals for the network. Furthermore, we’ll also go into which ones, how to find new ones, and when to use them.
tLBCC: Do you have any other thoughts on building trust along the coffee supply chain?
Jenn Chen: Honestly, I think a lot of problems can be solved through people being more clear in their communication and expectations. Being able to actively listen to the other person goes a long way. I think a lot of roasters also need to think about the words they use to describe their coffee and the people who work on the farms. Are they “your farmers” or “your partners”? If you are using photos to glorify their work, are you paying them a fair wage? Is your language talking about “saving” the “poor farmers” or structured in a way where it sounds like you are the hero?