With the goal of helping small businesses get up and running safely when stay-at-home orders are eased or lifted, three local businesspeople have formed United We Heal to provide free and low-cost marketing services.
“The goal was 100 percent, no-strings-attached, ‘How can we help you?’” said Gary Block, owner of The Design Block, Marketing & Advertising, an advertising design firm and promotional products broker based in Chalfont.
United We Heal was the brainchild of Block; Warminster-based Karen Suttmann, senior strategist at JLMedia, an integrated marketing company offering advertising strategies, research, analysis, media planning and buying; and Jim Burgoyne of Finishing by Legacy, a printing and finishing company based in Bensalem.
“We said, ‘What can we do?’ We’re all in marketing,” said Block, whose wife, Michelle, is a hospice nurse and is among those on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19.
The answer was United We Heal, defined on its website – united-weheal.com – as “a cooperative of local businesses in Bucks and Montgomery counties that have stepped forward to offer advice, free and discounted services to their neighboring businesses to help heal our local economy.”
Beginning in late April, the three organizers began sending out e-blasts to a list of 280 businesspeople and have, thus far, helped more than 40 different businesses.
They and other area companies have offered products and services such as business postcards, virtual meeting background artwork, video editing, grand re-opening advertising planning, social media assistance, business status messaging and marketing consultation for free or at cost, donating their time, services, expertise and resources. They also have offered livestreaming assistance for houses of worship and nonprofits.
The United We Heal website includes an email link to the organizers so companies that would like one of the products or services being offered can contact them; it also includes an email link to the organizers for companies that want to offer a product or service for free or at cost.
Among the companies that have offered to help is one that began making face shields just to keep its staff employed. The company is selling the shields at a deep discount, Block said, and is not making a profit. “We’re also going to brand them for free,” he said, with stickers being provided by another one of the partner companies that has joined the group.
To get the word out about United We Heal, Interstate Billboard offered to utilize its billboard on I-95 southbound just prior to Street Road exit, for free, Block said. The billboard features the organization’s logo and its website.
Also to get the word out, United We Heal purchased branded hats and shirts, paid for out of organizers’ pockets, to give to people who were taking part in the project, Block said. United We Heal has begun selling them for $10 each, however, and is using the money to buy and sell other items businesses might need to help them reopen, he said. They are available on the United We Heal website.
Information about United We Heal also is available on its Facebook page.
Block said United We Heal plans to keep the effort going until at least the end of June, possibly longer. There’s even been talk about morphing into something different eventually, but continuing to support local businesses in some way.
“As far as an end date, we really don’t have one,” he said, since the situation with COVID-19 is fluid and the possibility of a second wave of cases exists. “Week by week, we discuss ‘Where do we go next?’”