Meet Will Hayes, Digital Marketing Instructor at General Assembly San Francisco

Instructor Will Hayes

Evolving With the Future of Brand Communication

Will Hayes is a marketer, entrepreneur, and Digital Marketing instructor at GA’s San Francisco campus. A former media buyer, account manager, and public relations specialist with more than a decade of experience in the field, Hayes’ past clients include Gilead Sciences, Avnet, Lumension Security, and PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power. He currently owns and operates The Grill House restaurant while consulting for clients on the side. Read his article, "A Beginner’s Guide to Paid Social."

How would you define digital marketing in two sentences?

Being able to successfully communicate a brand’s value proposition to targeted potential customers in today’s digital climate. We utilize data analysis to help a company understand who its customers are and how to connect with them.

What do you love about digital marketing?

I love that it is constantly changing and people are finding new and creative ways to communicate their brand messages.

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

A student recently launched a website to help showcase and sell her photography. Utilizing social media and her website, she was able to attract new customers to her art gallery and realize actual sales.

Why should someone learn essential digital marketing skills at GA?

Digital marketing is growing and becoming the future of the way brands communicate. By immersing yourself in this field, you will be at the forefront of the emerging market. Students leave GA with hands-on experience in the most common applications that are used by digital marketers, so they are prepared to continue their growth at any company. They also learn to take a holistic approach, understanding not only how to use a tool, but when and why.

What personal qualities will set someone up for success in digital marketing, both in class and as a designer?

To be successful in any industry, you have to be constantly learning. We have had many students grab a hold of lessons and put them to work in real-life scenarios, producing actual sales for their clients.

What was your path to becoming a teacher and leader in digital marketing?

My mom is a high school teacher, so I have always admired the profession. It’s been a fun challenge learning how to connect with adult students. I enjoy the ability to connect with people wanting to gain real-world knowledge.

How would you describe your teaching philosophy?

Hands on, making sure students have the opportunity to learn while doing. I love listening to student success stories.

How do you help struggling students break through and push high-achieving students to go even further?

I like to keep challenging students who struggle by breaking problems into smaller, more manageable tasks. For more advanced students, my feedback sometimes will get a lot deeper, depending on their current level of understanding.

What is the best way to get practical, real-world experience in digital marketing?

Our course leaves students with a real marketing proposal showcasing real-world skills. Otherwise, internships.