It's no secret that the days of just "the three screens" are long gone. When that world died, the old wisdom of targeted, by-the-numbers ad buys died, too.

So, instead, these days we hear a lot of talk about brand-centric conversations and always-on marketing. And the people using those buzzwords often have no idea what they mean. I know that because I regularly see marketers ignore the implications of those concept and go right on making branding mistakes that undercut their marketing goals.

Here are four of the biggest mistakes I see, and some thoughts on how to fix them.

1. Forgetting the 'Always' Part of 'Always-On Marketing'

At Adobe, we talk a lot about the idea of always-on marketing—the idea that it's now impossible to control where and how customers interact with your brand.

We used to be able to control at least some of those interactions from the brand end: You'd present your message on traditional channels, such as TV, or conduct face-to-face outreach programs, and you could generally lead the conversation from the top down. The Web, in general—social media, in particular—has shifted that paradigm: Now, maybe 10% of the conversation is led by marketers while the rest takes shape from the bottom up, from the customer base itself.

The upshot is that your brand conversation needs to be open to adapting to these customer-led interactions. Staying "on-message" is counterproductive if that message isn't resonating with customers—or, far worse, if it's leading to mockery of your brand.

That's not to say you can't help guide the conversation. You can, to a small extent: When those unexpected online conversations happen, you need to show up, add value, be transparent, and say something clever or useful. Otherwise, you're shooting your own brand in the foot.

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image of Mark Grilli

Mark Grilli is vice-president of product marketing for Document Cloud at Adobe, where he is responsible for worldwide marketing strategy and implementation of Adobe Document Cloud and Acrobat DC. Prior to joining Adobe, he was a co-founder of an e-learning startup.

LinkedIn: Mark Grilli