The way to a customer's heart...

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...is probably through some combination of her stomach and her pocketbook. At least, that's what it seems Dunkin' Donuts is banking on. Just a month after its "free donut on tax day" promotion (which I almost blogged angrily about because I didn't find out about it in time), the coffee and donuts chain is holding its second national Free Iced Coffee Day on May 15.

DD expects to hand out nearly 4 million cups of iced coffee tomorrow, and I'm sure it's betting on seeing happy customers return for more. I admit to already being a won-over DD coffee fan, but even with the already-loyal, free iced coffee can help boost customer feelings about the brand (aw, they care!), cross-sell opportunities (now I have $1.50 to spend on a muffin!), and word of mouth promotions (our editorial assistant, knowing my coffee habits, sent the announcement to me this morning, and, hey, look, now I'm blogging about it!). For the non-fans, it can do everything listed above and, if it works the way it's supposed to, win over some new converts.

I think the iced coffee is a particularly clever promotion: with the summer heat (finally) cranking up, the hot coffee for which the chain is better-known may lose some of its allure. Iced coffee also carries with it the sense of being a little more special or exotic than your everyday cup o' joe, so consumers may feel like they're getting extra-good treatment -- for about the same price to the store as a cheap-o cup of the hot stuff.

If they're particularly lucky, Dunkin' may also be able to edge in on the same prospects that Starbucks is currently wooing with its free coffee promotion -- happening every Wednesday this month. I'm not entirely sure how valuable the "we'll go anywhere for free coffee" demographic is, but maybe for those undecided, it's a good chance to let the taste speak for itself.

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