Time to Act Human: Human activation in practice

More than ever companies are being confronted with chaos. The complex, uncertain times have collectively pressured our trust and the Covid-19 pandemic has thus far only reinforced this. For companies, large or small, this chaos entails several inevitable challenges.  

How can these companies tackle the complexity they are confronted with? The answer can be found in the ‘Act Human’ approach. 


Time to Act Human: Successful companies invest in long term relationships

People have all kinds of unconscious desires and needs that influence their behaviour and actionswhich we refer to as Human Drivers’Whether we are talking about people, products, brands, services or organisations, an individual will always search for relationships with their environment. Human behaviour is in other words not random, but purposeful. Marketing must gain insights in these Human Drivers and view brands as people who can build and maintain long termmeaningful relationships with their customers and stakeholders. By doing so marketing can activate human connections and build up lengthy relationships. It is therefore not about pushing products, but about responding to and collaborating with the available interpersonal relations. Marketing is to act human.  

This view requires us to redefine the focus of marketing and to upgrade the marketeer: we say goodbye to the traditional marketeer and welcome the Human Activator. It is the Human Activator’s  task to start from the Human Drivers and reinstall people and society as the focus of business operations.  Thereafter, they can adjust business models, digital tools and technological solutions accordingly.  

As a Human Activator you aim to activate relationships between people – customers, suppliers, colleagues or partners – and their environment which can contain people, products, brands, services, organisations and so on. That way they enrich the individual’s life with choices, not in an enforced way, but in a relevant, value added manner.  

This human oriented marketing strategy, where companies invest in long term relationships, is the key to successful business. ThAct Human approach is endorsed by several experts originating from the broad marketing field and who already act as Human Activators today. It was written down in the equally named book by Callebaut Collective founders Karel Demeester, prof. dr. Sarah Steenhaut and Jan Callebaut.  


How to implement a human focused marketing strategy in your organisation: Human Activation in practice

Now how can different companies implement a human oriented marketing strategy in their daily activities and how does this look like in specific contexts? Together with several fellow Human Activators, the Act Human authors Karel, Sarah and Jan elaborated on the meaning of an ‘Act Human’ approach and how this comes alive in different contexts, sectors and organisations.  


 Act Human in a social profit environment

>> How can an ‘Act Human’ approach be implemented in a social profit context? 

There is a widespread perception that marketing does not belong in a social profit organisationAnnemie Lemahieu, Director of communications, campaigns and funding at Kom op tegen Kanker, has been confronted with this view multiple times: “Marketing for charities or organisations with a large social impact is unethical and not done.” This misconception is overturned by Marc Michils, Managing Director at Kom op tegen Kanker, and Jan Callebaut who state that precisely human activation’ is the fundament of a successful social organisation 

  • Kom op tegen Kanker stands for connecting people day in day out. The company aims at creating moments where a connection is made with the person beneath the cancer patient. They build relationships and promote transparency with these patients and in that way have created a family 
  • The essence of the 1000 km for Kom op tegen Kanker event is not the event in particular, but the fact that we can get in touch with the patient who can now prove to his family “I did it”. The 1000 km of Kom op tegen Kanker is one big platform of solidarity.  
  • Collaboration is the key to success, but on the condition that there is an honourable collaboration. A partnership can only work when people support the same Act Human strategy as partners and embody this view.  
  • The bottom line here is no other than human emotionsIf you can contribute to this as an organisation, then you can do your part.  

 Watch the entire testimony on the ‘Act Human’ approach within the social profit environment here:  

Act Human and the service logic thinking

>> What is the added value of the service logic thinking within a business logic and how can we apply this to the events sector? 

A paradigm that perfectly serves the Act Human strategy within companies, is the service logic modelMarketing does not signify market focused thinking, but stands for involvement-thinking centered around the target audience. Event expert Peter Decuypere and Sarah Steenhaut clarify how the service logic thinking can stimulate an Act Human approach and how we can apply this within the events sector 

  • The value of an event presents itself as connectivityit is not tangible and not ‘inserted in a product’, but it is found in the experience in sharing things with others. As an organizer of events you don’t sell a ticket to a festival, but you sell connection 
  • The service logic is not about selling products, but it is about offering a mental and emotional service that continuously enriches the customer’s lifeNot the product, but the human being beneath the customer is the focus.  
  • The challenge a lot of companies are faced with today is converting knowledge and heritage into an offer where products and services are combined in such a way that the consumer can enjoy a relevant experience. This typically requires the reinvention of business models.  
  • It is outmost importance to dare to work across your company’s boundaries. 
  • The Act Human approach can help the events sector reinvent itself after it was so gravely impacted by Covid-19. Let’s not simply offer a digital version of the offline event, but develop a concept from scratch where we can enjoy and share an authentic experience. In this concept you will find success.  

Watch the entire video on how the service logic can trigger an ‘Act Human’ approach and the application of this within the events sector here:  

Act Human and customer centricity

Long term relationships cannot be built up in one moment but need to be constructed throughout a journey. By applying the Act Human view on this customer journey, we obtain the Human Activation journey. Alain Thys, Experience Architect, and Karel Demeester elaborate on how Act Human is translated into customer centricity.  

  • The biggest challenge concerning customer centricity is that we as a company need to unlearn certain habits. It is not about merely solving customer’s problems or managing the features and benefitsbut about helping build the person the customer aspires to be and the world he/she wants to live in, in the future 
  • Even though marketeers are aware of the fact that the customer journey needs to be flawless and even invisible or non-existent, the Act Human strategy goes even further. As Human Activator you not only make the journey impeccable, but you also make it as fascinating as possible by adjusting to the phase the customer is situated in and in particular to the mindset accompanying this phase. In other words, you constantly search for how you can activate the relationship with your customer throughout all the touchpoints.  
  • Data and digital are essential in this process, however cannot become a goal in itself. By starting from the relationship with the customer and his/her journey, you can use digital channels and tools as enablers to activate relationships. 

From Share of Heart until Share of Life, watch the entire video on how to insert the Act Human strategy within customer centricity here: