Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors


SlideShare Remains The No. 1 Content Marketing App For RIAs; Brainshark Overpriced

SlideShare is still the best slideshow app for small businesses. Brainshark has more features but it’s too expensive for most RIAs.

If you’re an advisor and you want to generate sales leads online, the content marketing apps you use for posting should meet the following requirements:

  • Shareable. You want to post your content so it will be easy for people who see your ideas to share them with their social networks on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Embeddable. You (and your connections) must be able to embed your content on their websites.
  • Displayed On All Devices. You want to post so can it to be viewed on all types of devices — smartphones, desktops, and tablets — and on all operating systems, iOS, Android, and Windows.
  • Trackable. You must be able to see how many hits you get.
  • Lead-Generating. You want to be able to generate sales leads from your content.

Before I tell you what to do with your marketing, please allow me to introduce myself. Unlike many “social media experts” giving advice to advisors on the Internet, I actually do this stuff. Advisor Products over the past three years posted 90 videos to its YouTube Channel and 25 “slidecasts” to its SlideShare channel. (Slidecasting is when you upload a PowerPoint slideshow and then an MP3 narration. SlideShare and Brainshark allow you to synchronize a narration with a slideshow.)

Amazingly, slidecasts have generated nine times as many views for Advisor Products as YouTube videos.

In fairness to YouTube, I put a lot more thought into the slidecasts than most of those videos. But I do believe slidecasting is a better online communication medium than video for advisors, or any business for that matter.

That’s because the focus of creating a slidecast is not lights, camera, and your actions. Slidecasting entails a deliberate act of communication of solely focused on explaining ideas — substance not form. To be sure, you could make a video that’s as compelling as a slidecast. In fact, video is a more personal medium because it shows you speaking into a camera and the camera doesn’t lie about you. However, making video that’s as effective as a slidecast requires expending the same effort at researching and explaining ideas, but it then adds the complexity of making a video, which is more complicated than making a narration.

Slidecasts are also better than video on the Web because the slides can contain links. As Marshal McLuhan would say, it is a “hot” medium — arguably hotter on the Internet than video.

SlideShare is not the only app for sharing PowerPoint presentations, of course. It’s biggest competitor in slidecasting is Brainshark.

Brainshark has more features. Brainshark’s main advantage over SlideShare is that you can view Brainshark presentations on the iPad. You can’t view slidecasts on an iPad or other mobile devices, which really is bad. But when you look at the cost of Brainshark, you’ll probably find the price difference unacceptable — especially since its main advantage will be short-lived.

Aptly named, Brainshark shrewdly hides its pricing plans to sucker you into trying the app. You cannot see Brainshark’s pricing until after you sign up for a trial version. For a social media marketing tool to use such old school, hide-the-facts marketing indicates something is wrong at Brainshark. I posted a screenshot of Brainshark’s pricing below.

Brainshark Pro Prices

Brainshark Pro lures you with by advertising a price plan starting at $9.99 monthly. But sign up for the demo, you learn that that’s $9.99 monthly per slideshow. In other words, if I posted my 25 slidecasts on SlideShare at Brainshark, it would cost $7.99 each per month — $199.75 monthly. With a price plan that’s paid once a year, Brainshark would cost me $1400 a year. At SlideShare, a Gold annual plan for $432.58 a year allows upload up to 20 presentations per month. Bottom line: SlideShare costs me $967.32 a year less than Brainshark!

In addition, HTML5 enables slidecasts to be played on iPads, so it’s only a matter of months before Slideshare crushes Brainshark  by converting all of its slidecasts to HTML5 to make them viewable on any mobile device. Slideshare was purchased recently by LinkedIn.

By the way, I tried contacting Brainshark’s CEO and founder, Joe Gustafson, and Andy Zimmerman, Brainshark’s CMO, two weeks before writing this post by connecting with  them on LinkedIn. Gustafson looked at my profile but never accepted the connection. Neither did Zimmerman. Again, not impressive for a social marketing company.

