What's the best way to talk to your customers?

Ah, the good old days. You called the newspaper, placed an ad, sent them a check for a couple of thousand dollars and waited for the calls/customers to flow in.

But things have certainly changed and now you are just as likely to use an array of personal communication methods and social networking tools to reach out to clients.

There is definitely a trend toward email newsletters and Portfolio, in fact, will be launching one next month. Newsletters should offer more than sales pitches, however. Good content that helps people solve problems, learn something new, be more productive or efficient are key elements that will ultimately lead them to see you as an expert who helps that. That customer relationship is what eventually will turn into sales.

Writing, however, seems to be a daunting process for many people. Knowing your subject completely does not always translate into being able to write something compelling about it - in fact, the opposite is often true. This may turn some companies away from the idea of doing a newsletter.

Don't let it. There are a number of talented freelance services out there - of course, Portfolio is one of them -- that can help you articulate your message and put together an attractive and compelling newsletter.

Maybe a newsletter isn't your thing, though. There are a lot of methods out there. We'd love to know how you do it. What works best and why. Take two seconds and answer this one-question poll. Comments to this post about how you best communicate are welcome.