Do You Have “What If” Syndrome?

You probably already know that I'm in the “more content” camp when it comes to law firm marketing.

Of course, I'm also a fan of the content you create being considered, strategic and high quality. But generally speaking the hardest part is getting the content creation machine up and running – fine tuning can take place over time if you allow it.

So when all the actual data (as opposed to uninformed but opinionated speculation) points to strategic content creation being a critical part of your digital marketing efforts, why is it that so many law firms and lawyers give less thought to content than they do to brushing their hair each day?

It's fear.

You see, lawyers tend to get this horrible condition called “What If Syndrome”. While you won't find it in the DSM-V, it's a debilitating illness which has a variety of symptoms that prevent you from creating content.

Here are a few symptoms.

Fear of Rejection (AKA What if I Get Criticized?)

From adverse comments to someone picking up mistakes in your analysis through to bad reviews on Google, some lawyers live in perpetual fear that someone might say something mean about them publicly.

Here is the wild journey our brains take us on:

if I get a bad review then someone might see it, and that person might have been a potential client and, reading that review, might decide not to instruct me. Word will get around and ultimately my reputation will be ruined, I'll have to leave my firm and won't be able to find another job, and my family will starve and die.

Sounds pretty serious, right? It's also nonsense.

Firstly, sometimes criticism is an opportunity (not always – sometimes it just sucks). If you're getting a lot of it from people whose opinions matter (a short list), then it's time for a healthy dose of honest introspection.

Secondly, if you think that people aren't already out there criticising you, then you're probably not looking hard enough.

Finally, unless you've done something monumentally stupid the chances of adverse commentary on your content ending your career are really low.

Fear of Unimportance (AKA What if I Get Ignored?)

Far more likely than overt criticism is the chance that your initial attempts at regular digital content will just be ignored entirely.

But that's not where this “what if” really gets you – it's in the meaning you ascribe to the silence that surrounds your efforts.

You'll tell yourself that nobody cares what you say, you don't have anything useful to add, the world doesn't need another LinkedIn comment, and why should you bother blogging anyway?

After all, most important and worthwhile things in life get handed to you without much effort, right? So if you're not getting immediate raucous applause for your efforts then you should probably just give up.

Or, perhaps if you think about it you might realise that regularly turning up with valuable content for a well-defined and understood audience is more than a digital one-night-stand. Over time your impact will grow and your community will rally around you… provided you keep turning up.

Fear of Failure (AKA What if I Don't Get Results?)

And finally, the one fear to rule them all – fear of failure.

Ordinarily, this takes the following forms:

  • Firm X started a blog and their managing partner said they didn't get any clients from it;
  • I don't ever read articles so nobody will read mine;
  • Prove to me that this will work before I do it.

I get it.

I'm naturally a cautious kind of fellow, and I understand that you don't want to commit resources to something that's not proven.

But here's the problem – it's proven. You just haven't bothered verifying that it's been proven time and time again, in industries of all shapes and sizes, all around the world, over and over and over and over.

Let's be honest – your fear is founded on basically no information, from people who don't know what they're talking about.

And that's not usually what we base our decisions on, is it?

What's the Cure?

Here is an effective cure:

  1. Get over it;
  2. Take action.

It has a very high success rate.



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