What’s the bottom line?  Here are some practical tips, including a slidecast:

  • The Advisor Products BackOffice content management system allows you to embed any slide show you create on these platforms on your blog. In fact, you don’t need to write anything except a title for your slidecast and you can make one of these presentations a blog entry. Just call the service desk if you need help (888-274-5755).
  • For search engine optimization and niche marketing, it’s wise to target slidecasts to your ideal clients: doctors in Duluth, IBM employees Westchester, N.Y. with deferred compensation plans, retired professors at Arizona State University.
  • Keep slidecasts short, no more than three minutes. Write three to six sentences, five to 20 words in length, about each slide. I made a slidecast showing how you can use PowerPoint’s “Presenter View” to write your script for each slide.

9 Responses to “SlideShare Remains The No. 1 Content Marketing App For RIAs; Brainshark Overpriced”

  1. May 29th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Gerry Praysman says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for your consideration with this post. My name is Gerry Praysman and I’m the Buzz Marketer at Brainshark. Your comparison of slidecasting to video is spot-on. Though we champion both at Brainshark, it’s important for people to see the difference between the two and the benefits that each yield. Great work in making the distinction!

    I also wanted to address some of the claims you make in this post. You review myBrainshark, the freemium version of our enterprise-level Brainshark offering. I’ll be the first to admit that the myBrainshark pricing isn’t the simplest plan to understand. Having said that, I wanted to help clear some things up.

    You actually get an unlimited amount of standard presentations (or slidecasts) for free. You can add Pro features for $9.99 per month per presentation – such as private viewing and better analytics, but you still get a lot of features for free (reporting, slide types, unlimited viewing, etc.) and you can swap as many presentations as you want in and out of the paid Pro slot. So in reality, you could potentially have all 25 of your slidecasts for free, depending on the features you wanted to add to them.

    I would humbly and respectfully argue that the free features you get with myBrainshark actually exceed those of SlideShare – but again, this depends on exactly what you want to do.

    Once more, not the easiest system, but I’d be more than happy to answer any specific questions, or put you in touch with anyone in the myBrainshark crew or our awesome Customer Success team to cover any and all of your bases. The point is that our intention is never to “hide” or mislead anyone about our pricing or product. All of our information is available on our website, with or without a trial. We’re always open to suggestions on ways we can make it even more conspicuous.

    Also, feel free to tweet at the @brainshark and @myBrainshark handles with your questions and comments. We do pride ourselves on being a social marketing company.

    Gerry Praysman

  2. May 30th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Greg Staub says:

    We have been using SlideRocket. Any advantage to switching to SlideShare?

  3. May 30th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    agluck says:

    Gerry: I actually tried loading a slidecast on Branshark and could not upload my MP3. I also tried contacting your CEO and CMO to interview them before writing the story. So I stand my my story as accurate. However, If you wnat to call me and go over the issues I had, I will be happy to do so.

  4. May 30th, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    agluck says:

    Greg: While I have heard of SlideRocket, I have not tried it out. But I will give it a spin as soon as I have time and will report my results. Thanks for your question.

  5. May 30th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Gerry Praysman says:


    I definitely want to make sure we help resolve your uploading issues. If you wouldn’t mind shooting me an email gpraysman[at] with the best way to get in touch with you; I’ll be happy to assist or connect you with someone who can.

    Thanks very much,


  6. May 30th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Andy Zimmerman says:

    Hi Andrew, I received a LinkedIn invite from you but we’ve not met yet. I look forward to meeting you, though. Sent you a LI reply with my cell phone and email address. Twitter is @ahzimmerman. Best, Andy Zimmerman – CMO, Brainshark

  7. February 20th, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Mike Nelson says:

    I have used both Brainshark and Sliderocket. Brainshark has more features but is more expensive. I also don’t like it when they hide their pricing. I thought Gerry Praysman response was very well done.

  8. August 9th, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Udit says:

    Hi Mike Nelson,

    Are you able to provide a detailed comparison between Sliderocket and Brainshark, I am looking to choose between the two.

  9. August 15th, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    agluck says:

    Sorry, Mike, but I have not looked at SlideRocket. PowerPoint is so powerful. Brainshark is great but expensive. Camtasia Studio is a great way to turn slideshows into videos.

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