Local brick and mortar businesses can find an affordable alternative to Groupon and Living Social in self-serve daily deals.

Firms providing this service include North Social, Public Deals, Pageable, and Buckaroo.

Groupon itself is offering a self-serve deal named Groupon Stores, but it’s had problems getting started. Here’s an interesting conversation about local merchant self-serve from Quora, the online Q and A site.

Given the smashing success of Groupon, we’ve seen lots of start ups in this space.

Buckaroo, which just launched a month ago and is free while in beta, gives users full control over promotional terms, transactions and list management. Buckaroo just added Facebook and Twitter features.

All of the self-serve providers listed above work within Facebook rules. Merchants that run their own promotions on Facebook without using an approved deal application are violating Facebook rules and will be shut down.

The goal of daily deal advertising is to get people in the door. It’s proven popular with retailers, restaurants and special services – from photographers to personal trainers to spas and others  mostly in the high end.

A daily deal gives a customer an incentive to come into your business at a particular time, said Jeremy Caplan, Director of Education, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Daily deals address the two major reasons why a customer might not be frequenting a business.

The first is: “I don’t have that kind of money.”

The second is: “Well, I will do that some other time.”

“The daily deal gives people a nudge to try a product or service at a specific time,” Caplan says. “It increases the likelihood that the advertising will lead to a conversion, i.e. a customer.”

This can work great for some businesses. For others, it can be a costly way of attracting a certain kind of customer — deal hunters, who aren’t necessarily going to return and build your customer base.

Another interesting option, Caplan says, is to use a WordPress template called DailyDeal.

To me, this portal looks like it would be useful embedded in sites for communities, neighborhoods and local chambers of commerce.

Although these self-service deals can be attractive   to businesses for several reasons, Caplan says, they present their challenges.

1) The business might not have the time to manage the deal.

2) They don’t have the marketing skill to do it themselves ‘

3) They might not have the capacity to follow through.

So even with  all this opportunity to self-serve deals,  a local business might decide to use a news organization’s online services like the Chicago Tribune’s daily deal service.

“Newspapers have a special relationship with their readers,” Caplan says. “Readers already spend time with their newspapers. With a daily deal, a news organization has an opportunity to provide real time ads that are more timely and relevant and to provide local deals that consumers can act on immediately.