6 Empowering Tactics for Blue Monday Marketing

Tired of Winter?

We too. January it’s a pretty tough month. It’s gloomy and cold outside since Spring won’t come for a while.

There’s no near events or celebrations to look forward to. Money is tight since everyone splurges on the Christmas and New Year celebrations. And speaking of New Year, 80% of new year resolutions fail by the end of January, which makes our moods even worse.

Our mood is especially bad at Mondays – no one likes Mondays and they are especially tiring in the middle of the winter.

Blue Monday, the third Monday of January, claimed to be the most depressing day in the whole year. It’s supposedly the day when our motivation and productivity is at its lowest and the awful weather doesn’t help.

But even though it is acknowledged as real thing (especially by people who have to wake up in the cold morning to go to the work early), is the third Monday of January really the worst day of the whole year?

How it all begun?

In reality, Blue Monday as the “saddest day of the year” doesn’t exist.

But it is one of the best examples of marketing stunt going viral – 13 years after it first appeared, we are still talking about “Blue Monday” and plenty of researches every year try to find out is there a grain of truth in this seemingly nonsensical “sadness formula”.

“Blue Monday” also turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for marketers all over the world!

It all started in 2005 when a paper signed by “professor of psychology Cliff Arnall” was published as a press release. In this paper, Arnall claimed that using a “mathematic formula” he found out which day in the whole year is the saddest one (and also which is the happiest one much later too).

According to his “calculations”, the date is changing every year, depending on several factors – weather, amount of sunlight, debts, time passed since Christmas, motivation levels and time passed since breaking our New Year’s resolutions.

When Arnall put those factors together, he identified 24 January 2005 as the most depressing day of a year and that generally, the third Monday of every January is the saddest day of the year.

To make it seem more appealing and “scientific”, he even designed a whole formula describing how to identify the most miserable day of every year.

How to calculate Blue Monday formula?


How to calculate the next Blue Monday date? It’s easy 😉

The formula looked scientific enough for a regular person but scientists immediately claimed that both the formula and the whole concept of “the saddest day of the year” doesn’t make a bit of sense.

The factors used in the “formula” were too vague (because how can you even define “motivation level”?) and even if someone did attempt to put the factors together, there’s no way of combining them and getting a definite result.

No matter how you look at it, the formula is made up from the beginning to the end, and there’s no way to get any conclusive results using it – and definitely no way to get a date from it!

Several researchers were also suspicious of the author and the place where the paper was posted – which “professor of psychology” would publish his “findings” in a press release instead of a renowned academic journal?

Meet professor Cliff

So it didn’t take long then to fully expose the author and the true aim of the “findings” – Cliff Arnall was not a professor of psychology but merely a part-time tutor for evening classes students.

The real authors of the “Blue Monday” papers were marketers from a Sky Travel Channel who were looking for a creative way to promote trips abroad. It’s dark and cold outside – nothing better like booking a trip to a sunny country to brighten up your mood!

Sky Travel contacted several academicians with an offer to create a formula to pick “the best day to book a trip” and to let the company use the academician name as the author of the findings.

Arnall, who was a part-time tutor at that time, was one of the academicians contacted by the mentioned travel company and he agreed to take part in the Blue Monday marketing action.

Despite quickly being labelled as “pseudo-science” and “nonsense” by other scientists,  “Blue Monday” spread to all parts of the globe and marketers from all industries saw this as a chance to cheer up their customers and have a post-holiday sales boost.

Blue Monday marketing ideas

Looking for ideas on how you can beat the “Blue Monday” blues together with your audience too? Here are six tips!

#1 Thank your loyal customers

How many companies forget about their loyal customers in favour of generating new ones? Too many.

It’s especially strange taking into account that it’s the existing customers that are the source of the majority of the sales, are spending more money on the companies and are happy to recommend the business to their friends or family.

Blue Monday is a fantastic moment to let those customers know you appreciate them – by rewarding those customers with an exclusive offer or by sending them a  “Thank you” email.

It’s sure to put a smile on their face, even in such a gloomy day. And if your customers feel they matter to you, they are sure to stick with your business.

#2 Offer free shipping for a day

Plenty of companies offer free shipping on a Blue Monday – it’s one of the strongest customer magnets of all.

While products in online shops are usually cheaper than in retail, the added shipping costs might make the purchase more expensive than if bought in a retail shop.

Free shipping lets your customer get the product they want and without worrying about shipping costs – and that makes them far more likely to hit the “Confirm purchase” button.

You can offer free shipping on minimum order value (this is the most popular option), but plenty of companies provide unconditional free shipping on all orders, just for the Blue Monday.

#3  Host a contest

Competitions are a sure way to entertain your audience, especially on Blue Monday.

And who doesn’t like a chance to win free stuff? The options for “Blue Monday” related theme are endless – the best way to “survive” the day, a recipe for a favorite dish, best movie for a sad day or a funny photo competition to give everyone a good laugh.

The prize doesn’t have to be anything big and costly either – actually, it’s better if the rewards are smaller and related to your brand as you will only get entries from people who are interested in your brand, rather than in the prizes only.

#4 Surprise!

People love getting unexpected presents. Companies know this, so plenty of them plan to give something fun and unexpected to their customers – a free coffee, a chocolate box, an extra product added to their order, free samples or simply a discount code for a service.

What kind of a gift could you give to your customers?

#5 Support a charity

Lending a hand to others in need might be just what people need to beat the Blue Monday blues.

Not only they will help someone who needs it and makes their day better, but their mood will also get a boost too! So why not use the “Blue Monday” day to start a partnership with a charity organisation?

You can either promote a charity organisation of your pick, give a percentage of your sales for charities, give a set amount of money anytime your customers do a specific action (like sharing a post) or giving your products to charities.

#6 Inspire rather than just sell

Some of your customers might not be in the mood to purchase anything on Blue Monday. With their mood already low, pushing them to buy something anyway might only annoy them even further.

So what else can you do on “Blue Monday” to engage with your audience?

Plenty of things – share your favourite playlist, a funny picture of you and your staff or write about your latest achievement (and encourage your audience to share theirs).    

What was supposed to be a one-time marketing stunt, turned out to outlive in popularity the company that invented “Blue Monday” as Sky Travel channel was closed in 2010.

So is this “Blue Monday” really the saddest day of the year?

Definitely not.

Cliff Arnall admits that he never thought “Blue Monday” would become so popular worldwide and that “Blue Monday” myth might work as a self- fulfilling prophecy.

What he wanted to use to encourage people to take action and change things in their lives, turned out to be seen as an epitome of sadness.

“Whether embarking on a new career, meeting new friends, taking up a new hobby or booking a new adventure, January is actually a great time to make those big decisions for the year ahead.” – said Mr. Arnall who teamed up with Virgin Holidays last year, this time to debunk the “Blue Monday” myth and encourage people to take action.

So keep your chin up!

Every day we are now closer to the Spring and after we dealt with “Blue Monday”, we can start looking forward to the “Happiest day of the year” (invented also by Mr. Arnall and using the same “formula”, this time to promote an ice cream company) which falls on June 14.

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