Mark Fitzpatrick was only in elementary school when he picked up his first book on real estate investment. His early interest in real estate set a path to a lucrative career in the industry. After graduating from college, he founded Fitzpatrick + Prince, a successful boutique real estate agency which he ran from 2009 to 2014.
In 2014, Fitzpatrick sold the agency, and launched RUHM Inc., in order to focus his efforts on the marketing side of luxury real estate.
Today, Mark and his team at RUHM specialize in designing creative marketing packages for luxury properties. Their work goes beyond the ordinary, employing a professional crew of cinematographers, graphic designers and creative directors to develop high quality productions that grab people’s attention and leave a lasting impression.
We sat down with Fitzpatrick to find out more about RUHM, his current clients and his plans for the future.
BuzzBuzzHome: Were you always interested in real estate?
Mark Fitzpatrick: It was in the fifth or sixth grade when I started picking up books about investing in real estate, but coming from a middle class family where my father was a blue collar worker, we certainly didn’t have the means to be investing in properties. However, it was something that caught my eye and I started reading and studying it, so it set that path into motion from a young age.
In addition, growing up, there was another family that I was very close with who had a very successful business. They took me on vacations with them so I got a taste of the more affluent life and that’s when I saw real estate — based on the book that I was reading — to potentially be a path for a life where I can make more income and use it to develop other companies, businesses and startups.
BBH: Prior to working at RUHM, you ran Fitzpatrick + Prince, a successful real estate agency in California which was acquired by the Boutique Real Estate Group. What motivated you to sell the company and focus on real estate marketing?
MF: Fitzpatrick + Prince was a different type of agency. We had a marketing division with full-time marketing people including a graphic designer, cinematographer, creative director and a photographer. We also had agents who worked full-time, on salary and bonuses rather than independent contractors who make a commission.
As we started to grow and get more luxury properties as clients, I got to a point where I thought we turned into more of a marketing company that does real estate, rather than a real estate company that does marketing.
We looked at what it would be like if we became a marketing company for high-end real estate and a couple interesting things happened. First of all, the barrier of geography goes away because when you’re a brokerage, people look at you as being geographically bound to a certain area. But when we became a marketing company, we could advertise anywhere in the world. Secondly, it takes down the boundary of industry so we’re no longer bound to just doing real estate sales of residential homes. We can market anything in luxury, from homes and new developments, to collectible cars, yachts or jets.
BBH: What’s the story behind the name?
MF: After working at Fitzpatrick + Prince and having a very long URL, it was very difficult to explain and spell to people so we really just wanted a short domain name.
RUHM was actually owned by a gentleman in Germany whose last name was RUHM, so we negotiated and purchased the name from him. In German RUHM means “Glory” or “Fame”. For us it makes sense because it’s what we try to do with our projects. Whatever we’re working on we try to make it have glory and fame and ensure that people are able to take notice of it.
BBH: What did you want to achieve with the new company?
MF: We are very interested in increasing the perceived value of brands. If there is a project that we get that doesn’t have a brand, we create that brand and then increase its value. When you do that, you reach more buyers and help sell those projects faster and for higher prices because the brand value is higher.
There’s a lot of research that goes into this. When we get a project we’re certainly digging into who our buyers are and what the different groups of buyers look like who would be interested in this project.
BBH: What would you say makes RUHM unique from other real estate marketers?
MF: I think what makes us different is that we have a full-time crew of people who are very skilled in their talent. And when you have them all under one roof working together everyday, understanding the industry that they’re working in, you end up with a much better, more compelling product.
BBH: How big of a role does technology play in your work and how has it changed the way real estate professionals sell homes?
MF: We take advantage of the latest technology. We use the same type of technology and tools that the crews in Hollywood are using because we want to put out a product that is cinematic and high quality so that it reaches people the right way.
Our goal is to grab people’s heart strings and get them emotionally tied to a property or product by putting that story in a presentation that leaves a lasting impression.
BBH: RUHM specializes in implementing unique marketing strategies including creating high-quality, immersive films to market properties. Can you walk us through the process in planning and implementing these productions?
MF: When we first get a project everybody researches it on their own, then we come together and talk about what information we’ve gathered. We start to define who our buyer is by researching demographics, the type of money coming into that area, from where, and who the likely buyers are.
We also talk to the brokers involved, the sellers, and the principal to see what their impression is on who the likely buyer is going to be. Then we sit down and hold several brainstorming meetings to start crafting a story and establish a brand and design that is ultimately going to be consistent throughout whatever we produce whether it’s a video, website, photos, print or books.
BBH: It sounds like you do quite a lot of market research for your clients?
MF: Yes, we do quite a bit of market research. About 80 percent of the folks that work here have degrees in marketing, so they’re very talented on digging up as much info as they can.
There are also instances where we are presented with quite a bit of research and information from the principal, especially if it’s a development. In these cases, we’ll help in researching that further and present some other potential ideas of buyers or just reiterate how important it is to reach the types of people that they thought were going to be their buyers.
BBH: Can you tell us about your current projects?
MF: Cavu in Las Vegas is a 13,255 square home owned by the architects who designed the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the Borgata in Atlantic City and the MGM in Macau. After 10 years of designing and constructing their stunning desert-contemporary home and putting it on the market for sale, they hired us to create a marketing campaign worthy of their masterpiece.
It’s a great example of having consistent marketing throughout. The videos, photos, website and print all have the same branding and styling. But what stands out in that project to me is the success that we’ve had with our PR experts. A third party company that measures PR values determined based on the PR we’ve gotten, that the value of it in dollars was over $2.7 million.
I think that goes back to the quality of the content and when you have great content and you can package it together and present it to bloggers, editors, writers, and general media in a way that they are also attracted to it, then they are more likely to cover it.
BBH: Is there any project that stands out for you?
MF: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them, but the Park Lane at Ala Moana Centre in Honolulu comes to mind. We sent the team out, including myself, to do some research and scouting and we were able to participate in a lot of the activities that the buyers would participate in. We got to go on some great tours including hiking excursions, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins. We got to experience the services available first hand, so it was not only educational, but a blast.
BBH: What’s coming up for RUHM in the next year? Do you have any new and exciting projects or clients in the pipeline?
MF: We have a few projects that are lined up and are going to come to fruition. We’ve also been in talks with potential clients in Mexico, Montenegro and Saudi Arabia. I think people are starting to see what we’re doing and the effect of what we’re doing so we’ve been catching a lot of attention recently.