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Launch Team Blog

Michele Nichols

Recent Posts

The CEO as Sales Manager: Asking the Right Questions

In growing small and mid-sized companies, the CEO is often the company’s best salesperson. As the company grows, so does the sales team, but the CEO seldom is able to totally abdicate a role in sales.

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Topics: Sales

What’s Next in Medical Devices, and What Does It Mean for Optics?

The medical device market continues its slow and steady growth—projected at 2.8% annually for the next five years—making it an attractive and sustainable space for optics companies positioned to fill emerging needs. But where exactly does your company fit?

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5 Questions to Consider When Planning Your Marketing Budget

There's a lot more to budget planning than deciding how much to spend where. For some, it's setting a right-sized investment in marketing to match their growth goals. For others, it's optimizing their marketing budgets by shifting resources to what's working best todaynamely, online channels. This shift involves a broadened focus on bringing in leads through websites, targeted social media, regular blogging, opt-in email subscribers, etc.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Marketing Mix, Marketing Strategy

Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur: Scalable Sales & Marketing Models

At a recent panel discussion, I was asked to share experiences in sales and marketing with an audience of Entrepreneurs’ Organization accelerator founders, along with fellow panelists Don Davis of Empire Automation Systems and Ron Valentine of ITX.

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Topics: Business Insights, Marketing Strategy, Sales

Diversify Your Revenue Base by Increasing Sales in New Optics Markets

As the bull market continues and proposed defense budgets are growing, most optics and photonics companies are reporting strong sales and a general sense of optimism. With that comes a new challenge, though: when your revenue base becomes too concentrated on a single industry or customer, your risk of market pull-back or decreased demand increases.

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How to Sell to Medical Device Companies

Opportunities and Challenges

For optics and other component manufacturers, medical devices represent a strong opportunity—especially for those who need to diversify their revenue base from DoD.

The US medical device market growth rate has slowed in recent years; it’s projected at 6.1% for 2017. There are several factors slowing growth and innovation in US healthcare, including:

  • The repeal and reform of the Affordable Care Act, and post-election uncertainty
  • Iterative product innovation to speed product launch, reduce FDA hurdles, and reduce risk
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Topics: Medical Device, Sales

Emerging Market Strategy: Market Positioning for UAV

Just back from SPIE’s Defense & Commercial Sensing (DCS) conference in Anaheim, and preparing for XPONENTIAL in Dallas next month, we’re noticing that the emerging drone market presents real promise as well as challenges.

The optics, photonics, and imaging exhibitors at SPIE DCS share a common challenge with XPONENTIAL’s component exhibitors—a great deal of unknowns in:

  • UAV adoption curve
  • UAV applications to invest in
  • Requirements
  • Regulatory environment
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Topics: Marketing Strategy, Positioning

Applying the 80/20 Strategy in Advanced Manufacturing


The 80/20 or Pareto principle is a long-standing business strategy that a lot of companies are applying right now to increase profit margin. Classic examples of the 80/20 rule include the burgeoning growth of American manufacturers such as Illinois Tool Works, which grew from $300M to $18B by applying the 80/20 business model. Books like The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch made the best seller list, focusing the common Pareto Principle on highest margin work to create competitive advantage.

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Topics: Business Insights, Client Relations

Gaining Traction in Emerging Markets: 10 Keys to Early Sales

Marketing Strategies for UAV, LIDAR, and Emerging Automation Markets

AUVSI Xponential 2017, the conference for unmanned technologies, drones, and robotics will be held May 8-11 in Dallas, TX. This year’s conference will feature more than 650 exhibitors and more than 200 courses covering the future of unmanned systems in energy, defense, automotive, wireless communications, and other industries.

Exhibitors and attendees, from optoelectronic component manufacturers to lasers and system integrators, have many common questions:

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Topics: Business Insights, Marketing Strategy

How to Use Internal Communication to Avoid Common Product Launch Traps

New product launch is risky, even for established companies with a defined product development and product launch process. In our work with high tech B2B companies, we’ve noticed a few places where companies often stumble.

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Topics: Internal Communication, Product Launch