Ask Me Anything: Austin AMA President Michelle Vrudhula Knows How to Rock

Interview by Melanie Brenneman

You may have noticed a couple more guitars on our website and emails lately. This is just one of many proof points of President Michelle Vrudhula’s vision for the organization this year – Austin AMA Rocks.

As she explains: The backbone of Austin AMA links to two thoughts. We are all very strong leaders with a vision for excellence, thought leadership and some risk taking. So we are going to rock! And we are going to bring in the greatness of this city with its entrepreneurial spirit, music, speakers and fun. 

This has already been evident in the unique programming already offered by the chapter including an Austin-based craft brewery panel (there’s a spirits one coming up, so be prepared!) and the very well attended healthcare and word of mouth special interest group events. And with a family that knows how to play just about every musical instrument from guitar to drums, she comes by the rockin’ theme honestly.

In this first of a series of blog posts titled “Ask Me Anything”, Vrudhula, who has previously volunteered as vice president of membership and treasurer for AMA, dishes on little-known benefits of Austin AMA membership and trends she sees during her “day job” as vice president of marketing for Customer Research International.

Q: What’s your focus as president?

A: I would like to increase the diversity of our membership.  We are striving to provide content and geographic availability to larger enterprise companies.  We are also working on improving membership benefits and communicating those benefits better.  We hope you like the new perks.

Q: What’s an AMA member benefit that many may not know about?  

A: Locally, many may not know that we get member discounts to sponsor services such as 50 percent off an Austin Business Journal subscription and 10 percent off work from Xtreme Xhibits.  Nationally, I don’t think members realize that you get access to free webinars, white papers and best practices as well as access to AMA Connect, a member portal that shares topics ranging from branding to B2B to marketing research.

Q: What do you hope members take away from their interaction with AMA?

A: We hope that they always meet new people that will benefit them personally and professionally in some way, have a good time, and learn something about marketing they didn’t know or they had forgotten.

Q: What sort of takeaways have you realized from volunteering for AMA?

A:  Definitely the professional and personal relationships that I have developed as well as the automatic validity that comes when you say you are an AMA board member.  I have increased my marketing skills by learning from events, jumping in and helping with social media when needed, updating the web site in a crunch, organizing event logistics and learning the databases Austin AMA uses for registration and membership.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever got? 

A: One of the AMA speakers said not to ever undervalue yourself and to find the customers willing to pay for your service.  When things get tight, you tend to second guess pricing. He said to stay true and those that value your services will be willing to pay for it. You just have to find them. Since that meeting I’ve held true to that and have found great customers based on that advice.

Q: Tell us about some trends you’re seeing in primary marketing research.

There has been discussion for about two to three years about how to still do a statistically viable telephone study with so many people converting to cell phones. We have established quotas for cell phone representation, but that has been expensive because the sample isn’t very geographically accurate.  Within the next three months, there will be new cell phone samples available that can actually target users based on the billing zip code versus the cell phone number.  What this means is that we will be able to establish cell phone quotas much more cost effectively.

Connect with Michelle through email, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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