New York-based AI tech startup and SA-based Digital Kungfu’s marketing ROI success

Digital Kungfu is extending its footprint and working with tech start-ups in the US, bringing its unique take on the role of storytelling in business to New York.

11 February 2019 – Many financial advisors and financial services firms know that they need to innovate, but often don’t know where to begin. This was ForwardLane’s key challenge. The New York-based tech startup’s AI offering is complex, but its value offering is simple.

“We augment the capabilities of financial service professionals, empowering them determine who to speak with, what to say and to understand why they need to have those specific conversations,” says Nathan Stevenson, CEO at ForwardLane, Inc. “The result is a superior customer experience and a cost-effective way to retain and grow business.”

This messaging has evolved as ForwardLane has found a way to clarify its brand story. “We needed to give our potential users a clear, digestible understanding of our offering, and we needed to do it in such a way that cut through the clutter,” says Stevenson.

Enter Digital Kungfu, a lead generation and storytelling production house servicing tech companies in the United States and South Africa. “Matt Brown and his team have helped us develop a brand story that strikes the right balance of being credible while also painting an exciting view of the future. Potential customers hear from numerous startups offering some sort of promising future; we’ve found that setting honest expectations and a clear path forward helps build trust amongst our client base.

“While some customers are very aware of the potential of AI, some have only vague ideas of both what the term means, and the current state of its functionality. We are offering a product that provides both immediate near-term value, but also has the potential to evolve exponentially over time. This is a lot to communicate and you only have a short window of time in which to do it. That was the challenge.”

Speed to market is critical

Working with ForwardLane has also benefited Digital Kungfu. “We arrived in New York to create brand collateral based on the brand story we had co-created with ForwardLane,” says Matt Brown, CEO of Digital Kungfu.

“Understanding story and how to distill and communicate the story behind a brand and its value offering is what we’ve always done, but we realized that the next step is the ability to tell a story fast and effectively to help grow the brand and the bottom line of the business”.

“Today we use an Agile Marketing operating system at Digital Kungfu,” explains Brown. “This helps us get our technology clients to market in days. Not months. While we were shooting a Netflix-style series with ForwardLane in New York, it re-enforced our understanding of just how important speed to market is for technology-driven businesses with innovative products, especially in developed economies like the United States.

“Inspired by Agile Software Development, Agile Marketing is an approach that values responding to change and customer feedback quickly and efficiently. The big idea is that instead of rigidly following a marketing plan, we get into the market quickly and then implement rapid iterations based on testing different material, collecting data and responding to it.”

Maximising marketing performance and ROI

This approach, coupled with the new messaging around ForwardLane’s value proposition, allowed Digital Kungfu to test precise narratives and messaging themes in the market to understand what worked best in terms of specific products and services. “Once we had proof of what was working, we amplified the story through branded content, maximising ROI and performance for ForwardLane,” says Brown.

The partnership between the two firms has worked well. ForwardLane has benefited from Digital Kungfu’s storytelling and lead generation expertise, and Brown’s team has perfected its Agile Marketing approach by collaborating with a technology business whose requirements and working style perfectly match the need for Agile.

“Matt and his team have assimilated to our startup culture. They’ve found a good balance between knowing when to push for more guidance from us and when to just ‘run with it’, which is what we need. It allows us to focus on what we do best, while Digital Kungfu handles what they do best,” concludes Stevenson.


ForwardLane is a B2B fintech company that provides an AI-powered API platform to empower financial professionals in wealth management, asset distribution and commercial banking.  ForwardLane’s product surfaces news and research that is personalized and highly relevant for clients. By analyzing and understanding a client’s interests, transactions and holdings, the platform can provide contextual content recommendations, along with reasoning, aggregated from a variety of sources. By leveraging state-of-the-art AI capabilities, ForwardLane can analyze all clients at the same time, and learn from user behavior to continuously and automatically respond to real-world conditions.

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Digital Kungfu is a storytelling production company that helps technology businesses market their software products/services, generate new business and build their brands. To address the pace of the technology sector, Digital Kungfu combines branded content and agile marketing to take new or existing products and services to market quickly and in the process maximise market share and generate leads.

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