What Is Verisimilitude?

Years ago I was fortunate to be able to work with one of the true gurus in the field of direct marketing copywriting—Herschell Gordon Lewis. A marketing genius, a horror-film writer! (he’s actually known for creating the “splatter film” sub-genre of horror, according to Wikipedia)—and a truly nice, nice man. I remember that he often used a term that was new to me, but that I’ve always remembered.

Verisimilitude. It means, basically, “the appearance of reality.”

The application of the term for copywriters, of course, relates to the ability to write compelling copy that somehow moves the target audiences to do, think, or believe something—all with the “appearance of reality” or verisimilitude.

But verisimilitude isn’t suggesting that copywriters lie about their product benefits. That’s a quick way to lose credibility and business. It’s more about making consumers, or prospects, believe that what you’re saying is true. Of course, once they make the decision to purchase, what you said must really be true or they won’t come back for more. Worse they’re likely to spread negative word-of-mouth (WOM) about you and your product.

It’s also important to note that your product claims need to pass the smell test. Someplace where I see this not happening a lot is on Facebook. Many of the ads I see on Facebook are so outrageous in their claims that I wonder whether anyone would actually click on them to learn more or, worse, place an order.

We have all come to accept a certain amount of puffery when it comes to ad copy. Still, credibility is key. Whenever you’re making a claim—in a tagline, in copy, whatever!—it needs to have at a minimum the appearance of truth, or verisimilitude. That appearance of truth, backed up by customer experience, that proves the point is what leads to brand preference, positive word-of-mouth, sales—and repeat sales.


About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Recommended Reading:

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR

Managing Remote Staff

Direct Mail in the Digital Age

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Best Practices in Influencer Marketing

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Complete the math problem before submitting a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.