Most companies already outsource a portion of their marketing function—advertising. But what about direct-mail management, lead management, or customer analytics? Increasingly, expertise in these and other marketing areas lies outside your own walls. And that is why more and more companies are turning to marketing partners.

Harvard Business School professors Gail J. McGovern and John Quelch documented the trend in an article in the March issue of Harvard Business Review. One reason behind the move? While company marketing departments have plenty of talented right-brain, creative types, they may lack the left-brain analytics needed to better understand their customers in today's information-rich environment.

Besides, argue McGovern and Quelch, outsourcing marketing can lead to better quality and lower costs.

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