October 5, 2018

Blue Hawaiian Missionary

On Oct 3, 2018, billionaire Bill Gross auctioned off a chunk of his stamp collection. By the end of the evening, Gross had traded a bunch of little bits of colored paper for more than $10,000,000.00 USD.

One particular stamp - a blue Hawaiian Missionary with a face value of $0.02 - was purchased by Ani Pharmaceuticals CEO Arthur Przybyl for $619,500.00 USD.

Why would Przybyl pay that much money for a stamp?

I think this selling price - and perhaps all selling prices - can be roughly expressed as a function of three factors:


Przybyl had plenty of buying power, and plenty of desire. And his available options were extremely limited. Only a handful of these stamps have survived to the present day.

But wait a second...

Przybyl bought a stamp. And stamps are widely available; a commodity even. You can buy a stamp for fifty cents at any post office. So... Przybyl had plenty of available options, right?


Przybyl didn’t buy a stamp. He bought a blue Hawaiian Missionary.

And what’s the difference between a fifty cent 2018 First Class USPS stamp and a $619,500.00 blue Hawaiian Missionary?

The difference is that the blue Hawaiian Missionary has a good backstory. That’s it. That’s the difference. The story.

The takeaway:

If you want to differentiate yourself from the existing options your prospective clients have available to them - thereby increasing your prices - you need to start crafting your story.