| APRIL 6, 2023
Christine Kasman began working at St. Louis-based Sansone Group nearly three years ago. Since joining the company, where she now holds the position of director of marketing and communications, Kasman has revamped Sansone Group’s marketing efforts, building a publicity department that is more flexible, nimble and more equipped to meet the needs of clients, no matter their goals.
Before taking her current position, Kasman honed her skills by working as a sales specialist and director of advertising with companies in the greater St. Louis region. She even owned her own business for five years, Reel Eire Irish Dance, a company that provided wigs and accessories for dancers competing in Irish Dance tournaments or those performing for audiences.
Today, Kasman continues to boost the marketing efforts that Sansone Group offers. And in particularly good news? She says that the gender gap in commercial real estate is slowly, but surely, eroding.
As director of marketing and communications with Sansone Group, what changes have you brought to the company’s marketing department?
Kasman: When I started in this position, it was just me and two graphic designers. We were reactionary. The department was basically doing brochures and some event planning. I felt fortunate that they gave me the opportunity to make a change. They saw the potential in me and gave me the autonomy to reorganize the department. We’ve hired a marketing coordinator and another graphic designer. We have interns coming in and out. We’ve created this little agency within the firm.
How important has the growth of this department been?
Kasman: Watching the evolution of the industry and the commercial real estate landscape in the region, I knew that we had to make changes to our marketing efforts. A brochure doesn’t cut it anymore like it did 10 years ago. We have to be online. We have to be cutting edge. There is a lot of tech that we all have to learn. We have to grab these digital and online skills and use them the right way for the right clients.
COVID brought a huge change to this business. People couldn’t go into the office or their retail spaces to look at facilities during the pandemic. We had to come up with 3D renderings and figure out how to get them to people. We had to change the way we marketed properties and served our clients.
Are you still relying on some of the marketing changes that you instituted during COVID?
Kasman: We have grown to rely on many of the strategies that we first put into place during COVID. This is one of the bigger changes that came out of COVID for us. The way we do business has changed. We have all gotten more flexible. We have expanded what we are able to do online and digitally.
I feel fortunate to work with a company that embraces innovation. I have never seen a marketing department like this. I’ve never seen one that engages in all aspects of commercial real estate like this one does. We work with the development team, the brokers, everyone. We work with every single group.
We have an amazing story at Sansone Group. We have a founder who came from nothing and built this amazing company with such strong core values. It isn’t necessarily that way at some of the bigger companies. We have this boutique feel. We are never tied down to a single protocol. We get to look at every client as a new approach. When we sit down with a new project listing or business pitch, we like to ask a lot of questions. What are they looking for? We are not going to do the same thing for every client. We take an individualized approach with every project that we take on. And the company gives us the autonomy and trust to do that.
How important have mentors been to you as you have built your marketing career?
Kasman: I worked for the owner of a marketing agency in St. Louis, Mitch Meyers, who has probably forgotten more about brand positioning or development than I will ever know. I was lucky enough to work for her. Just to be in a room with her and see her in action was inspiring. She was tough, smart and inspiring. But she was still all the things that make being a woman really great. She was funny and feminine, too. She created her entire company. I remember watching her and saying to myself that this is the type of the person I wanted to be. She is so successful and so authentic.
I know you are working on the marketing side, but when you took your current position where you worried about working in a field, commercial real estate, that is still largely dominated by men?
Kasman: Going into this field, I didn’t think about that too much. I came from residential real estate, where there are a lot of women. In commercial real estate, it seems that many of the women are in support roles. They take care of the details and get things done, things that wouldn’t happen without them. They do a great job. They are not seen as the strategists making the big payouts, though. That isn’t the case at Sansone. Sansone Group has a high number of women. These women are seen and are taking leadership roles.
My daughter is majoring in commercial real estate at Ole Miss. I hope that her generation gets one step closer to closing the gender gap. My mom raised six kids. She always told us to be employable, to make our own money. She told us that we could do anything we wanted.
I’ve always wanted to be employable and keep up with my business relationships. I did stay home to take care of our kids and work part-time at one point because my husband traveled so much for his job. I think that during COVID, people realized that work can be done and done well even if you are jugging household duties. A lot of people during COVID were in the same boat, with their kids online doing homework while they were in a conference call.
Chris Kasman and members of her marketing team at Sansone Group’s Christmas party at Busch Stadium.
Do you think that gender gap in commercial real estate is closing, even though the industry still has work to do to boost its diversity?
Kasman: I think it is getting better. I look at my daughter. It doesn’t faze her that she is walking into a male-dominated world. She just knows that this is a career that interests her. My dad was a banker, the president of a bank. One of his vice presidents was a woman. This was in the ’70s, when that was unheard of. My dad respected her. I knew how much he depended on her. My three sisters and I grew up watching his righthand person who was not a secretary but a vice president, a leader of his bank. Luckily, we were able to grow up in that environment. There was no ceiling for us. We could do whatever we wanted.
Over the years, the gender gap continues to decrease. People are more often doing the work and getting the recognition no matter their gender.
On a personal note, when you aren’t working, what are some of the things you like to do with your free time?
Kasman: I have a husband and three teenage children. We spend a ton of time at middle school and high school sporting events. My husband and I like to create memories. We’ll jump in our Jeep and go to events. We love college football. We spend a lot of time visiting friends and family spread across the country. My husband does destinations for his work. We often visit the places he has worked on, whether it’s the Alamo or a dolphin park in Florida or Dubai. We like to take some fun trips to see his work.
My newest obsession, though, is pickleball. I love that sport. I tease the principals here, telling them that they will have to sponsor me when I go pro.