May 25, 2024

Written by Jon Kelly, Founder and CEO, Meet and Potato.

Celebrating 13 years as one of the UK’s leading experiential events agencies, Meet and Potato’s Founder and CEO, Jon Kelly looks back on their reign to date and explains why unlucky for some 13 has actually been quite the opposite for this Liverpool powerhouse.

Why did you create Meet & Potato? 

“I originally set up M&P because at the time I hated how agencies were structured. I wanted to create something different, an environment with a relatively flat hierarchy in which everybody had an equal voice. Thirteen years ago, this was a relatively new approach, these days it’s more common and that’s a good thing. M&P has always been a safe space, encouraging personal growth and a place for people to thrive. The bottom line was never my focus, the team was because I firmly believe if you take care of your people, they will take care of the business.

Why do you feel you have had a great 13 years?
It’s been quite the ride with ups and downs along the way, but I’m pleased to say it’s been mostly ups. The industry has seen many changes over the years, we’ve learned a lot and adapted. We’ve never been what you call a big agency and I think in many ways that’s been our strength. We’re agile and our flat, no-hierarchical structure has meant we can be responsive in ways large agencies can’t. We’ve also had the unwavering support of clients that allows us to take risks.

Is the number 13 unlucky?

I’m not superstitious so the number has no negative connotations for me, quite the opposite. I once put money on number 13 at the roulette wheel in a Maltese casino during a client event wrap party and I won! 13 has been my lucky number ever since.

With 13 in mind, what 13 points would you share with others that have enabled you to drive M&P to success over the years:

  1. Have a clear purpose. What are you trying to achieve, who do you want to attract and what do you want to do. This will guide you in the early days and will act as your guiding light.
  2. Do things differently. It’s often a cliche but don’t be afraid to challenge the norm. That doesn’t have to just be in terms of service offering, it can be how you operate your business, what you offer staff, how your business behaves etc.
  3. Invest in your team. Without them, your business does not operate. Pick the gems and treat them properly because it’s their dedication, creativity and hard work that drives your business forward.
  4. Values. Having clear values that you and your team live by is essential and guides all business decisions. At M&P we all care deeply about what we do, always aiming above client expectations, and we embody the agency values:
    We are creative.
    We are passionate.
    We are knowledgeable.
    We are fun!
  5. Pinpoint Your Proposition. Nail what you do and make it clear to potential clients. For us, we create moments of magic that leave a lasting impression. This sits at the heart of everything we do, we want our live events, creative content, and communications campaigns to be remembered for a long time.
  6. Pick Your Clients Wisely. It’s a two-way street with clients and you want to work with brands that are on the same page as you as this will enable long-lasting and successful relationships. Several of our clients have been with M&P for more than a decade. Not many agencies can share those levels of retention, and it makes me super proud as their unwavering support allows us to be bold when proposing creative solutions. Now when we go after new clients, we need to be sure we can bring our M&P magic to them.
  7. Trust Is Intrinsic. Our policy of total honesty and transparency with our clients is part of the reason they keep us around and I really believe every business would benefit from this approach. This enables you to truly understand the brands you work with and allows the client to trust us to challenge their internal teams to step outside their comfort zone and collaborate to deliver something new.
  8. Great Expectations. Push the boundaries and set those sky-high expectations. It’s always great to hear clients ask us at the end of an event how we can possibly top it next year, but somehow, we always do. We love nothing more than to impress an audience with fresh and exciting ideas, introducing new event trends, and immersive experiences. Sometimes we’re managing clients with Gucci aspirations and H&M budgets so it can be a challenge, but it’s always one we embrace.
  9. Measure and Celebrate Your Success. In fast-paced businesses that are constantly busy, it’s easy to just move on to the next project. Make sure you and your teams are constantly keeping a close eye on your successes and celebrate them regularly. Whether that’s looking at the impact you’ve made on clients to demonstrate how successful a project has been, looking back at the quarter or year that has just been completed or rewarding teams through socials, it’s always important to take a moment.
  10. Encourage Recognition. Seeing the team progress and individuals grow in confidence is rewarding for me. It’s great to see them recognised by industry peers too which is why we put our teams forward for several awards. This year, our Senior Producer, Sophie Greatbanks has been nominated for CN Agency Producer of the Year and Content Coordinator, Niki Toth has just been awarded the title, CN Agency 30 Under 30. Amazing achievements for fantastic team members.
  11. Future Focus. As well as having the foundations in place for the business, make sure you’re looking forward. What’s next, who do you want to work with, what is the next best event you want to work on. Always keep an eye on the year ahead.
  12.  Lead as you’d want to be lead – setting an example and getting your hands dirty from the top down
  13. Share your knowledge – for the sake of the future of the industry, share your best practices and learnings whether this is internally with the team, on socials or through industry events or media, educate the next generation of creative event professionals.

Looking forward, what do the next 13 years look like?
I’m stepping away from the day-to-day running of the agency to concentrate on business development. I’ve always been very hands-on so it’s not an easy move to make but it’s the right thing to do with a view to our future growth and the next 13 years. I’m chasing that dream client, Adobe or Google for example with big budgets to allow our creativity to go wild. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I can’t wait for the next chapter.