Max Coates

Unveiling the Secrets of Winning Sponsorships: Insights from Max Coates

Hailing from North Yorkshire's Scorton, Max Coates isn't just your average driver. He's a professional at the wheel, carving his path through the competitive world of motorsports. For years, he's been a familiar face on BTCC undercards, battling it out in prestigious series like the Clio Cup and Mini Challenge. Now, he's pushing the limits in the Porsche Sprint Challenge with the backing of Graves Motorsport.

But Max's journey isn't just about speed. He's also a master of securing sponsorships, building strong relationships with brands like Primex Plastics, NGK Spark Plugs, Gala Performance, and JiC Transport. He knows first hand the dedication it takes to turn racing dreams into reality, and we recently sat down with him to hear his inspiring story.

Max Coates: Driver Profile

With over 20 years of motorsport experience, Max is a seasoned champion and crowd favourite in the BTCC paddock.

More than just a champion, Max is a personality that lights up the BTCC paddock. Beloved by fans and respected by competitors, he embodies the spirit of motorsport: fierce yet friendly, experienced yet always hungry for more.

Races Started: 210

Pole Positions: 19

Wins: 27

Podiums: 73

Fastest Laps: 18

Q. What are the most important qualities that a sponsor looks for in a racing driver?

A. I think there are three qualities… honesty and openness together. Explaining what it’s going on without any clouded story is important.

Business acumen, you’ve got to understand your business and theirs and crucially how, if at all, they interlink.

Third, I’m not sure what the quality is called, but they have to like you. This is perhaps the most important of all, if a sponsor doesn’t like you, they won’t do it. It’s say that’s been the first part of any of my relationships, we’ve got on well from the off.

Q. What are some of the challenges of securing sponsorships as a racing driver?

A. For people who are not involved in the sport to understand it, the level it’s at and what they can achieve by using motorsport sponsorship. If someone has never been, never watched on the tele, it’s hard for them to understand what they could achieve through a partnership.  We’re competing against competing against any other area in which a marketing person can spend money so it’s got to outperform commercially and for that to happen someone needs to understand what we do.

The environmental impact is also a challenge. More and more companies now come back with ‘motorsport isn’t green’. This is part of the reason I am partnered with Carbon Positive Motorsport to offset my carbon emissions.

Q. How do you go about finding potential sponsors?

A. Mainly through meeting people at and around race tracks. People who are there have an understanding for what your trying to do, an interest in of some kind. The majority of my work is at race tracks so I’m in the right environment from this. I also get introduced to companies that others feel would be a good fit to working with me.

Q. What kind of benefits do sponsors typically offer racing drivers?

A. Primarily money, but it could be products that they make, services they offer.

One of the other big benefits is introductions to their customers and suppliers who might all want to be involved in the same promotional programme.

Q. What are some of the most creative sponsorship deals that you have seen?

A. Brian Sims and Guy Edwards are two of my motorsport sponsorship guru inspirations. Both has outstanding commercial minds. Two that spring to mind are Brian’s sodastream deal and the Guy Edwards example of the K-Mart deal with Indy Car / NASCAR. The second of which involved all their suppliers effectively paying for the sponsorship.

Q. What are some of the mistakes that racing drivers make when it comes to securing sponsorships?

Offering the same as everyone else does in the industry rather than understanding what the sponsor wants and delivering on that. In effect sponsorship is just like any other sales process, like buying a Gala Tent. If a Gala Tent customer wanted a 3m x 3m pop up tent for a small gathering there’s very little point in trying to sell a custom design 8m x 4m motorsport standard tent with custom printed sides.

Sponsorship is similar, there’s no point trying to sell a custom designed race car when all they want is to showcase their product in a motorsport setting and entertain the directors for a race weekend.

Q. How important is social media for securing sponsorships in the racing world?

A. It’s important to companies that value its importance. For example, my biggest sponsor, Primex Plastics have a profile on LinkedIn only. Its good that I have a presence on Facebook, instagram etc but it’s not pivotal to our partnership.

Equally between myself and Gala Performance we’ve worked on social media projects over the years which has been a great success and benefited Gala Performance awareness, websites traffic and sales. 

Image: Gala Performance Social Media Campaign to drive traffic featuring Max Wearing as many 'Coats' as possible. Traffic for this period increased by 37% resulting in additional revenue.

Q. What challenges have you faced when securing sponsorship deals?

A. I’d say the biggest hurdle is getting infront of the right person who makes a decision. Usually these people are very difficult to get hold of, never mind a meeting with, without some form of personal contact. That’s why networking and being at a track is so important for me.

Q. How did you secure your first Sponsorship deal?

A. My first deal that I organised away from Dad was Welcome to Yorkshire, a friend in the village suggested I become a Yorkshire Patron, an ambassador essentially. From there I had an introduction to the right people and put forward a proposal to promote Yorkshire as we travelled the country racing which they bought into.

This Q & A article was taken from Issue One of our New Quarterly Magazine. If your interested in all things Motorsport, click the link below and grab yourself a copy.

Issue Two Coming Soon!

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