The Four Cs marketing mix

Consideration of the four (or seven) Ps isn’t the only approach to assessing an organisation’s marketing mix. In fact, the traditional Ps approach is highly concentrated on the operations of an organisation rather than the requirements of its customers.

An alternative approach is to consider the Four Cs:

  • Customer needs and wants
  • Cost to the customer
  • Convenience
  • Communication

(Source: Tyler, 2007).

Models to aid understanding of organisational context and shape strategy

For my first proper week of B121, I’ve been looking at models to aid understanding of organisational context, and help reveal factors that could shape strategy.

The models are:


This model helps you think about the environment in which your organisation operates, and enables you to construct a forecast based on the following key factors:

  • Social
  • Technological
  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Political


Similar to STEEP, but focusing more on the following factors for PEST:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Technological

and the same again, plus the following for PESTLE:

  • Legal
  • Environment

Porter’s Five Forces

Possibly one of my favourite models for understanding the forces shaping an industry. Porter’s Five Forces looks at:

  • The threat of new entrants
  • The bargaining power of suppliers
  • The bargaining power of buyers
  • The threat of substitutes or alternatives
  • The rivalry among existing competitors

Porter’s Value Chain

Another interesting model that I have never really looked at before, which is concerned with the activities or functions within an organisation which contribute to the creation of the product or service delivered to customers. The five primary activities are:

  • Inbound logistics
  • Operations
  • Outbound logistics
  • Marketing and sales
  • Aftersales service

However, Porter also adds support activites:

  • Firm infrastrusture (e.g. finance, planning)
  • Human resource management
  • Technology development
  • Procurement

There is a good diagram in the Manager’s Good Study Guide on p. 205.

SWOT analysis

I’ve used this one many times before. It’s perhaps one of the most common models to aid understanding of organisational context, and looks at:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

The key here is that the SWOT analysis helps to identify an organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, giving a picture of the organisation as it is now. The opportunities and threats give two possible future pictures – one negative, the other positive.

Using the components identified by Porter’s Value Chain model aids the analysis of strengths and weaknesses within SWOT, while STEEP and Porter’s Five Forces model aid analysis of opportunities and threats.

(Source: Tyler, 2007).

Professional Certificate in Management vs. other OU courses

I feel the need to say a few words about my transition from the Professional Certificate in Management (which comprised of B628, B629 and B690, my first ever OU modules) to other courses.

The most striking difference is the degree of structure and organisation. B628 and B629 were highly structured courses, with clear weekly instructions on exactly what you need read, what activities you need to complete. As such, they were very easy courses to follow, and I personally never felt lost or confused.

My current courses, B121 and B325 are totally different. Much less structured, less organised. There is still a weekly roadmap that covers course material and activities, but the course readers provided (such as Organisational Collaboration and Managing to Collaborate from B325), are very much stand-alone texts that are provided for background material and additional reading where required.

It strikes me that what to read and the depth of study beyond the basic course material is very much left to the student’s discretion.

I need to get to grips with this new way of studying!

Next courses

Well, I must be a glutton for punishment, because I’ve already registered for my next two courses – which I’m planning to study simultaneously from May to October.

The two courses are: ‘B121 Managing in the workplace’ and ‘B325 Managing across organisational and cultural boundaries’.

B325 seems particularly relevant to me because I regularly encounter management problems that involve virtual teams spanning organisation boundaries, cultural boundaries, and sometimes both at the same time!

To quote the OU website:

This course is about collaboration – working, managing and organising across organisational and cultural boundaries. Whether within or across organisations, via partnerships, joint ventures and alliances, collaboration can be both stimulating and rewarding. It entails the combination of resources and expertise  which enables partners to achieve something jointly that they cannot achieve working alone. However, collaboration is also fraught with difficulties and dilemmas. In this course you’ll explore the many issues and challenges associated with working collaboratively across different contexts. You will also learn about concepts and theories that can help you to better manage collaborative situations in the future.

(B325 course description on the OU website)

B121 sounds like an interesting course because of the way it recaps many of the subjects I’ve already covered in the Professional Certificate in Management (B628, B629 and B690) – while also allowing me to draw on my own workplace experiences and compare them to the theories encountered in my studies.

Again, quoting the OU website:

This introductory Level 1 course introduces management ideas and uses activities to build on your existing knowledge and skills. You’ll also use your own workplace experiences to develop an academic understanding of management and valuable study skills, which you’ll demonstrate by writing about management and reflecting on your own skills as a learner. … Using a textbook, you’ll carry out various activities asking you to compare the theories that you are reading about with what you see around you in your workplace.

(B121 course description on the OU website)

I know I haven’t yet finished B629/B690, but roll on May!