Backstory on the v4 principle and 90% of word of mouth

by Stan Phelps

in v4 principle

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I first came across the concept of the v4 principle almost 10 years ago.  This is a hilarious post from 2000 on from a guy named Rob from Boston,  a.k.a Streetracer.  I can remember almost peeing in my pants when I originally read this.  Enjoy:

Think about your entire history of relationships… Every person you dated long term, short term, prison term, and every random hook-up in between. The vast majority of those relationships were with someone you met through a common friend. Very rarely do you find a couple who met randomly at a bar. Most couples met through a friend, a friend of a friend, or a relative. The reason most relationships begin this way is what I call the “v4 Principle.”  “v4″ is short for “Vouch For” and it is this reason that the majority of people in America get laid.

EXAMPLE: Say you’re out on a Friday night and you see a cute brunette at the bar. You approach her, make small talk, and attempt to pick her up. To you she’s a hottie with dating potential. To her you’re just another one of the drunken masses out there trying to score some ass. Now take the same situation as before, but when you see her at the bar she is talking to your best friend’s girlfriend. Now when you approach you’re SOMEBODY as opposed to the NOBODY you were before. The girl at the bar has a reference point for you and your best friend’s girlfriend is there to vouch for you: “Oh, that’s Fred. He’s Mike’s best friend. They work together at the law firm. He’s a real sweetie, and he’s sooo cute when he’s drunk.”

See how it works? You’re the same drunken ass either way, but now you’re perceived as charming. So, if friends are largely responsible for our hook-ups, how does one improve his odds? Simple, just use this handy dandy friendship reference guide that follows to determine who you should hang out with more and which friends to discard:

1.) Married Friends – Don’t have any. They only hang out with their miserably married couples and they constantly attempt to pull the rest of us into their pit of despair. There is no ass for you here.

2.) Friends Who Work In The Service Industry – Hold on to these. People who work in restaurants, bars, retail, and the like tend to have a plethora of same aged single people to kick it with. They are laid back and don’t work until noon, so they’re always up for a night out. Also, all hostesses are easy.

3.) Friends Who Do A Lot of Drugs – Keepers. Whether you do drugs or not is irrelevant. People who do a lot of drugs tend to hang out with other people who do a lot of drugs… and, chicks who do a lot of drugs tend to be easy.

4.) Religious Friends – No! No! No! All of their friends are usually bible-thumpers as well, and meeting a group of hot Baptists is like going to your favorite bar without any money. You can look all you want, but you can’t have anything.

5.) Strippers – If you have any friends who are strippers you can contact me. Please let me know where you’ll be this weekend…

On a more serious note, v4 or ‘vouch for’ is also how the majority of purchase decisions are made.  A reference point or recommendation by a friend is the strongest factor impacting purchase intent.  Add on the fact that 90% of word of mouth happens ‘face to face’.  According to research by Keller Fay:

Personal experience with a product or service is the #1 catalyst for recommendation, with 86% saying they recommend a brand or service based on first-hand experience. 60% of word of mouth conversations include advice to buy, try or consider a brand. Fewer than one in ten conversations advise avoiding a brand.

It only makes sense to maximize the experience with your customer.  Giving that little extra provides AMMO for your customers to relay their experiences.  That’s why you need a purple goldfish.

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