Business presentations are no longer a mad scramble around the desk
trying to find that set of 35mm slides. They’ve grown up. They are now
about meeting business objectives via multimedia.
The CD-ROM has become an essential tool for presenting to customers.
The handling of digital information is more convenient than having to
bother with VHS videos, stacks of papers and photography, which are not
nearly as user-friendly, are much bulkier and deteriorate far more
’With CDs, marketers can move graphics around inside a sleek
presentation and in a more compact format,’ says Toshiba’s marketing
manager Andy Bass.
The next generation of super CD, the Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), will
be able to store seven times the capacity of current CD-ROMs, and will
make it easier to digitise huge volumes of information and
’It’s a brilliant presentation device with really practical business
benefits and most PCs, certainly in the marketing department, can now
use CDs,’ adds Phil Redding, deputy managing director of The
Just over a year ago, the emergence of cheap, portable projectors, and
the gradual drop in the price of multimedia laptops fundamentally
altered the market.
’The floodgates started to open. You were no longer recommending a
multimedia solution that only a tiny number of people could view or
use,’ says Redding.
’Now from your database of, say, 100 screens, you could pick 20, create
five new ones, and suddenly there was your new presentation. You didn’t
have to leave your desk, or become a highly proficient technician,’ he
Metro Networks’ national radio brand, TrafficLink, supplies traffic and
travel information to a number of leading commercial radio stations in
This could be up to 7000 traffic reports a week. The radio industry has
grown from 56 commercial stations in 1990 to today’s 175, and an
estimated 300 by the millennium. Metro Networks wanted a sales tool that
would sell the TrafficLink brand more dynamically to advertising
directors and marketing managers, and provide a one-stop shop to a
weekly reach of 21.8 million listeners.
Previously, the company’s sales staff played traffic report examples to
prospects off a tape recorder, and showed them paper copies of the
audience figures they could expect to reach, a cumbersome process that
didn’t reflect the true nature of the brand nor all its benefits.
’Patience levels got lower and lower. We wanted a presentation that
could use pictures and sound to show how the ad would ’look’ in the
actual segment itself, and run equally well in five minutes or an hour,’
says James Farmer, Metro Networks’ UK sales director.
’Business presentations have to be as sophisticated as this now. You’ve
got to have something that is sexy and dynamic.’
The Presentation Company put together a team of eight people for the
project. Using Authorware and 3-D Studio software, it was designed
around the concept of a car stereo.
Taking around nine months to complete, it is divided into three main
segments called ’stations’ to fit in with the brand: (LW) Evolution
documents Metro Networks’ growth and development; (FM) TrafficLink
contains everything you need to know about the brand; and (MW) Media
Talk contains customer testimonials.
Logos are used to ’hot link’ to audio examples of ads: ’After two months
of heavy presentations, it has paid for itself,’ says Farmer. ’My
average order value is around pounds 70,000-100,000. I only need one
client to say yes, and it’s paid for itself three times over.’
In some cases, CDs can also save money: ’Using multimedia in the
relaunch of a brand, you can distribute 1000 pages of information, a
database of statistics, and 50 minutes of video to marketing reps in 50
countries,’ says Redding. ’If you consider the cost of doing that by any
other means than CD, then you can see how much time and cost you’d
TNT Worldwide wanted its sales force to present a consistent and unified
brand across 220 countries more effectively.
The medium to convey this, therefore, needed to be flexible enough so
that regionally and locally the content was relevant, could be received
in an appropriate format (eg 35mm slides, OHTs, colour Canon documents
or black and whites). It also had to accommodate the vast differences in
the technological capabilities of its potential users.
Using a CD-ROM, each sales manager has full control over the text, font
and size as well as the choice of 75 visuals from an in-built
They can import their own images to tailor it further. They always have
access to an interactive toolbar allowing them free navigation around
The user can then select his own screens or text from anywhere within
the CD-ROM, put them into the desired order and save that as their own
’The crucial factor was being able to create a presentation tool that
conveyed the global message in a consistent and integrated way, yet was
flexible enough to take into account the regional variations,’ says Bob
Johnson, TNT Worldwide’s vice-president of sales and marketing.
