Two things jump to mind - strong plants and stronger marketing. After an event like this, we'll need to prove somehow that the plants we provide are healthy and that gardeners themselves aren't to blame for growing sick tomatoes this year. Gardeners need to know that this isn't the norm and that they can be successful in the garden.
Even if we didn't have any kind of disease problem this year, it's important to keep up with those first-time gardeners and give them the information that will help make them second-time gardeners. I just wrapped up a story for Today's Garden Center on e-newsletters, and they're a great opportunity to get a quick exposure with your customers - and give them information they can use. And please, get a Facebook page.
Next spring, what will your marketing message be? Do we need to have a more targeted message after this year? I asked Don Eberly of Eberly and Collard PR what his thoughts were on next spring, and he said,
"History shows PR programs in down economies and other tough times resulted with companies getting and staying on top of their marketplaces, while those who hid under the table were left behind. Simply put, it is all what we make of it; I really believe these times give us all opportunities to change our stances in the market - that is, if we grab at the chance while we still have it."