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Making a More Powerful Point: Using Apple iBooks as a Corporate Sales Tool

The 3 i’s of storytelling

The most innovative and memorable presenters connect with their audience, engaging them one-on-one, without relying solely on the “crutch” that slides provide. In fact, compelling communication is characterized by what Sparks Grove refers to as the “3 I’s”. This communication is:

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iBooks as a presentation tool

An emerging platform with high potential to be a more engaging corporate presentation tool is Apple’s iBooks. Apple’s development program, iBooks Author, allows anyone to quickly and easily create engaging multi-touch books. Originally launched as a self-publishing tool targeting textbook publishers, iBooks Author is interesting, visually-engaging and flexible enough to use for sales presentations or other critical corporate communications. The key features and benefits of iBooks are numerous. They include:

flexibility

iBooks can be used for a wide variety of communications, including sales presentations (stand out from the competition), training sessions (increase retention of subject matter and provide a digital leave-behind to reinforce concepts), product launches (demo the product using a 3D model ) and vision and strategy communications (inspire the audience by showing a video of the the vision). And that’s just the beginning.

modularity

One of the key features of iBooks is the variety of widgets the author can use to provide a richer experience.

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non-linear storylines

With traditional communications mechanisms it’s often tricky to match any unexpected flow in the conversation with a pre-built slide deck. This can severely disrupt the continuity of dialogue. iBooks provides a more flexible navigation that can easily accommodate jumping around, while still lending structure through “chapters” and “sections”. Using these elements, it’s easy to move between content areas. iBooks also allows deep-linking within the platform, so you or your sales team can more directly navigate through the content as you might with a website or mobile app.

mobility

With industry experts forecasting a greater than 1500% growth in tablets by 2015, it’s clear that iPad and other tablet usage will be the new norm, in both the personal and professional realms. By allowing your audience to download the iBook presentation to their personal iPads, your key messages are always reachable and reinforceable in an on-demand setting. This is especially important when a key prospect needs to champion your company to their internal stakeholders (whip out the iPad and show them!), or when your training must now be used in a real-word setting (open the iPad and review the training again!). And for those without iPads, the iBook can be downloaded into a static PDF format – which, if nothing else, puts it at least on par with PowerPoint.

ease of use

Simply hook up an iPad to an overhead projector using a VGA adaptor to present using iBooks. Touch interfaces allow fast and easy navigation across a spectrum of content, enabling the presenter to stretch, zoom and jump back and forth.

Things to consider

As with any new medium, a few limitations with the iBook platform exist. Here’s a few things that should be factored in when building an iBook asset for your team:

iBook presentations are platform-centric. At a minimum, the presenter needs an iPad to show the presentation, whether directly or via overhead projector. If you want the audience to get the full interactive experience beyond the presentation session itself, they will need an iPad to view the iBook. At this point, iBooks cannot be viewed on PCs, Apple laptops or iPhones. The back-up static PDF is the current work-around for this limitation.

Remote audiences may miss the “wow” factor. Currently, WebEx and other web conferencing providers only allow people to view a web conference on their tablets. Presenters are not yet able to drive a presentation via their iPads or other tablets with these web conferencing providers. As such, if the audience for the presentation is largely remote, and most do not have an iPad to follow along with, the back-up PDF must be used, and much of the experience and interactivity can be lost.

Presentation builders need a Mac. iBooks Author, which is used to create iBooks, requires a Mac to download and use. Edits to the iBook must also be created on a Mac with no ability yet to create iBooks via just an iPad.

A learning curve exists. As with any innovation designers, authors and editors will need to learn the platform’s capabilities. iBooks Author is widely recognized as easy to use, but it does take some time to understand the platform, and adding more complex functionality such as HTML widgets can require some light coding.

But importantly, most of these limitations are either easily overcome, or will likely be solved for in the near future as Apple and other providers (such as web conferencing companies) incorporate additional mobile features and functions into their products.


The future of iBooks?

At Sparks Grove, we expect iBooks to grow quickly as a corporate communications platform. An increasing number of organizations are seeking an alternative to the traditional PowerPoint, using other platforms such as Prezi, traditional videos and motion stories (illustrated whiteboard videos). iBooks are still in their infancy as a communications tool, but we expect more players to catch on and quickly. As this occurs, Apple and other developers should increase the number of widgets and support options to make it an easier tool for companies to leverage in B2B and B2E situations.

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Getting started

To get started, consider piloting a communications program using an iBook. The situations that are a good fit are endless, limited only by your corporation’s collective imagination.

Sparks Grove brings a deep experience in both the design and the technology development of iBooks. We have created iBooks for Fortune 100 clients, all interested in trying out a newer, more impactful way to communicate with customers, prospects and employees. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about how we might help you improve the messaging and delivery of your communications programs.

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