These days, dynamic presentations are also being made remotely by
linking up with servers via the Internet to access online, real-time
presentations which the client can access again at a later date, via a
secure Internet address.
’These presentations are produced in HTML and Java and are particularly
useful for Internet and electronic commerce projects, where we use the
same medium for the presentation as we will use for delivery,’ says
Peter Matthews, Nucleus managing director.
The Crosswater multimedia house has joined together with presentation
design company Slide Machine (both part of the Clearwater Group) to
offer a soon-to-be-available bureau service producing tailor-made
presentations that can be updated remotely over the Internet.
Typical applications include presentation of the latest sales
statistics, or pricing. Customised sales presentations, automatically
updated to include customer details, requirements or queries, could be
provided direct from the company computers and telesales systems.
The final presentation medium could take any form which accepts computer
information, from laptops in one-to-one presentations in sales, to
dedicated presentation systems using computer graphics and video replays
in a conference.
’Deciding on the right format for your business presentation will depend
on who will author the presentation and how you intend to use it,’ says
Peter Matthews, managing director of Nucleus, the design and new media
’If there are to be many authors and the content will change regularly,
then you need to consider an easy-to-author software package, which will
improve the quality of the presentation and create corporate
If, on the other hand, you need interactivity, and you can control the
production centrally, you could use an authoring environment, like
Director, which provides much higher quality graphics with sound,
animation and video.
’We recently created templates for a global investment bank where
hundreds of people throughout the organisation are continually producing
corporate presentations for use on-screen, 35mm slide, overhead acetates
and in print,’ says Matthews.
’The challenge on a project like this is not only to design a good set
of corporate templates, but to ensure that they work reliably across
various versions of software and various desktop computer and printer
One should never underestimate the technical challenges of such an
exercise, even if you are working in a straightforward DTP software
’We tend to use Director for our own interactive presentations and for
clients who want sophisticated results, but Director is not an everyday
production environment like PowerPoint,’ says Matthews.
’We design and programme in Director all the time and can make
presentations interactively using a laptop, or with a laptop linked up
to a beamer for larger audiences, and also produce CDs to leave
Redding notes that: ’People are building up their Internet and Intranet
capabilities at quite a rapid rate. This is exercising one’s digital
assets, and allowing people to communicate much more freely and
It is generally agreed in the industry that, more for technical reasons
than anything else, you might have an Internet team working separately
from any multimedia initiative, but that eventually they will
’Currently, you use slightly different programs, creative skills and
functionality for the Internet than you use for CD multimedia,’ adds
’We have two separate teams at the moment, but we have built them
deliberately on the understanding that they will become one.’
The bottom line, though, is that almost every business has a need for
some kind of multimedia presentation. But they don’t yet know it,
because they don’t understand what multimedia could do for them, and no
one is telling them.
’These developments are being driven by marketing, followed by corporate
communications. A year-and-a-half ago, it would have been IT,’ continues
’You’re moving away from the technological challenge to the
Marketing is used to measuring advertising and PR activity, which might
not always appear tangible but which still has to be measured to produce
business return,’ he says. ’Multimedia is exactly the same. It’s second
nature for them to look at it, and assess it.’
HELP WITH THE DIGITAL MIX
New media agency, Revolution has released a CD-ROM guide to help you
find your way through the digital media maze. It looks at developing and
using CD-ROMs as effective marketing tools and illustrates the level of
information that can be stored and how a well-constructed CD-ROM can
help users access the right information as well as capturing data about
Its second section, covering the Internet, focuses on commercial
benefits. It looks at how the Internet operates, and what it’s best used
for; how Web sites work and the ways in which they can be developed and
designed to make your customers aware of your products and services.