When people shop in a store, they kick the tires. They feel the fabric. They turn the cabbage over in their hands. In "Life of Brian," Harry the Haggler implores Brian to "Look at it. Feel the quality." You can't do that for your customers on the Internet.

Or can you?

There are several factors that make a sale. Targeting the right people, establishing trust, creating a sense of urgency...but product quality is paramount.

On the Internet, they can't touch, feel or smell your product or service. But there are three ways you can trick people's brains to "feel the quality":

  • Show attention to detail
  • Offer "the latest"
  • Give it luxury appeal

1. Show attention to detail.

People assume that products off modern assembly lines come with an occasional defect. It's the compromise we make to afford our consumer paradise. That's why the Hanes underwear inspector commercials were such a hit. Yes, the briefs are made on an assembly line, but there's a real, live human checking for quality.

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Even if you have no images or video, you can convey this same attention to detail with the words you use.

  • handcrafted
  • craftsmanship
  • homemade
  • custom-made
  • workmanship

These words all imply a real person paying attention to detail. They appeal to our nostalgic notion that people in the "good ol' days" took more pride in the quality of the details. It's not for nothing that restaurants often refer to their "homemade" dishes .

Twice in the past week, I have come across the word "handcrafted" used to pitch the most unlikely of products.

I got an email entitled "Handcrafted Experiences" from a travel website. Can you picture an artisan in his apron, meticulously forging a travel itinerary? Nevertheless, "handcrafted" gives the message an authentic, custom air.

I saw a similar title on a WordPress themes website: "Handcrafted WordPress Themes For Professional Bloggers." Themes are hand-coded and they are hand-designed, so it makes sense. The mental image of an artisan (in his apron?), meticulously forging a virtual product, shows how any product can be handcrafted.

2. Offer "the latest"

Harking back to the good ol' days of quality craftmanship is one way to convey quality. An opposite tactic is to offer "the latest".

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People assume that state-of-the-art, leading edge products are better quality. Why? Because mankind is moving forward, so the latest is better than the previous. People don't invent inferior products, do they? Planned obsolescence aside, most of mankind's newer renditions have been toward better quality:

  • from outhouses to flush toilets
  • from car phones to smart phones
  • from horse and buggy to cars
  • from hand-held fans to air conditioning

The latest is assumed to be the best, especially with technology. Even when it comes to our health, we rely increasingly on fast-changing technology to detect and diagnose. And so, we find words like "state-of-the art" used to describe services such as those from breast cancer clinics.

Your pitch can go beyond the adjective to describe the exact benefits of being leading edge, as in this description of state-of-the-art dental care:

"We consistently invest in new and proven technologies that improve your dental experience. Modern technology, such as digital x-rays, laser technology, electronic charting, in-office milling machine (E4D CAD/CAM) and digital cameras to photograph your teeth effectively, deliver invaluable information for our team."

"The latest" implies that your product is ahead of the others, therefore it is better quality. It also implies a sense of urgency; "the latest" is not just a quality inference, but also a time-sensitivity inference.

3. Give it luxury appeal.

People assume that luxury products are quality products. If you fork out for a Mercedes, you don't expect to constantly have to return to the garage. It had better be quality.

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There are words that convey luxury and therefore, quality:

  • elite
  • leisure
  • all the bells and whistles
  • celebrity
  • deluxe
  • plush
  • premium
  • indulge
  • gourmet

Who wants to buy regular coffee, when you can buy a premium blend?

Even better if you can pitch your product as both handcrafted and premium. This is a no brainer if you sell chocolates, cosmetics or gift baskets; nobody enters such niches without trying to position their hand-crafted products as luxurious with both words and photography.

In other sectors, remember that it's all about the packaging, high quality photography, placing your product in a high-end context and using sumptuous words of luxury to make your customers covet whatever you are selling. You can't go wrong by following real estate photo tips. Real estate agents need photos to push up the sale price, so they know what works.

To demonstrate the high quality of your product, even when your customers can't "feel the quality", show attention to detail, offer the latest and give it luxury appeal.