Meet Alicia Morga, Digital Marketing Instructor at General Assembly San Francisco

Alicia Morga

The Art and Science of Brand Building

Alicia Morga is a serial entrepreneur and digital marketing expert who has helped clients like Best Buy and Ford acquire customers. She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Stanford University. Throughout her 15-plus-year career, Alicia has gotten her feet wet with everything from growth marketing, to infrastructure setup, to Snapchat campaigns. She now uses what she’s learned to teach General Assembly’s 10-week Digital Marketing course in San Francisco. Read Alicia’s article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing,” here.

How would you define digital marketing in two sentences?

I teach digital marketing, or rather marketing deployed in today’s most active channels — digital ones. I take a quantitative and qualitative approach.

What do you love about digital marketing?

I love that it’s a mix of art and science.

What’s an example that embodies the best of what digital marketing can and should accomplish in real life?

The skills taught in class help students level up their careers. I had a student who used the nonprofit she was working at for her project, and her work gave her the confidence to apply for a more senior position at another company, where she now excels. The skills also help business owners. I had a student with a startup who, through using the marketing strategy he learned, was able to achieve a faster product-market fit than before the course.

Why should someone learn essential digital marketing skills at GA? What are our competitive advantages in the field?

GA’s competitive advantage is the hands-on learning and the final project. I’ve hired for a number of marketing positions and oftentimes the people doing the hiring have no idea if the person being interviewed can actually do the job. Showing up to a digital marketing interview with a portfolio of projects, complete with learnings and achievements, is a huge competitive advantage for candidates.

What does a superstar digital marketing student look like?

A superstar student in digital marketing is not satisfied with just following directions but likes to dig deeper, ask more questions, and engage with the data. Superstar students are also always learning. Digital marketing changes so quickly that anybody in marketing has to be continually curious and proactive.

What personal qualities will set someone up for success in digital marketing?

The great thing about digital marketing is that it encompasses a number of jobs that can fit different personality types. For example, if you’re super analytical, a job working with Google Analytics might be a fit. If you’re really good with words, you might be great in a job writing marketing copy or messaging. Or, if you’re an extrovert and can strike up conversation with anyone, social media marketing might be your home.

What was your path to becoming a teacher and leader in digital marketing? What, if any, surprises or challenges have you overcome to get here?

I discovered that, as a founder, I was teaching people all day — about the company, about our services, and even teaching employees about the industry. As for surprises or challenges, there have been many, but I always consider them opportunities to learn!

Why did the opportunity to teach at GA appeal to you?

I jumped on the opportunity to teach at GA because of the focus on active learning. I think people learn best when they get to be hands-on and apply their learning to what they care about.

How would you describe your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is to keep the whole student in mind. A lot of conditions have to be right in order for a student to be vulnerable in the way that learning requires. I try to set up the classroom so students feel safe to make mistakes and grow.

What has been your favorite memory as a GA instructor?

That’s a tough one, I have so many! I really like getting to know the students and helping them think through marketing problems for their clients. I love when I see the light bulbs go off in their eyes and they make new connections. I also enjoy getting to explore new industries through them. Students come with all sorts of projects — from their own companies, to bakeries, and even a cryotherapy spa.

How do you help struggling students break through to meet or go beyond their minimum GA course requirements?

I first try to understand their objectives. Like a good marketing campaign, it’s important to understand what they want to accomplish and then work back from there.

How do you push high-achieving students to go beyond the minimum GA course requirements?

I push them by giving them more — asking more questions, challenging their thinking, and giving them more ideas they can apply to the problem. The introductory course just skims the surface, but my experience is much deeper and I’m happy to share it.

Please describe exceptional strengths in GA’s curriculum, teaching style, and community.

For me, the focus on teaching is what sets General Assembly apart. GA understands that learning is not just about reading instructions on how to set up a campaign in Facebook. It’s also about how to place Facebook in a larger context and do that with the help of an engaged and invested guide — the instructor.

What are some free resources and tools a student can use to stay up to speed in the field?

This is what’s difficult about digital marketing — there are a ton of free resources and tools focused on digital marketing. My job as an instructor and subject matter expert is to simplify all that data and make it more easily accessible and useful to students. That being said, reputable resources include Google, HubSpot, Moz, and MailChimp.

Between taking the course and finding a job, what is the best way to get practical, real-world experience in digital marketing?

The best way is to offer to create a marketing plan or do marketing for a company or organization for free. Alternatively, you can try to market your own blog, product, or project. Even if you take a single picture and concentrate on how to get as many people to see it and share it as possible, you’ll learn a lot about what marketing takes.