- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reducing homicides and saving a few billion dollars in the process is not that difficult. Killing is a learned behavior, just like buying cars, using toilet paper and typing on computers.

In 2010, researchers at Iowa State concluded that the cost for a single homicide in America is $17.25 million. For less than that, there is no question that the homicide rate in Washington could be reduced from more than 90 annually to fewer than 50, and in Chicago from 500-plus per year to likely fewer than 200.

Having had the opportunity to lead the global efforts for some of the world’s most successful brands, I have gotten a rare glimpse at how powerful and effective algorithms such as Penetration Point Mastery and other tools can be in driving behavioral change. Crime in general and homicides in particular are actually easy to apply to algorithms for two reasons. First, they have a fairly defined and easy-to-influence target market — the young males who generally commit the killings and are also the usual victims. Second, they have easy-to-identify influencers, in this case the rappers they listen to.

In all applications you must find a unique penetration point, something that is a compelling insight, a game changer, a difference maker. For this application it would be the following hook: “You gotta change your hustle up because it’s too easy to get caught.” This would work because it would fully resonate with both the messengers (the rappers) and the recipients (the potential criminals).

Having identified the target, the influencers, the penetration point and the right message, next it ought to be promoted using a mix of the basic platforms with a few custom applications: targeted radio, TV, a few YouTube videos and maybe a concert or two. This way it will quickly become part of the culture.

For the cost of a single homicide, the entire crime rate in each city can drop dramatically. Billions will also be saved from all the killings that are no longer taking place. This is really what drives behavior and what can effectively and inexpensively reduce homicides and the crime rate.

ROONEY NELSON

President, the Nelson Group World Wide

New York, N.Y.