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By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, Nov. 11, 2008-It started innocently enough. Trulia was entering the New York market and was looking for a real estate partner to complement its listings inventory on its new website and Houlihan Lawrence was looking to maximize its online listings distribution. “It was such a great opportunity for us; there was no downside,” says Chris Meyers, COO, Houlihan Lawrence.

Now, some two-and-a-half years later, the fledgling relationship has morphed into a full-blown partnership.

“All vendors speak of creating a partnership, but we found that Trulia has backed up that promise with real substance,” says Meyers. “They asked us, ‘what’s important for our business?’-and they listened.”

The results speak for themselves-traffic from the Trulia audience has progressively risen over the past few years, and by mid-2007, Trulia had become the third-highest source of third-party users on Houlihan Lawrence’s site-only behind Google and Yahoo!. Today, Trulia ranks second, only trailing Google.

“Trulia’s really established credibility and is now resonating with consumers,” says Meyers. “The inventory is easy to find and is not bombarded with clutter and ads-I think that’s important to consumers.”

It was at that same point last year that Houlihan Lawrence made the decision to upgrade to Trulia’s exclusive banner advertising program, which includes ads for specific featured listings. Houlihan Lawrence purchased Featured Listings (which puts their listings rotating in top three positions), branded their listings with their corporate logo and purchased large banner ads. These ads not only help to build their brand, but use advanced “Motif” technology to do a live scroll through available homes in a searched area.

“We took advantage of that opportunity, particularly for our agents-it resonates with them,” he explains. “Our agents were able to incorporate that new marketing element into their listing presentations and it has shown great success.” In addition, Meyers’ company offers Trulia Pro to its agents, giving them the opportunity to place individual agent ads in up to 20 locations of their choice.

And for Meyers, that differentiation with consumers is quite powerful. “Trulia’s continued to innovate every step of the way,” he says. “They’ve found ways to make banners valuable, to use them as a way to display inventory that is dynamically matched to search criteria.

“Using the banners to merchandise our inventory in target markets truly differentiates us from the competition,” he adds. “It’s a very targeted way to market sellers’ homes.”

What’s more, in the coming months, Trulia will be offering even more to Houlihan Lawrence and its agents-an online marketing education series.

“Trulia attended one of our company events last year and gave a presentation that our agents were talking about for some time,” explains Meyers. “They offered very practical guidance-especially for some of the agents who weren’t that tech-savvy. They offered sensible ways for an agent to take advantage of technology to grow their business. That experience was helpful and laid the groundwork for the educational program we’re getting ready to now roll out.”

In the end, for Meyers, he says the small risk he took close to three years ago was definitely worth the reward.

“We’ve kind of created a road block,” says Meyers. “If you look at our area-Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties [in New York]-we’re everywhere. You can’t search for homes in our area without being exposed to our brand-Trulia is part of that success. We pay attention to trends and go where the consumer is-and that’s Trulia.”

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