Chicago company makes a point about Web ROI

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Like a beer filled to the rim, the executives behind Four Points Digital are overflowing with entrepreneurial enthusiasm.

Then again, it's probably what you'd expect from an interactive marketing company named after a bar.

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Founded three months ago by three former TN Technologies executives, Four Points' credo is simple and, well, direct.


"We want to be very focused on proven business solutions," said Michael DeNunzio, the company's 29-year-old managing director. "The type of client we want is doing direct response and just has to be online. It's absolutely critical to their business."

It was a conviction strong enough to cause Mr. DeNunzio and his partners, Strategic Business Director Pete Monkewicz, 34, and Pierre St.-Jacques, 27, director of architecture and design, to leave cushy jobs at one of the country's largest interactive agencies.

Although Mr. DeNunzio founded TNT's Chicago office four years ago, while he was also working on direct marketing projects, it wasn't until last May that TNT allowed him to focus full-time on interactive agency work, he said.


By the end of last year, he said he knew he had to find a new focus. And so Four Points was born, taking its name from the bar in the Connecticut Sheraton hotel where Messrs. DeNunzio and Monkewicz stayed when they got the idea for the company.

Four Points now occupies the second floor of a former art gallery in Chicago's River North district. The office walls bear several beautifully rendered paintings, courtesy of artist Mr. St.-Jacques, and a few stick figure-ish drawings on yellow legal paper, the work of non-artist Mr. Monkewicz.

An entire room of the four-room office is devoted to chess, where Messrs. St.-Jacques and Monkewicz carry on matches that last for days (not because they're not working; on the contrary, they usually only have time to make one move per day).

Four Points bills itself as a "digital marketing and consulting company specializing in direct response and electronic commerce."

Put more simply, the company acts as a consultant to clients who, in most cases, have already built a Web site and are now looking for that fabled return on investment.


Four Points' clients include Zurich Kemper Investments, Racing Digest, Interactive Coupon Network and the Arts & Business Council, a pro-bono client.

Before taking on new business, Four Points puts a prospective client through a rigorous 50-question needs assessment. The company also devised a Performance Payout Audit to measure ROI on Internet initiatives.

"What [clients are] saying is, `We spent all this money, please help us not waste any more,' " Mr. DeNunzio said.

For Zurich, Four Points is designing a Web site enabling the client to sell mutual funds directly to consumers. The company also will create banner ads to promote the site, which launches later this month.

ICN tapped Four Points to help boost subscriptions to its CoolSavings couponing program. The company will create banner ads, buy media and test various promotional strategies. ICN formerly worked with US Interactive, New York.

"I was used to subscriber solicitation and the model where you would be constantly testing new creative," said ICN President Hillel Levin, a former magazine publisher. "They brought the kind of direct response sensibility to the project that made a lot of sense."


Four Points is helping Racing Digest sell subscriptions online and is working with the arts council's 20 to 30 member organizations to develop new audiences via the Web.

The privately funded company has raised enough money to last two to three years, Mr. DeNunzio said. He hopes to hire four more staffers in coming weeks.

Four Points' focus on helping clients do actual business online isn't so unusual nowadays; it's a natural next step beyond the slap-em-up Web page developers that created vanity sites for marketers over the past few years.

But the three executives believe their willingness to work for a fee plus an incentive based on client money saved will set them apart.

"Dollar for dollar, every single dollar you spend, we will show you what you're getting in return," Mr. DeNunzio said.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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