After writing about how to deliver dynamic sales presentations with Showpad, I heard from Jordan Stolper, CEO of StoryDesk, about an opportunity to evaluate his company’s product. The launch of the iPad Air with its improved display and hardware specs should help open up more discussions about the iPad as a mobile presentation platform, and StoryDesk is definitely worth checking out.
The StoryDesk iPad app is free, and there's also a tiered pricing plan on the StoryDesk web site to accommodate everybody: Lite (free for individuals), Standard ($29.00/user/month for teams up to nine people), Enterprise ($39.00/user/month for teams of 10+ people), and Publisher ($999/month for teams of 100+ people, which include large sales and marketing organizations that want centralized control over presentations). While writing this post, I used the Standard plan. Both the Enterprise and Publisher plans include a standard implementation with two live training sessions, an assigned customer success coach, and setup of your first presentation for a one-time fee of $2500.00 (USD).
Creating a StoryDesk presentation
StoryDesk opens on the iPad with a page that breaks down the basics of how the app works and some quick useful tips. Considering the sales and marketing audience that this app serves, I like the fact that this job aid appears first.
Tap New in the top right corner to begin creating a presentation in StoryDesk. The Choose an Interactive Template screen will appear (Figure A).
Choose an Interactive Template.
The templates are all very visual, and I recommend spending some time during the StoryDesk evaluation period to explore them and mock up some sales and marketing presentations for your organization. For the purpose of my trial, StoryDesk was kind enough to set my account up with media. However, you have the option to upload your own media through the StoryDesk cloud management backend. Some templates of note I found include:
- File Manager for storing PDFs within a StoryDesk presentation
- Video Category for creating a video gallery for a StoryDesk presentation
- Vreeland, a visually appealing template for presenting text and graphics within the right proportions (Figure B)
Using the Vreeland template.
When I was tooling around with the app, adding media and assets to presentation templates (Figure C) was a quick and easy download via my home Wi-Fi network. StoryDesk does include offline support for mobile sales teams who have intermittent online access.
Add assets to a StoryDesk template.
When I was writing this post, I was also testing out the new iOS 7 version of Keynote. The presentation options and user experience in the StoryDesk iPad app nearly keep pace with Keynote. If I was to poke a hole in the StoryDesk app, it has too many creative options (a “first world” iPad app problem) — and this could be a concern for companies with sales and marketing people who might break from the approved corporate message when it comes to creating and editing external customer presentations.
Assembling a presentation might feel a bit complex at first, if you're new to iPad-based presentation creation. However, StoryDesk shouldn't be that difficult to master, even if you just practice during an evaluation period.
Sharing a StoryDesk presentation
Currently, the only option for sharing a StoryDesk presentation is via email (Figure D). When you share a presentation, the recipients receive an email message directing them to download the free StoryDesk iPad app and a login that includes their email address and an auto-generated password.
Share Presentation option.
Speaking as an iPad geek, I’m the first to say that not everybody feels the same as me. StoryDesk could benefit from some other presentation sharing options, such as via PDF, their cloud backend, or other third-party platform.
Another thing missing in StoryDesk is a workflow-based review mechanism for approving new and edited presentations. Letting mobile users work on sales and marketing presentations is one thing, but it's another thing to have features that enable an Admin (or other designee) to approve presentation changes before a prospective or current customer sees the new content. You can rely on user role to govern what users can make what changes to a presentation, but an approval process seems to be a missing feature in the application.
Backend management features
The StoryDesk iPad app has its merits, and there's a very clean and well laid out cloud management interface for the platform. When I look at tools like StoryDesk, I want to find backend tools that don’t require a trained system administrator to operate. The cloud interface for StoryDesk includes:
- Assets, where you can upload the images, videos, audio, and documents that comprise your sales presentations and other collateral
- Simple account and payment management options
- User management, including roles (Viewer, Editor, Admin, Owner)
- Permissions for managing presentation options
- Analytics that give a view into the usage of presentations
These backend management tools should fit into the tools of any sales operations or sales manager who works with cloud-based tools.
While I’m impressed with StoryDesk and its focus on templates, I still wouldn’t recommend this app for just any sales and marketing team. It offers too many options and definitely could be an exercise in setting user permissions, depending on the sales and marketing organization. However, StoryDesk does get a firm recommendation for me as a solution for sales and marketing teams that have a requirement to deliver dynamic (and frequently changing) presentations to prospects and customers.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.