Meet & Potato are a full service, live events agency, specialising in talking to large groups of people in an engaging and exciting way. Based in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district at our Cotton Exchange offices, we spoke to Managing Director, Jon Kelly.
First things first, why the name ‘Meet & Potato’?
‘Meet’ is at the core of what we do - people meeting one another. And what goes with 'meet'? Potatoes. The name itself isn’t too serious and we don’t take ourselves too seriously either. Nobody has ever forgotten our name. Even if they do call us ‘meet and two’ or ‘two veg’ or whatever it is, it doesn’t matter; the fact is it doesn’t get forgotten. A lot of people said to me I was making a mistake - but I just look at us now, and we’re doing really well. The trick is to be remembered and ‘Meet and Potato’ does that.
Well, we can’t argue with that. So, tell us about Meet & Potato.
We do anything for companies who have a ‘live’ audience to talk to - for example, conferences, seminars, product launches. After receiving a brief from a client, we come up with the whole event creative: the theme, what it looks like, what it sounds like, as well as the logistics of the event such as people getting there, what they’ll be eating and where they’ll be staying. Working with the company’s content owners and senior leadership team, we can then write the whole story of the conference for them.
Our work also goes on after the event: everything that has been seen, listened to and done is about getting content and objectives to the audience. We work out how we can cascade what was learnt to everybody else in the business so that they know where they’re going next year and how they’re doing it.
How long can it take for you to put an event together?
It realistically takes around 4 months leading up to an event to plan, although the logistics surrounding a venue can be sorted long before. We will have an initial kick-off meeting for the client to brief us about speakers and key messages, followed by around four content and planning meetings as we put the whole thing together.
Where does your job take you?
Our events mainly take place around Europe. We pride ourselves on taking the talent from Liverpool and exporting it throughout Europe. While we are an agency, we also have a little black book that we open up all the time. We have some fantastic partners that we work with within the North West, but working throughout Europe we also have contacts on the continent. In that case, all it takes is a flight to get there and everything is already set up. All you need really is wi-fi, but we also have an office to do our day -to-day work.
What is the team set up at Meet & Potato?
There are 10 of us in the team, but we share an office with a company called Concept 22, our graphic design partners. We collaborate with them on everything. They are our agency, but we see them as a department of our business.
Have you found that having a company to collaborate with has made things a lot easier?
Well, I’m sole business owner and he (Jonathan Holden of Concept 22) is a sole business owner, so it’s great to have someone else to talk to and get advice from. You might do the opposite thing anyway, but at least you’ve got an opinion from somebody else. I quite like the fact that we can do so much sharing, too. We are completely separate but also together, it’s brilliant.
How did you get into live events?
I’ve been working in events for years and years. I started out in promotions, handing out free orange juice between university terms. I also went on to do promotional campaigns for big events and worked in an events staffing agency. But then I found love, moved up north and didn’t have a job. It was then that I stumbled across corporate events which I hadn’t done before. I absolutely loved it: it was completely different to what I was used to, but it was new and exciting. I have done some enormous corporate event jobs and every single one is different. You can be so creative with them, it’s all about finding new ways of thinking and different ways of inspiring and motivating.
You’ve been in this industry for quite a while, how have you seen it change?
Clients need a lot more return on their investment now. It’s so easy nowadays to send out a survey monkey to find out what audiences think about an event. You can drill down into every event: how people feel, how it was received, how they’re going to take what they’ve learnt forward. In the olden days companies used to have £1 million parties, but that budget now needs to go alot further. What used to be a £1 million party, is now a £1 million event - but absolutely everything is meticulously scrutinised.
So what do you think makes ‘Meet and Potato’ so unique?
When we begin working with a new client, we promise that we will become a department of their business. Every client we have can pick up the phone for advice, whatever it is, we won’t charge them for it. It’s about us being the go to guys. The point of our company is that everyone is happy, that’s really important to me.
We have a team ethos of helping one another out, even the clients can see the camaraderie. I genuinely believe everybody treats every penny as if it was their own because they know that they will benefit if the business does well. The team is integral to making customers happy and making them come back. I have a door is always open policy, the team can come and talk to me about any problem. If someone said they were leaving and they hadn’t talked to me about it before, I would be absolutely devastated.
What are you most proud of about Meet and Potato?
I’m proud everyday. My best moment is when a client books us for their next event. You’re only ever as good as your last event and if that messes up you can’t go back. We make sure that our attention to detail knows no bounds. The event should be completely stress-free for the client; it should be an enjoyable experience for them as that’s why we’ve been employed. At the end of an event, when the client is truly thanking you and saying see you next year, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Everybody gets a real sense of pride next time we get booked.
Have you got any favourite events you’ve worked on?
We did a Dunelm event in September and that was my favourite event ever. We’ve worked with them for many years on very functional events, but this year the event was put out to tender which we won. It was very competitive and we were up against the best of the best. They wanted to theme the event and we went with film festival. There was a box office area, enormous projector screens, breakout rooms and a huge main screen with red curtains.
The whole event from beginning to end was well thought through, with every piece of music and video timed beautifully. We were all so proud of it. It was great that the client has realised that they can do a whole lot more.
What are your plans for this year?
Recently, there’s been a lot of promotions, people getting new job titles and we’re taking on new staff. We’ve set ourselves targets and we’re taking on those extra people in order to have the capacity to hit those targets. We’ve never marketed ourselves and have got to where we are today by word of mouth, but we’re getting ourselves ready for a record year. It’s been a long time in the planning, but we’re getting there. We’ve got a beautiful marketing campaign ready and we’re gearing up for a brilliant year to smash targets.
So who does the best meat & potato pie?
Oh, that’s tricky... I’m going to say we do, in our beautiful kitchen that’s been designed just for us. I’ll delegate the cooking.
What’s your favourite thing about Liverpool?
The people. Plus, it’s trendy and you’re guaranteed a good night.
Is there anywhere else in the North West that you like to go to?
I love a night out in Manchester, it’s always good fun. There’s loads of clients I’d love to work with in Manchester.
Reckon you might want to work with Meet & Potato, or just want to find out more? Visit their website.