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Now that the holidays are over, retailers are putting their game face on as they look to get ahead in 2019. While experts say retail sales will continue to expand in 2019, they also hint that growth will slow and competition will be fiercer than ever, as Amazon continues to loom large; consumers enjoy the power to shift loyalties with a quick click; and new players in the market constantly emerge.

The right partnership effort — that is, optimizing your relationships with all of your revenue-generating partners — can help you score multiple touchdowns this year. You’ll make sure you are generating as much awareness of your retail brand as possible, with the best influencers on board. You’ll be certain you are properly evaluating your consumer journey and evaluating payment for your best partners. And you’ll take advantage of opportunities to track and measure your partner program and gain useful insights.

So how do you tackle your partnership efforts for a total win? It’s worth taking a page from the playbooks of the two teams — the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams — going  head-to-head at the Super Bowl. The stakes are incredibly high, so they certainly won’t leave anything on the table that Sunday afternoon in February. Neither can retail brands looking to score big in 2019.

Want a formula for partner success in retail? Here are five things the Super Bowl can teach you:

1. The right recruits make a top team.

The teams that make it into the Super Bowl began early on by recruiting the right players that fit the culture and meet the organization’s needs, creating a competitive powerhouse. The best partnership programs must also develop a great team — facilitating a diverse but appropriate range of partners and influencers to help build their business, by making outreach and relationship-building easy.

2. Making the right play is key.

The right attribution plays are a must for a successful partnership program, in a landscape where it can be hard to tell what partner drove what part of the purchase journey. For example, partner data needs to flow across tools and channels to deliver a holistic view of how profits and sales shape up — including consumer intent, purchase data, lifetime value and incremental partner value.

3. Reward high-impact performance.

In the Super Bowl, the members of the winning team get expensive rings as rewards, as well as bonuses. For successful partnerships, it’s essential to weed about performance fraud and focus on rewarding those partners who deliver the biggest impact on your desired outcomes, whether it is more online purchases, coupon downloads or loyalty program sign-ups.

4. Think strategically.

Strategy is a huge part of the Super Bowl. Both teams do a tremendous amount of planning and preparation to determine everything from formation of plays to who to put on the field. A successful partnership program is also about thinking strategically: For example, what products or SKUs are you trying to incentivize? Do you want to give partners a higher commission for sales, of, say, higher-margin products, or higher-priced items, or new products?

5. Be ready for anything.

You never know what’s going to happen at the Super Bowl: Each team has to be agile, nimble, and ready for anything. The same is true for your retail brand’s partnership program. You need a platform that will support you at every stage of the game, from when you are growing and need to focus on flexibility and recruitment to when you are mature and stable, focusing on service and ease of use.

On Super Bowl Sunday, you’ll see motivated players looking to win the biggest game of their careers. You want your partners and your organization to be motivated as well. The right performance marketing platform can be a huge part of that power-charge: As kickoff gets closer, consider how you can improve your partnerships to take your collaboration and growth to the next level.

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