The thermal waters that gave Hot Springs its name maintain an average temperature of 143 degrees Fahrenheit, about 61 Celsius.
So when Stephanie Alderdice wanted to change the name of the Hot Springs marketing agency she bought from founder Kirby Williams in 2016, she struck on SixtyOne Celsius to replace Kirby & Co.
The name offered a fun way to start conversations about Hot Springs and its attractions, Alderdice said, “but we also use that as a hook to illustrate how we take what’s special and find an interesting way to package it up and reach people.”
Business is going well in spite of recent recession talk, she said, and Alderdice’s firm is the new agency of record for a children’s museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring. Word of mouth about SixtyOne Celsius’ work for Hot Springs’ Mid-America Science Museum opened that doorway.
The Discovery Center’s CEO, Tara MacDougall, knew the Mid-America museum’s CEO, Diane LaFollette, and the connection clicked. “That’s been a nice little expansion for us in our offerings,” Alderdice said. “Luckily we’ve been keeping busy, and we’ve added a new full-time copywriter to our team [Brian Lee]. So we’re growing both in terms of staff but also in our footprint.”
Recession predictions have been on everyone’s radar in marketing and advertising, she said, but SixtyOne Celsius has been building its website-building, video and content-creation services.
“A lot of folks are coming to us for our ability to build sites that are easy to find online or for producing affordable digital video content, whether it lives on their computers, on their website or on their social media,” Alderdice said. “One of the offerings that we’ve been leaning into is reaching out to 501(c)(3) organizations that qualify for the Google Ad grant program and assisting them in getting set up.”
Google Ad grants give qualifying nonprofits access to up to $10,000 per month in search ads that appear on Google.com. It is intended to help nonprofits raise awareness about their causes, attract donors and recruit volunteers.
“I say this knocking on wood,” Alderdice said, “but we have not seen any slowdown in traffic coming through our doors.”
Those doors are situated right in historic downtown Hot Springs, at 306 Ouachita Ave.
“It’s hard not to have fun in Hot Springs. More businesses are getting traction in this little tourist town, and there’s always something fun and new for us to do and partner with folks on.”
As a female business owner, Alderdice said, her first years as the boss were nerve-wracking. “I come from a background of communications studies, so the hands-on work was very familiar, but what was behind the scenes was new.” The former champion debater and Western Kentucky University forensics coach said that obviously her goal was to achieve business success. Knocking wood again, she said, she’s meeting that goal.
She’s proud of the team she’s built, including Creative Director Aaron Buckley, Art Director Heather Buckley, photographer Aaron Brewer and veteran media and PR specialist Neal Moore working out of Maumelle.
“I’m also proud that the bulk of our business comes through referrals from people that we have worked with,” Alderdice said. “The biggest compliment you can receive is if you do something well for somebody and talk about it, to put their name behind you and recommend you to other individuals.”
As a manager, she says the challenge is to recognize people’s strengths and areas needing improvement while always keeping an atmosphere where employees are comfortable enough to have some independence. “Then you can check in and address any questions or concerns while being tactful and supportive,” Alderdice said. “People want to be in an atmosphere where their efforts are appreciated, and we’re all able to give feedback in a way that doesn’t feel harsh or negative. You know, we’re all just trying to improve from day to day.”