Poor spelling, as your fourth-grade teacher may have told you, always comes back to haunt you. But Jim Kelly was shocked to discover just how serious the problem could be for his business.

The owner and founder of Rejuvenation Lamp & Fixture Co. was losing up to 25% of potential customers simply because they couldn't spell his company's name.

Customers have been addressing letters to "Rejuvination" since Kelly founded the company, in 1977. But the common mistake never got in the way of business. That is, not until 1997, when the manufacturer, based in Portland, Oreg., launched a Web site, www.rejuvenation.com.

When several customers told Kelly they couldn't find his site, he began to suspect that the problem was phonetic. So he registered a second domain name, "www.rejuvination.com," and posted a link to his real site on it. If you can't beat 'em, he reasoned, why not join 'em?

By monitoring the site's traffic, Kelly has learned that a full quarter of his visitors type in the misspelled URL and arrive at the correct destination through the link. Although the solution was effective, Kelly would have preferred to avoid the confusion. "Next time I start a company, its name will be short, sweet, and easy to spell," he says. "Brite Lites would have been good."

Copyright 1999 G&J USA Publishing