June 25, 2019

The $150 Stapler

Sent by Jonathan Stark on June 26th, 2019

Imagine you go to the store to buy a stapler. You see taupe ones on the shelf for $8. There are also red ones that are the exact same model for $10.

You like red better so you bring that one up to the checkout line.

Behind the counter, in a glass display case there’s what looks like the exact same red stapler that you have in your hand but the price is $150.

Would you ask the clerk about the $150 stapler?

I know I would.

I’d be like, “What’s up with that stapler for $150 bucks?”

What do you think the clerk might say back to you justify the price?

Maybe something like:

“Up until 3 weeks ago, that was Warren Buffett’s personal stapler.”


“It’s the actual red stapler that Mike Judge used in the movie Office Space.”


“It’s been to space. The astronauts on the international space station used it during the first mission.”

Maybe one of these explanations would justify that price for you, maybe not.

But I can guarantee you that at least one of these explanations would justify a $150 price tag for someone.

(Heck, I would personally pay $150 bucks for a stapler that went to space.)

Here’s the thing...

None of these explanations have anything to do with the way the stapler works, the cost of the materials that it is made of, how much labor that went into manufacturing it.

So why would it be worth more to someone? What’s the difference?

The only real difference between the $10 stapler and the $150 stapler is the story.

Does that make it marketing BS?

Not if the story is true.

Is using story as a differentiator effective?

If there are people who care about it, heck yeah.

So... What’s your story?