We’re back for a third week of ‘Tool Time Wednesday’; a weekly series of blog posts about a tool which we feel will make your day-to-day marketing role a little bit easier. Last week we walked you through IFTTT, an automation tool that allows you to build powerful connections between your favourite Apps in order to automate the boring, repetitive actions that you may not otherwise have time to do.

Our friends over at SEER Interactive in Philadelphia have published a comprehensive list of IFTTT recipes for marketers on their blog so check it out if you’re still confused about how to get the most out of the tool.

Our Tool Of The Week

This week’s tool was very easy to choose. On an average day at Learn Inbound HQ, our desks look a little bit like this..

We’re not particularly proud of it, but our ability to effectively organise simple tasks is usually decided by whoever has the biggest packet of Post-It notes to play with. Needless to say, our office supplies budget couldn’t be stretched much further, so in a similar vein to last week’s post we wanted to find another tool that would make a boring task a little bit easier.

This week we would like to introduce you to Trello, a free online collaborative project management tool which uses a Kanban approach to help you organise your projects into easily digestible tasks that can be assigned to different members of your team.

Each task (card) you create is organised on a “board” with columns used to represent the different stages in the process at which the task is currently at. Sounds simple, right? It’s easy to take a quick glance at a board in Trello and identify the tasks being worked on at the moment and by which members of your team. As you make progress with a task, it gets moved across the board to a different column in order to visualise how far along it is in the development process.

As you can see in the example below, we have a board setup called ‘Learn Inbound’ with columns titled ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, ‘Done’, ‘Weekly Tasks’ and ‘Projects’. This allows us to quickly see what tasks have yet to be worked on, what’s we’re doing at the moment, what has recently been completed, any recurring weekly tasks and long-term projects for the website. You can rename the columns to whatever you think is more appropriate for your team.

If you’re thinking this sounds a little bit too simple for your team; don’t worry. You can also be more specific about the details of the task by clicking a card to enter a description, make a checklist of items that need to be completed, attach files, assign particular team members and choose a particular due date for it.

If you’re finding that your board is getting a little bit too crowded with tasks, Trello allows you to create as many boards as you want so you can separate out larger projects which you may want to track in greater detail. Remember that any changes one person makes to a board are automatically visible to everyone else, so it can be beneficial if you everyone follows the same example for adding cards, but a nightmare if you haven’t agreed best practice for your team. You’ve been warned!

How Do I Get Started With Trello?

  1. Create a Trello Account – It’ll only take about a minute to do:  https://trello.com/signup?returnUrl=
  2. Create a New “Board” – Call it something that is memorable and relevant to the team you work in e.g. “Marketing Team”
  3. Setup Your Lists – By default you will have lists (columns) for “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done”. Do you have any recurring tasks or larger projects you’re working on? Maybe create separate lists for these tasks so there’s less clutter on your board.
  4. Add Tasks – This is the fun part. Click “Add a card” at the bottom of your “To Do” list to create a card for each task you’ve yet to start work on. Be sure to add an appropriate description describing the task to be completed and then add a label so it can be easily identified later on when you’re quickly scanning your eye over your board.
  5. Let’s Prioritise – You have your tasks divided up into cards for you to take action on. These now need to be prioritised by placing them into the appropriate list on your board. If you haven’t added any due dates to your cards, now might be a good time to do so.
  6. Never Forget – Be sure to review your board(s) every day so they don’t become outdated. It’s easy to set up new tools like this, but even harder to stay on top of them on a regular basis. Be sure to give your team members a gentle nudge to update Trello each day so you can easily show your manager what tasks you’re working on.

We’re big fans of Trello due to it being a free interactive visual platform that can be easily tailored to our needs. While it may not provide some of the more advanced job management features that Basecamp has by default, it certainly is a great project management solution for smaller groups who want to move beyond the tradition to-do lists and Post-It notes that often clutter desks.

If you’ve been using Trello within your company, let us know in the comments below!

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