Image source: Trello
With multiple channels and multiple agents or freelancers, managing the chaos of integrated marketing into a smooth, coordinated effort can be challenging.
While there are several techniques and tools to do this, one standout is through the use of project management software.
Trello, in particular, is extremely easy to use and is a fantastic and free (F&F) project management tool. It works like a drag and drop pinboard, with cards, lists and boards and users and is very helpful in implementing SCRUM or Kanban project management styles.
To use Trello to manage your projects:
- Create one unified board for your marketing effort, not several
- Create lists for your wishlist, approved, review/blocked, in progress, complete and reference cards
- Create one card for each project, or each part of a project if it is large
- Make use of checklists for each card to define deliverables
- Label cards with colours for better organisation and filtering
- Assign users and due dates
Here is more detail on each below.
It is worth clarifying that this approach is best suited towards managing projects, not processes. Projects that reoccur are not ideal to run it will add an unneeded layer of process to a routine task.
For example, setting up MailChimp or a Hubspot account would be a project for this approach. Operating your monthly email marketing or contact collation through a Trello process would be unnecessary.
Create one board
It is tempting to ‘over-silo’ your project management efforts, by creating a board for each area of marketing or each project. For example, one board for social media and another for blogging.
I advise users to create just one board.
The reason is this. Often, users do not particularly enjoy the slightly additional effort required of maintaining admin work such as providing updates on projects.
With Trello and other project management systems, it is tempting for team members to ignore the movement or procedures of tasks in order to ‘just get on with it’.
However, if you create a single board, the actions of proactive users create an environment where not following the correct procedures is more visible. This can significantly encourage ‘dormant’ users to participate correctly.
Once you have a board created, you should create a series of lists.
Strategic use of lists can create a workflow process that makes visualising and coordinating multiple projects and tasks easier to manage.
The set of lists I commonly use are:
- Wishlist: for tasks, features and projects that are not yet approved
- Approved: for tasks that are ready to go and delegated
- Blocked: for tasks that require intervention, more resources, problem-solving
- In progress: for tasks underway
- Review: for tasks that are ready for review and approval
- Complete: for completed projects
- Reference: for cards where you can enter details of commonly used resources, such as weblinks
The idea here is that project managers create tasks in the backlog and move them to the approved list when delegated.
At that point, team members or freelance agents can then move the tasks from in progress to complete (or blocked) as the work is underway.
The purpose of putting blocked tasks before in progress is a reminder that team members are aiming to get as many projects to review/completion as possible. The other benefit here is that the blocked or review list summarise all the tasks that require attention for problem-solving or further resourcing.
Managing lists in this way gives the project manager the benefit of seeing the progress of a task without interrupting that particular person ‘just to know what’s happening’.
Another common temptation is to then fill these lists with hundreds of microtasks, such as ‘sign up for this product’.
The issue with this is that the board becomes far too long to give you a good visual oversight without heavy filtering.
A better alternative is to chunk up tasks into small projects, such as “Setup Birthday Autoresponder” or “Create Wireframes for XYZ Website”.
Try to take advantage of checklists as much as possible. This can be useful for outlining the completion criteria of work, such as quality or testing criteria.
Another benefit is that checklists feel good to complete. And you can see this progress (both the project manager and team member) as work goes on.
The other benefit is that a project manager can ensure that a particular action has been thought of and not overlooked. It is much harder to argue that spell checks were forgotten if the item on the checklist was made clear and ticked off by the responsible person.
This benefit is extremely valuable for delicate tasks or tasks that require specific attention to details.
With the board created, list series in place and cards on, you can now make use of labels.
Labels are colour tags that you can use to filter your projects. You could choose to label all tasks with a particular channel in one colour, such as email marketing or SEO.
It is not worth labeling tasks by a particular person and manager responsible, as this can be done through the assignment of users.
Assign users and deadlines
Finally, it is time to assign users and deadlines to your tasks.
To assign users, click on your card and choose the option to add team members from the list of users available.
For deadlines, add the due date to the task. This may be the end of the sprint you are working on or the date that an item is due to go out (such as a newsletter or PR placement).
Using this system you will be able to better manage multiple marketing projects under a single Trello board. This board should be:
- Easy to comprehend
- Simple to see what is currently in progress
- Quick to identify blocks and approval items
Trello is free, and you can make an account here.